Lapwing © David Patrick

Ginkgo Prize for Ecopoety

26th August 2020

Ginkgo Prize posterThe Ginkgo Prize for Ecopoetry, the biggest international prize for ecological, environmental and climate-concerned poetry, opens Friday 31st July 2020. Calling from poets around the world competing to win £5,000 (first prize)£2,000 (2nd prize) or £1,000 (3rd prize). 

Organised by the Poetry School, and judged by novelist, activist and UK Poet Laureate Simon Armitage and poet, critic and commissioning editor Jade Cuttle. The Ginkgo Prize aims to illuminate the climate crisis and the role that poetry can play in provoking consciousness and change. 

The competition encourages poets from all backgrounds and abilities to interrogate and explore our built and natural environments, to challenge the global climate crisis and celebrate ecological beauty by lending creative space to the writing of poetry.

To help applicants enter, Ginkgo has set up virtual workshops throughout the submissions period (31st July – 31st October 2020). These workshops aim to encourage the writing and understanding of ecopoetry. There will be essays from leading environmental writers and more workshops announced soon.

This year, they are launching a separate prize with the UK’s Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty – the theme will be Landscape, and the £500 prize will be awarded to The Best Poem of Landscape. This prize will be free to enter if a poem already submitted to the Gingko Prize qualifies as a landscape poem.

The winner of the Ginkgo Prize will be awarded a week-long glamping residency and bespoke rewilding workshop at Knepp Rewilding Safaris.

Festival Events Go Virtual

10th August 2020

Festival Bowland OnlineFor over 10 years, Festival Bowland has been offering residents and visitors the opportunity to explore the beautiful Forest of Bowland AONB through a range of guided walks, talks and hands on workshops.

Coronavirus restrictions have meant that many of this year's face to face events have had to be cancelled so, instead, event organisers have gone digital and moved online.

Sandra Silk, Project Officer with the Forest of Bowland AONB said, "Each year we look forward to meeting new people and old friends through the Festival programme. Sadly, we haven't been able to do that this year but, rather than miss out, we've worked with colleagues at the Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership to put events online. We're really excited by how many people have joined us "virtually" to find out about everything from archaeology to bats and wading birds. We even managed to move our national Meadows Day celebrations online."

Events are free to attend and you don't need a camera on your device to be able to join in.

Events planned for August include family-friendly bird ID, peat restoration and a look at Pendle Hill's "radical" heritage.  Black grouse, Roman roads and an introduction to rewilding will feature in September, along with online Bowland Foodie Foray sessions.

"Holding our events digitally means that people can join us no matter where they live", said Sandra, "so we're really grateful to all the presenters who have made these virtual events possible. It's also great to welcome people who may not normally be able to take part in face to face events, whether that's for health, transport or other reasons.  We certainly hope to include online events alongside our more traditional format in future Festival programmes."

Details and booking information for all Festival Bowland online events can be found on the Forest of Bowland AONB website at Anyone wanting to know more about how the online events work can email Sandra on

Days to Remember

31st July 2020

Memory Box PhotoA trip to the countryside can provide endless opportunities for making – and re-living – happy memories, as well as being great for our physical and mental wellbeing.

There are times though, when a visit to the great outdoors isn't possible and at those times, the Forest of Bowland AONB team hopes their new online resources will come in handy.

The Days to Remember project aims to encourage older people and those living with dementia, alongside family members and carers, to enjoy a "virtual" exploration of this beautiful area.

The newly launched web page has everything from tips and resources for making your own Great Outdoors memory box; to links to puzzles, quizzes and colouring sheets and a relaxing guided meditation.

Sandra Silk, Forest of Bowland Project Officer said, "Last year we worked with Lancashire County Council's Heritage Learning Team to produce a Great Outdoors memory box full of activities designed to trigger positive recollections and encourage conversations about past countryside visits and adventures. Unfortunately, this part of LCC's loans service is temporarily on hold so the new web page is our way of sharing some of those ideas online."

