Bowland Dark Skies Festival

6th January 2020

Night sky image by Robert InceThis February half-term we have a selection of exciting events to help you celebrate some of the darkest skies in England – right here in the Forest of Bowland.

Last year's events were extremely popular so we'd recommend early booking!

17th February

Pop-up Planetarium – Knowle Green
1pm, 2pm or 3pm

Step inside the pop-up planetarium for a journey through space – without leaving the ground! Discover the wonders of the planets and stars with amateur astronomer, and professional scientist, Robert Ince. Great for families with children eight years and over.

Booking essential. 

Tel: 01200 448000 or email
£2.50 per person

18th February

Tales from a Dark Forest Night – Gisburn Forest

7pm to 8.30pm

Join us in the forest where we'll be keeping cosy in the yurt as we listen to night-time tales with local storyteller, Sue Allonby. Great for families with children eight years and over.

Booking essential. 

Tel: 01200 448000 or email

£3 per child (adults come free)

20th February

Free Family Nature Event: Creatures of the Night - Barley

4pm to 6.30pm

Have a go at owl pellet dissection then come on a nature walk to discover what night-time creatures we can hear – or see!  Aimed at families with children four to 12 years old.

Booking essential.



21st February

Film Screening: A Grand Day Out – Downham

1.30pm to 2.30pm or 3pm to 4pm

Come along and enjoy night-sky crafts then join Pendle Social Cinema for this family-friendly animation of Wallace and Gromit's adventure to find cheese on the moon!

Booking essential.

Tel: 01200 448000 or email
£2.50 per person

23rd February

Dark Skies Stargazing – Bleasdale

7.30pm to 9.30pm

Join Robert Ince for an evening of stargazing. Robert will be your guide on an incredible journey through the constellations and along the Milky Way. Weather permitting there will be powerful telescopes to gaze through, when Robert will show you how to find the night sky's wonders for yourself. The evening includes colourful talks and videos, plus friendly advice on how to get started in this wonderful hobby.

Booking essential.



Beacon Fell South night sky by Robert InceWhy not combine your dark sky adventures by staying for a few days in one the AONB's Dark Sky Friendly Businesses? We have thirteen in Bowland – all quality accommodation providers – geared up for your star gazing visit.
Further Information:

Images by Robert Ince

Banner image by Steven Kidd

Could your Bowland Photo Feature in 2020?

23rd October 2019

Autumn's colours are well and truly here and making the landscape light up! It's a fantastic time ofBrennand Valley (J Hickling) year for getting out with your camera and capturing some of that beauty so, next time you're out and about in Bowland, why not take a pic or two and share them on our visitor photo gallery?

But don't just think autumn – think all year!  The Forest of Bowland AONB is lovely throughout the seasons, whether it's a wintry frost-covered valley, a bird on a branch full of the joys of spring or a swathe of flowers in a summer hay meadow.

If you submit your images to our photo gallery there's the chance they could pop up as Photo of the Week on our website home page, or appear in one of our publications.

Dinner Tme (R Bayley)And our 2020 Discover Bowland guide will include a special Bowland through a lens feature, highlighting some of the inspiring images from our visitor gallery.

So, whether you head out with your camera this weekend, or search out one of your earlier masterpieces, why not share it with us?

Go to and click on the Upload your Bowland photos link where you'll find the Terms & Conditions.

What is Bowland Without its Trees?

3rd September 2019

Coat of Arms of William, Lord of BowlandIn this year’s ninth Lord of Bowland Annual Lecture, Dr Bill Shannon will explain how hunting rather than trees traditionally define a Royal Forest like Bowland.

Medieval kings and nobles established forests and chases for pleasure and prestige, for the preservation of the deer and to provide gifts of venison for their followers. 

The Forest of Bowland under the Tudors and Stuarts will chart the gradual decline of Bowland as a Forest; beginning with Henry VII's desire to put Crown lands on a sound business footing in order to maximise his revenues and ending when James I completed the process a hundred years later.

Taking place on the evening of Tuesday 1 October in the wonderful surroundings of Browsholme Hall's Tithe Barn, attendance is free but places need to be booked in advance by contacting the Forest of Bowland AONB on 01200 448000, or by emailing or 

The lecture starts at 7.30pm with a pay bar available from 7.00pm. 

Donations are invited on the evening and will go to Slaidburn Archive to support its important work in recording the history of the Forest and to Champion Bowland, which supports projects benefiting the environment, local communities and visitors. 

The Forest of Bowland AONB is grateful to the Parker family for kindly hosting this lecture at Browsholme Hall and to William, Lord of Bowland for his continued support. 

