The Gruffalo brought to life in Gisburn Forest with new augmented reality app

2nd May 2017

In the first development of its kind, Forestry Commission England and Magic Light Pictures bring The Gruffalo characters to life in the forest through a new augmented reality app.

The Gruffalo Spotter has been designed for exclusive use at 26 forests across England where visitors can join the adventure through the deep dark wood. The trail will open at Gisburn Forest on 24 February 2017.

Families can follow clues on an interactive trail and track signs of their favourite characters based on The Gruffalo, best-selling picture book written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler.

The self-led trail is packed with fun facts about forest animals with fantastic activities along the way. Once families have spotted the characters, they can use the app to bring the 3D character animation to life and take photos with them.

Their photos are automatically added to the device’s gallery, from where it can be shared via social media with the hashtag #GruffaloSpotters.

Taking family forest walks to new heights, the app mixes technology with the real world, encouraging children to get exploring, firing their imaginations and enabling them to have an all-new forest experience.

The Gruffalo Spotter app has been developed and animated by Nexus Studios and is available for free with no in-app purchases from the App Store, Google Play and Amazon.

A Gruffalo Spotters kit will be available to buy on site and includes animal facts, tips for tracking wildlife, an evidence collection bag, a magnifying glass and a pencil to make a note of your forest finds!

Martin Colledge, Bowland Beat Manager for Forestry Commission England commented:

“This is such an exciting development and will deliver a completely different forest experience for our visitors. The Gruffalo is a world renowned story and to be able to bring the characters to life in their natural setting is fantastic. It’s great we’ve had the opportunity to join the two worlds of technology and nature together sensitively!”

Barney Goodland, Head of Digital at Magic Light Pictures said:

“Our partnership with Forestry Commission England has been an overwhelming success from the start so in this, our fourth year of activity, we wanted to do something really special. We’re always looking to further children’s enjoyment of The Gruffalo brand and this was an innovative way to incorporate new technology with a real world experience. Working with the Forestry Commission and Nexus Studios has been a real joy and it’s exciting to now be sharing The Gruffalo Spotter with families. Most importantly for us the app is completely free, which means that it’s there for everyone to enjoy.”

Claire Cook, Creative Producer at Nexus said

“The team at Nexus are massive fans of The Gruffalo and were really excited to be able to bring the iconic characters to life in the forest through the magic of Augmented Reality. Working with Magic Light and the Forestry Commission has been a fantastic collaboration on many levels, from new technical innovation in AR and real time 3d characters, to creating an experience that works outside in all weathers and for all ages. The creative challenges have always been enjoyable and we can’t wait to see children (and their grown-ups!) playing it.”

The Gruffalo Spotter app will launch from 20 February and the trail at Gisburn Forest will run until December 2017.

The Gruffalo Spotter app is free from the App Store, Google Play and Amazon and requires downloading before your visit. A preview of the app is available here

For a full list of participating sites across England and for further details please visit

Bowland Set for Musical World Premiere

2nd May 2017

Image by Mark SutcliffeMusic of the Forest has been specially commissioned by William, 16th Lord of Bowland, and set to music by Lakeland composer, Christopher Gibbs.

The four-part song cycle evokes the landscape and history of this beautiful area and will be performed by the Renaissance Singers of Blackburn Cathedral under the baton of Samuel Hudson.

Providing a dramatic climax to the cycle will be internationally acclaimed musician, John Kenny, who will play the carnyx, an ancient Celtic war horn.

The performance takes place in Slaidburn Village Hall on the evening of Thursday 15th June.  Tickets cost £7.50 each and need to be booked in advance by calling the AONB office on 01200 448000 or by emailing

To find out about the inspiration behind this exciting new work read Mark Sutcliffe's Discover Bowland interview with William Bowland and Christopher Gibbs here.

A Feast of Festival Bowland Events

25th April 2017

Golden Plover by Chris GomersallMay is packed with Festival Bowland events! Wander through a bluebell wood and take tea in the village hall; head up to Tatham for the Maiden Bridge summer art exhibition plus Clearbeck's open garden; try your hand at fused glass in Hornby or family crafts at Beacon Fell; join the RSPB on the lookout for moorland birds and enjoy a guided ramble followed by food in Sawley.  And of course, as it's May, it's Garstang Walking Festival: nine days of fresh air and exercise in and around Bowland's western gateway. Details at

Click here to view a full list of Festival Bowland events.