Activities include Bowland wildflower "playing cards" which can be downloaded and printed; a series of images from around the AONB, which can be used to make up a photograph album; recordings of the calls of Bowland birds, including the iconic curlew and lapwing, plus ideas for other resources to spark happy memories.

The web page also includes a guided meditation written and narrated by Helen Leece of the Gathering Fields Retreat near Abbeystead. Based on the sights and sounds of a Bowland meadow in summer, the twenty minute audio, which includes natural sounds and simple music, is designed to offer some gentle relaxation.

"Ultimately, we would like to help people experience Bowland in a variety of ways", said Sandra, "whether that be through improving signposting and access so that people have the confidence to explore for themselves, or through offering guided sessions and activities. In the meantime, we hope our online suggestions will help people stay connected to nature."

The Days to Remember web page can be found at and more information about the project is available by emailing Sandra at or by calling 07973 923142.

Coronavirus Update: 28th July 2020

28th July 2020

Visiting the Forest of Bowland AONB

With the recent easing of restrictions many facilities and local hospitality businesses have reopened in the AONB.  Whilst enjoying more time in the Forest of Bowland please continue to stay safe and consider the following:

  • Forest of Bowland Countryside Code MessagesKnow the Countryside Code - Plan ahead, take a map and exercise within your limitations to keep pressure off local resources.
  • Avoid hotspots and busy spots – we know everyone has their favourite place in Bowland, but if large numbers of people all head to the same place, it becomes impossible to safely socially distance. If you arrive at a site that is already busy, please find an alternative. 
  • Our farmers have been working hard to maintain food supplies during the pandemic. Support them and our communities by leaving gates as you find them, sticking to the path and keeping dogs on the lead (Note: If you are with a dog and cattle chase you, it is safer to let go of your dog's lead).
  • Strictly no BBQs or open fires, due to the danger of wildfire.
  • Leave no trace. Take all your litter home.
  • Respect the plant and wildlife which has thrived during lockdown.
  • Travel sustainably: If you can, journey on foot or bike. This means you experience the wonderful scenery of the AONB en-route and you don’t have to worry about finding a car parking space.
  • Keep to current social distancing guidance.
  • Be sure that you check ahead to make sure that places are open and what they are offering following the recent lockdown. Remember that is mandatory to wear face masks in shops and takeaways.
  • Stay at home if you, or anyone in your household or support bubble, have symptoms of COVID-19 and keep to the isolation guidance issued by government.  Take hygiene precautions when you are outside and wash your hands as soon as you are back indoors
  • Be kind and respect one another.

For those wanting to stay indoors or who are shielding at home, take a look at our 'At Home in Bowland' resources and Online Events Programme for ideas and inspiration, or to get in touch please email  

Further Information

The Essence of Bowland Bottled

7th July 2020

Richard and Rachel’s vapour infused tipple using wildflowers is helping re-GIN-erate traditional meadows across Bowland.

Goosnargh Gin at Bell Sykes Hay Meadows

A second serving of a seasonal gin distilled with wild herbs, grasses and blooms from some of the richest wildflower meadows in England has just been released at a virtual celebration of traditional hay meadows.

And last year’s Hay Time gin was a huge success, selling out within just six weeks of its release.

Goosnargh Gin distillers Richard and Rachel Trenchard have been working with farmer Peter Blackwell and Forest of Bowland AONB Farming and wildlife officer Sarah Robinson to source and harvest a blend of wild herbs, grasses and flowers to impart distinct verdant tones to the finished gin. Hay Time is just one of Goosnargh Gin’s creations which are distilled in small batches, using traditional methods in copper alembic stills near Bleasdale, in the shadow of Beacon Fell.

The company uses local, organic and sustainably grown botanicals. “We’re keeping the exact blend of Hay Time a secret, but we have used flowers, grasses and leaves from species like meadow vetchling, sweet vernal grass, red clover and yellow rattle to distil the gin, giving it the unique essence of Bowland,” explained Rachel. “A sip of this carefully distilled gin – served with tonic and a garnish of fresh green apple – will transport you straight to these exceptionally special and ecologically significant Bowland meadows on a sunny summer’s day – alive with birdsong and the gentle background hum of bees.”