(Deer leap cover illustration by Jennie Anderson)

Ancient Tree Forum - Our Landmark Trees

30th August 2019

What makes a tree ancient and veteran?Morning mist Whitewell autumn (T Wilson)

Why does our country have more veteran and ancient trees than any other country in Europe and why are they under threat?

Will there be the next generation of landmark trees here in the Forest of Bowland for future generations? What can we do about it ?

Our Landmark Trees, Monday 7th October 2019, 7.00 - 8:30pm, Downham

Ted Green MBE and Jill Butler of the Ancient Tree Forum are two of our leading specialists. Ted founded the Ancient Tree Forum and was awarded the Royal Forestry Society's Gold Medal in 2017. Ted will introduce the concept of working trees in the Bowland landscape.

The event is free but voluntary donations to Champion Bowland CIO ( the charity that supports environmental projects in the AONB ) will go towards our Landmark trees campaign.

To book a place go to

Postcards for Kindness

4th July 2019

Postcards for Kindness

Postcards for Kindness (Healthier Lancashire and South Cumbria)Whether you're enjoying a day trip to Bowland, or planning a longer summer break in this fantastic part of the country, you could help brighten the day of a local care home resident simply by sending them a postcard from your travels.

Lancashire County Council's Postcards for Kindness campaign is back for a second year and is a really easy way to help tackle loneliness amongst older people.

According to Age UK figures, many residents living in care homes receive no visits, so getting an unexpected postcard from a lovely spot – a place many may have visited themselves in the past – could be a wonderful boost.

A postcard can help to re-kindle happy memories and spark conversations, especially for people living with dementia – and with over 100 care homes taking part, this year's campaign could bring smiles to many faces.

To find out more – and to see which local care homes are taking part – see the Healthier Lancashire and South Cumbria website at

Happy holidays!

Meadows to Morris Dancing

10th June 2019

Tramper Taster Day - May 2019 (Forest of Bowland AONB)Festival Bowland is packed with events to help you explore and enjoy the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Wyre rangers and the River Wyre Partnership team will be out and about clearing Himalayan balsam on the 18th and 19th June. Why not join them in the upper reaches of the catchment to give them a hand and enjoy a brew and a biscuit afterwards?

Bowland Active Naturalists and the Friends of Bowland have two Wildlife Wanders to choose from – the first in Gisburn Forest on Saturday 22nd June and the second around the Cross of Greet Bridge on the 20th July. A chance to learn a little from those who know a little at an easy pace.

Explore Churn Clough reservoir and the farmland around Sabden on a guided walk with the Ribble Rivers Trust on Saturday 22nd June then head across the AONB to Tatham on Sunday 30th for Clearbeck open garden – "A surprise round every corner" according to visitors. The garden has its last opening for 2019 on Sunday 7th July.

Bell Sykes Farm in Slaidburn - Lancashire's Coronation Meadow – will be welcoming visitors for this year's National Meadows Day celebrations on Saturday 6th July.  See traditional hay making techniques, watch woodcraft and spinning demonstrations, learn about the traditional uses of meadow plants and take a guided walk amongst the species-rich meadows on the farm.

Malkin Morris (2018)The following weekend - Saturday 13th - sees Morris teams, including locally based Malkin Morris, dance in Barley and Roughlee. There may even be a chance to try out some steps yourself!

And those who love the outdoors, but can't walk as far as they used to, can take a guided trek on a four-wheel drive Tramper mobility scooter in the picturesque parish of Nether Wyresdale on July 18th when the Wyre rangers have special permission to explore the tracks around Foxhouses lakes near Scorton.

Full information and booking details for all these events and more are available on the Forest of Bowland AONB website at

Tramper Taster Day

15th May 2019

Gisburn Forest

Tramper at Gisburn Forest Hub CafeSpring is a fantastic time of year in the Forest of Bowland and this month's Festival Bowland events programme has a great opportunity for countryside lovers who relish getting outside but who might not be as mobile as they once were.

On Tuesday 28th May the Forest of Bowland AONB will be running a series of Tramper taster sessions along the Birch Hills Trail at Gisburn Forest & Stocks near Slaidburn.

Trampers are specially designed, all-terrain, four-wheel drive electric buggies, which can be used on country tracks, mud and grass. Trampers can help people who have difficulty walking, or who may be disabled, to experience the countryside and to accompany friends and family on suitable routes. 

The Birch Hills Trail is a stile-free, mile and a half woodland route which has several benches and picnic tables along the way, allowing plenty of opportunity to stop and take in the sights and sounds of the forest.   In addition, the trail has been designed to be of special assistance to people living with dementia and is well waymarked with a "forget-me-not" symbol.  A booklet highlighting wildlife and heritage interest along the walk is also available.