Cloudspotting Music & Arts Festival 2017

4th April 2017

BIRDS. Bikes. CCloudspotting logohoirs. Carnivals. Drumming. Dancing workshops.  And that’s just for starters.

The full arts and music programme for the blooming Cloudspotting Music and Arts Festival has been confirmed, apart from a few late surprises, and a rich programme of magical activities and adventures lies in wait for North West families.

Taking place between July 28th and 30th, Cloudspotting celebrates its 5th year at the fabulous location of the Gisburn Forest hub, situated deep in the Forest of Bowland AONB, 40 miles north of Manchester.

The festival was conceived in a Ribble Valley pub beer garden in 2011.  Since then, the reputation of the festival has blossomed for its adventurous music programme, family friendliness and magical intimate atmosphere.  Its location in the remote clearing of Lancashire’s largest forest is the most unspoiled natural habitat a festival audience could wish for. 

The live music programme looks strong, eclectic and on point, with a line-up brimming with artists who will be gracing much larger festival stages than Cloudspotting this year.

Cloudspotting FestivalThe Friday night features the spectacularly talented Moulettes and will be headlined by the cosmic grooves of Manchester’s cult outfit Henge, whose performance at last year’s festival so entranced its virgin audience that a repeat booking was demanded by attendees.

DJ Woody, a world DMC turntablist champion, headlines the Lawn Stage with an alternative live set before playing an AV ‘history of hip-hop’ set later in the night at the Cabin in the Woods.

And there lies a beauty of Cloudspotting.  The festival offers first consideration to its growing family audience camping in the main field but for the night owls, alternative late-night haunts can be sought out in the forest.

The midnight curfew on the main stage means that Cloudspotting has that rare quality of being able to hear the headliners while you curl up in your tent (or drink red wine outside it while minding the kids!).

Headlining Saturday night is Congolese poet, composer-lyricist, scriptwriter and performer Baloji for his only northern UK festival performance of the summer.  Baloji is an incredible live performer. His music stands at the crossroads of African music, incorporating traditional with soul, jazz and funk influences, discovered through sampling and electronic music which has its roots in the region of Belgium where he has spent much of his upbringing.   Other Saturday acts include Gulp, the side project of Guto Pryce of the Super Furry Animals, The Wave Pictures, Jeramiah Ferrari and the dub reggae vibes of Operation Sound System.

Cloudspotting Sundays are gloriously chilled days reflected by a more acoustic edge to the music programme. With that in mind, a gaggle of leading female artists on top of their game have been confirmed to star on Sunday – This is The Kit, Jesca Hoop, Holly Macve and Hannah Peel, will all be touring new material this summer. 

Sharing in the sets of some inspirational musicians is certainly par for the course at Cloudspotting.  But the strength of the festival is how the wider programme engages with the family, from early years, to teenagers, to adults.

The natural habitat of the Forest of Bowland is a source of great inspiration for the festival’s artistic themes.  This year, protection of the native birds of the forest will be celebrated, the endangered Hen Harrier has already had a strong presence in the festival’s promotional artwork, and a series of linked interactive activities produced in association with the RSPB will take place over the weekend.

FCloudspotting Festivalor festival goers who like to get stuck in, there is a raft of interactive arts on offer.  Performing arts workshops include the 6-hour ‘Play-in-a-day’ session, where participants will write, act and present a stage play on the Sunday; dance workshops, from clogging to Can Can; song-writing and drumming.  Creative Arts are also in abundance with long-time partners The Bureau, Blackburn leading a programme including forest arts, photography and science-based activities.

More passive attendees – especially those with young families – will be entertained by some award-winning outdoor theatre, courtesy of Fine Chisel, who will be performing ‘Flit, Flap and Fly’, and Madam Bridget’s Caravan of Curiosity  (world famous fortune teller and tea leaf reader!), which will be presented by association with the Northern Festivals Network.  Story-telling sessions, interactive music sessions, art installations, and walking trails (including ‘The Gruffalo’ trail) and circus school are just a portion of the programme that can be researched on the festival’s website (

In addition to all the arts and cultural activity, Gisburn Forest is also a UK hotspot for mountain biking.   Bike hire is available and other organised leisure pursuits include orienteering, a family sports day (Saturday), with the Lancashire Sports Partnership, and yoga.

Teenagers are well catered for too with a secret youth zone in the forest with activities such as DJ workshops, beat-boxing and graffiti arts.

Production Director Helen Ficorilli added: “As ever the Festival will be promoting quality across all artistic platforms with families particularly well catered for.  We are excited about a really wide ranging family arts and activity programmes connecting our audience with our beautiful forest location.” 