The enterprising couple has already achieved significant success since launching in October 2018, with international and local awards for their gins, which are inspired by the stunning landscapes of Bowland.Goosnargh Gin at Bell Sykes Hay Meadows

For every bottle of Hay Time gin sold, Richard and Rachel will donate £5 to projects in the Forest of Bowland, to encourage the education of young children about the importance of protecting these areas.

The wildflower-rich Coronation Meadows at Bell Sykes Farm act as a living seedbank – one of the last unimproved flower-rich grasslands in this part of Lancashire. Established by HRH Prince Charles in 2013 to mark the 60th anniversary of the Coronation of Her Majesty the Queen, Coronation Meadows are a network of some 90 protected wildflower meadows which maintain a living seedbank to provide a springboard for the restoration and creation of new sites across the country.

These very special meadows encourage the growth of native species and are home to iconic northern upland species including meadow crane’s-bill and melancholy thistle along with a colourful mix of yellow rattle, eyebrights, pignut, buttercups and lady’s mantle. Peter lets the grasses grow much longer before cutting and bailing, so that the seeds can develop and then be used to regenerate wildflower meadows elsewhere. “Peter’s meadows really are some of the finest examples of upland unimproved grassland anywhere in England,” said Sarah. “They typically produce around 10 times the variety of species you’d find in more intensively cropped 
meadows and attract a whole host of insects and pollinators to create a Goosnargh Gin at Bell Sykes Hay Meadows
really rich base to the food chain. 

Until now, Peter’s sheep and cattle have been the primary beneficiaries of this rich oasis of biodiversity, but with the first bottling of this very special gin, we humans can discover what we’ve been missing... and help safeguard the future of this vitally important habitat.”

For further information visit

National Meadow Day celebrations took place on 4th July.  Normally they take place at Bell Sykes Farm, Slaidburn.  This year, as we weren't able to meet face to face our celebrations took place virtually, joined by Goosnargh Gin telling us about their new season Hay Time release.   Take a look at some short film clips we took showing the species-rich meadows at Bell Sykes in June.

Coronavirus Update

6th June 2020

From Wednesday 13 May the Government is allowing people to “exercise outside as many times each day as they wish” and stating that “people may drive to outdoor open spaces irrespective of distance, so long as they respect social distancing guidance while they are there”.

Whilst many of us will want to return to our AONBs for the health and well-being benefits they provide; safety remains our priority.

The landscape will still be here for everyone to enjoy when it is safer to do so and more facilities are available, but our over-riding priority is to ensure that both visitors and the residents of the Forest of Bowland remain safe; and to ensure we don’t place undue pressure on public highways, emergency services or key workers.

If you are making a special journey into the Forest of Bowland, please carefully consider your own wellbeing and that of the AONB's many small communities: home to many vulnerable people and a working environment for farmers and land managers.

Please bear in mind that the vast majority of facilities – including cafés, hospitality businesses and potentially many public toilets are not currently open.

If you've enjoyed exploring your local patch of Bowland from home, please continue to do so, while respecting the social distancing rules.

If you plan to visit the AONB in the coming weeks, we ask you to please act responsibly by sticking to these rules:

  • Know the Countryside Code Plan ahead, take a map and exercise within your limitations to keep pressure off local resources.
  • Avoid hotspots and busy spots – we know everyone has their favourite place in Bowland, but if large numbers of people all head to the same place, it becomes impossible to safely socially distance, putting you, your family and others at risk. If you arrive at a site that is already busy, please find an alternative. 
  • Many people in the local community are among the most vulnerable groups and still need to self-isolate. While walking, please keep a safe distance from homes, schools, and farms.
  • Our farmers have been working hard to maintain food supplies during the pandemic. Support them and our communities by leaving gates as you find them, sticking to the path and keeping dogs on the lead (Note: If you are with a dog and cattle chase you, it is safer to let go of your dog's lead).
  • Respect the plant and wildlife which has thrived during lockdown. This is a critical time for ground-nesting birds and other wildlife, so again please keep your dog on the lead and stick to the path.
  • Strictly no BBQs or open fires, due to the danger of wildfire.
  • Leave no trace. Take all your litter home.
  • Travel sustainably: If you can, journey on foot or bike. This means you experience the wonderful scenery of the AONB en route and you don’t have to worry about finding a car parking space.
  • Stay two metres apart and avoid gathering in villages where many of the shops and services remain closed.
  • Be kind and respect one another.