Early booking for the taster day on the 28th May is recommended as Tramper numbers are limited. The event is free but donations towards the upkeep of the Trampers are welcome on the day.

For more information, and to book a place, contact Sandra Silk at the Forest of Bowland AONB office on 01200 448000 or email

For those who enjoy the experience and would like to re-visit the forest, a Tramper is available to book from Gisburn Forest Hub Café and can be used on the specially waymarked route between the Hub and the Birch Hills Trail. Festival Bowland also has a number of other guided Tramper treks available during the year and details are available at

From Whimbrel Watch to Bluebell Wood

2nd April 2019

Green Hairstreak Butterfly by Jeff GorseIf the scent of a bluebell wood or the musical call of a lapwing make your thoughts turn to spring, then get ready to discover some of Bowland's natural heritage with Festival Bowland's springtime events programme.

Wyre Coast and Countryside Service will be out spotting curlews and hares in the Bleasdale area on Sunday 14th April, whilst the RSPB will be exploring a beautiful valley above Slaidburn with their first moorland walk of the season on Saturday 20th. If you can't make that date there will be another chance to join the RSPB on the 28th.

Wrap up warm and settle down to watch whimbrel as they fly in to their evening roost around Barnacre on April 25th, then keep your hat and gloves on as the Ribble Rivers Trust venture out on a bat walk in Slaidburn the following night.

Head west again on Saturday 27th for a Tramper trek near Garstang as the Wyre rangers head out to search for lapwings and hares. A great event for people who love wildlife but can't walk as far as they used to.

Lapwing Chick by Gavin ThomasMay starts with Wyre's evening walk in the lovely Brock valley on Wednesday 1st, followed by a bumper day on Saturday 4th when there are three events to choose from: a wildlife walk around Garstang; the East Lancs Ornithologist's Spring Bird Watch at Stocks Reservoir and a search for Green Hairstreak butterflies and Emperor moths with a Butterfly Conservation guide in the Trough of Bowland.

The Bank Holiday weekend events finish with a springtime walk around Nicky Nook and the first of this year's Sunday bluebell tea walks in Calder Vale, both organised by the Wyre rangers on Sunday 5th May.

Full event information and booking details are available in the Festival Bowland calendar at

Half a Kilometre of Hedge

24th January 2019

Hedge laying volunteersKeen hedge layers from far and near headed to the four corners (almost!) of the AONB; picked up bill hook, axe and pruning saw and got to work this winter.  Both regular volunteers and new faces joined us to learn from experienced hedge layers Joe Craig, Geoff Whitley, Andrew Kirkwood and Phil King.

Hedge laying volunteersWe were treated very kindly by the weather this season, with only a few hours lost over the 10 sessions - quite a contrast to last year!

It's been great to work both at familiar sites and to discover some new corners of Bowland and we extend our thanks to this year's hosts:

Higher Gills Farm, Rimington

New Laund Farm, Whitewell

Fell View Park, Scorton

Laneside Farm, Grindleton and

Lower Gills Cottages, Tosside

Take a look at our picture gallery of the 2018/19 season here.

If you'd like to join our traditional boundaries mailing list and come along to a session – or more - next season, contact Sandra Silk at the AONB office on 01200 448000 or email

If you'd like to see hedge layers of all levels – from novice to championship – in action then pop over to the annual Bowland Hedge Laying Competition at Cockshotts Farm in Sabden on Saturday 2nd March.  This year's competition is being organised by the Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership project and details will be available at once finalised.  The PHLP are also holding two hedge laying training days for beginners during February (3rd & 20th): a great way to add to the 516m! Phone 01200 420420.

As part of our Traditional Boundaries programme we'll be holding a two-day dry stone wall training course with Master Craftsman, Alan Rhodes, near Slaidburn in June.  Further details to follow but to register interest contact Sandra on

Dry stone walling

Bowland Dark Skies Festival

8th January 2019

Update 28.01.29:
Most events are now booked up so we've added some new partner events here.

The Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) has been officially recognised as having some of the darkest skies in England - a fact being celebrated next month with a week of special events during half-term.

Image by Matthew SavageHetty Byrne, Sustainable Tourism Officer for the AONB said, "Light pollution means that truly dark skies are becoming increasingly rare.  With our Dark Skies Festival we want people to discover the magical sight of the planets and constellations visible above Bowland. The longer nights of winter are good for star gazing and, given the right conditions, you can feast your eyes on everything from the Plough to the Milky Way!

Running from Saturday 16th until Sunday 24th February the themed week includes guided star gazing and astrophotography with local amateur astronomer, Robert Ince; the chance to book into one of Bentham Golf Club's glamping pods or lodges and search the dark skies until the wee hours; wrap up warm and listen to nocturnal tales with storyteller, Sue Allonby and an invitation to step inside Yorkshire Planetarium's mobile dome for night-sky films with the wow factor.