Cloudspotting camp opens from 12 noon on Friday, July 28th – 12 noon on Monday, July 31st.

For ticket information visit


The Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership will soon be sending out its first newsletter!

21st March 2017

The new Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership newsletters will be sent out on a quarterly basis and will aim to inform and keep you up to date on all the things that are going on in the programme. The first few newsletters, whilst we are still in the development stage, will provide more background information to the Landscape Partnership and inform of any events/activities in the near future.

If you would like to receive these newsletters please follow the link below and register your email address. The first newsletter will be sent out from 25th March. Please note that unless you confirm your subscription via the email you will receive after signing up you will not be added to the mailing list - so please remember to confirm via this email!

Any problems please let us know!

Festival Bowland 2017 is Just around the Corner

10th January 2017

This year's Festival Bowland programme is packed with everything from star gazing to bird watching and from guided walks to green woodworking.  You'll be able to find details of all the events via our online calendar or by downloading our latest Discover Bowland guide but to give you a head start, here are a few of the events coming soon….

Willow Bird Feeders

Saturday 18th February, 10.30am - 12noon or 1.00pm – 2.30pm


Bring out your creative side – and keep our feathered friends happy! – by making a decorative willow bird feeder with local craftswoman, SallyAnne Middleton. Instruction and materials provided. Suitable for adults and accompanied children 6 years and over.

£5 per feeder. Booking essential. For more information contact the AONB office on 01200 448000 or email

Fell Walking

Sunday 19th February, 10.00am – 2.30pm

Dunsop Bridge

A pleasant valley walk following the River Dunsop then rising over the fells before returning. Bring a packed lunch.

£4.50/£3.50, 4 ½ hours, terrain guide 5, 8 miles Booking essential. For more information contact the Visit Garstang Centre on 01995 602125 or email

Forest of Bowland Hedge Laying Competition

Saturday 4th March, 9.00am – 3.30pm

Laneside Farm, West Bradford

Chat to the experts taking part in the latest Bowland Hedge Laying Competition – part of the Lancashire and Westmorland Hedge Laying Association Grand Prix – and find out all you need to know about this traditional rural craft. Or why not book onto the free training available on the day and have a go yourself?

For more information contact the AONB office on 01200 448000 or to book a place on the training session email

Free, 6 ½ hours

Winter Hedge Laying Workshops

29th November 2016

Hedges are a key feature in the Forest of Bowland landscape. As well as acting as stock boundaries and providing shelter they also make great habitats – and larders - for wildlife.  Laying hedges to keep them healthy and stock-proof is a real skill so, if you'd like to have a go yourself, don't miss our latest training opportunities:

Thurs 2nd and Fri 3rd March           West Bradford

Saturday 4th March                        West Bradford (Bowland Hedge Laying Competition) with training session running alongside

Wed 8th and Thurs 9th March        Rimington

Each day will run from 9.30am until approximately 4pm and all tools and instruction will be provided.  You will need to wear old, outdoor clothes, strong footwear and tough gloves and bring a hot drink and packed lunch.

Places need to be booked in advance by contacting the AONB office on 01200 448000 or by emailing

Development and Funding Recruitment Opportunity

23rd November 2016

The Forest of Bowland AONB Partnership wishes to contract a consultant to provide temporary support services to backfill a 'Development and Funding' role within the AONB Unit, which is currently vacant due to a temporary secondment to the Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership.

The AONB Unit is currently working on a number of key projects and activities requiring developmental support, including funding bids for priority habitat conservation and restoration project work, sustainable tourism projects and assisting Champion Bowland (a charitable company) with its grant-giving activities and to help it develop and grow.

If you have any queries regarding this work, please contact Elliott Lorimer at the AONB office on 01200 448000, mobile 07775 221208 or email

The deadline for the submission of the quote is 5pm on Friday 9th December 2017 to

Peat Restoration Contract Opportunity

23rd November 2016

Peat Restoration Opportunity

The Forest of Bowland AONB on behalf of the Lancashire Peat Partnership wishes to appoint a suitably experienced and qualified contractor to carry out the following peatland restoration works within a 77 ha project site on Brown Syke, Mallowdale: re-profiling peat hags and areas of eroding bare peat; timber dam construction; bare peat revegetation. Further information can be found here.

For further details please email or telephone the office on 01200 448000.

Closing date Thursday 1st December 5pm.