"Bowland is beautiful during the day", said Hetty, "but seeing its star-filled skies at night is a fantastic experience. We advise early booking as the events are likely to be popular."

Visitors wanting to stay and explore the area for a little longer can choose from a number of Dark Sky Friendly businesses - many of them accommodation providers offering information about star gazing in Bowland.  Details available at

Details and booking information for the Dark Skies Festival events can be found below:

Saturday 16th February – Dark Skies Glamp - SOLD OUT!

7.30pm till late, Bentham Golf Club

Image by Robert Ince

Be guided on an incredible journey through the constellations and along the Milky Way. Explore the night skies using powerful telescopes, all provided and operated by a local astronomer, who will take you on an astronomical tour. Finish the evening in style by staying in one of Bentham Golf Club’s new, stylish glamping pods or lodges. Price includes stargazing and accommodation. A stargazing-only option is available at £15 per adult and £7.50 per accompanied child.

Booking essential. Contact Wenningdale Escapes to book on: Phone 015242 62455 or email

£99 (per pod for 2)/£348 (per lodge for 4 people for 2 nights)

Sunday 17th February – Astrophotography Workshop - SOLD OUT!

7pm – 10pm, Gisburn Forest

Image by Robert Ince

Come to our Forest of Bowland Dark Sky Discovery site and learn how to photograph the contrast of our dark skies and the beautiful stars above. Learn how to create star trails and other compositions that will leave you and your friends breathless, all with just a DSLR camera, lens and tripod. After time spent in the workshop there will be opportunities (weather permitting) to try the techniques out under Bowland’s dark skies. Suitable for adults and accompanied children 16 years and over.

Booking essential. For more information contact Robert Ince on 07511 403702 or email To book go to:

£27.24 per person

Tuesday 19th February – Planetarium Adventure - SOLD OUT!

1pm, 2pm or 3pm, West Bradford

Step inside the Yorkshire Planetarium’s mobile dome for HD films with the wow factor! Journey through deep space, discover the constellations, learn about black holes and the life and death of stars and find out how humans went to the moon. A great half-term activity for families with children 8 years and over. (Younger children are welcome on the understanding that each session will last around an hour.)

Booking essential. Please contact the Forest of Bowland AONB office on 01200 448000 or email

£5 per family (2 adults and up to 2 children)

Wednesday 20th February – Stories of the Stars - SOLD OUT!

Image by Matthew Savage

7pm – 8.30pm, Gisburn Forest

Bring along the family for an enchanting evening in Gisburn Forest! Cosy up around the fire for an evening of dark sky stories with storyteller, Sue Allonby and listen to our expert guide, Robert Ince, who will share stories of his own dark sky adventures. Weather permitting we’ll embark on our own journey to explore the night sky! A great half-term activity for families with children 8 years and over.

Booking essential. Please contact the Forest of Bowland AONB office on 01200 448000 or email


Sunday 24th February – Stargazing: SOLD OUT!

7.30pm – 9:30pm, Claughton-on-Brock

Enjoy the stars in the dark skies of the Wyre! We will be your guides along an incredible journey through the constellations and along the Milky Way, showing you how to find all sorts of objects for yourself. There will be powerful telescopes for you to gaze through but (weather permitting) we will also help you see the spectacle of skies with just your own eyes. Suitable for adults and children 10 years and over. (Under 18s must be accompanied by an adult.) Please book early - places are limited.

Booking essential. For more information contact Robert Ince on 07511 403702 or email To book go to:

£15/£7.50 (£40 per family ticket – and up to 3 children)

Partner Events

Saturday 16th Feb - Dark Skies Evening 

The Dalesbridge, Dalesbridge, Austwick, LA2 8AZ

An evening of star gazing and talk from esteemed astronomy speaker Colin Stuart.

Ingleton stargazers will be on hand for guided star gazing and expert astronomy photographer Pete Collins throughout the evening of our beautiful dark Yorkshire Dales Skies.

Wood fired pizza oven along with the bar being open for drinks all evening.

Tickets are £6 each including one drink from the bar (draft beer, house wine, soft drinks, tea or coffee)

Click to book online

Saturaday February 23rd, 6.30 to10pm - Dark Skies Family Fun Night 

Be a Garden Maker, Coars Farm, Wigglesworth, BD23 4SN

Come and spend the evening learning about the night sky - some fun facts about astronomy, how to find your way around the stars and what there is to see up there.

You'll get a drink and snack half way through the night. Bring along your telescope (or have a look through ours!), binoculars or anything you might want to use and we hope we'll get a clear night.
Adults £5/Kids £3

Booking information:

Older news