Helping us with this huge collective effort to nurture our outstanding landscapes right now, means they will still be there for us all to enjoy when the current coronavirus restrictions are fully lifted and will ensure our vital rural economy bounces back even stronger.

For those wanting to stay indoors or who are self isolating at home, take a look at our 'At Home in Bowland' page for ideas and inspiration, or to get in touch please email 

Further Information

Press Release from Natural England: New Guidance on Spending Time Outdoors

Government Guidance on Access to Green Spaces

Government Guidance on Social Distancing

Bluebells in Littledale image by Steven Kidd

COVID-19 Update

20th March 2020

In keeping with the latest Government guidance, the Forest of Bowland AONB team has taken the decision to work from home for the foreseeable future. We have postponed or cancelled all planned face-to-face events, volunteering activities, and nature and wellbeing group activities.  We will be following the latest advice on the situation from Public Health England.
This means we won’t be reachable on our main office phone number – however, we are carrying on with business as usual as far as possible and we are all still working remotely. If you have a query, please email or ring individual mobile numbers, and they’ll reply or give you a call as soon as they are able.   Or use the general Bowland email and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

"Stay home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives"

The latest Government guidance means that everyone is required to stay at home. Although we can go out for exercise, that means close to your own home. People must not travel from other areas into the Forest of Bowland AONB, and you should not travel distances within the AONB for walks or other exercise.

This helps to reduce the spread of the virus. It will also help to minimise the risk of accidents on our roads, reducing unnecessary pressure on the NHS and emergency services at this extremely difficult time. It will also support our local communities who need to access their local shops and services while maintaining the required distances from others to keep everyone safe.

In these unprecedented times, please ensure you stay up to date with the latest guidance from the Government

The outdoors will be there for us after this is all over.  

Please follow us on twitter @forestofbowland and Facebook @bowlandaonb for the latest updates from the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.   Or for inspiration of what you can do from home, especially with youngsters, visit our 'At Home in Bowland' page.

Follow the links below for further support from Lancashire and Yorkshire County Councils:

Lancashire County Council

Twitter                 @LancashireCC

Facebook            @LancashireCC

Lancashire Resilience Forum


North Yorkshire

North Yorkshire County Council

Twitter                 @northyorkscc

Facebook            @northyorkscc

North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum


With thanks and best wishes,
Forest of Bowland AONB Team

Hay Time Rescue - Project Summary

11th February 2020

Melancholy thistle at Bell Sykes Farm (Forest of Bowland AONB)Delivered by Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust in partnership with Forest of Bowland AONB, this 14-month project engaged local volunteers and Kew Millennium Seed Bank to propagate and "foster" sustainably collected seed into plug plants.

The four key species were bird's-eye primrose Primula farinosa, globe flower Trolllius europaeus, melancholy thistle Cirsium heterophyllum and saw-wort Serratula tinctoria.

These species were once widespread in our meadows, road verges or stream and river banks, but have now declined into scattered, isolated populations around the area. In particular bird's eye primrose is listed as a nationally scarce species, is a Lancashire BAP target species and in 2012 cited as decreasing globally on the IUCN Red List.

Using data provided by the Lancashire Environmental Records Network (LERN) team, surveying and soil testing potential sites, suitable locations for seed collection and re-establishing populations were found.

Kew Millennium Seed Bank at Wakehurst Place in Sussex was commissioned to produce approximately 1000 plug plants from locally sourced seed of the four key species for the project.

The work focused mainly in the species rich hay meadows and pastures in the area, but also included some special verges. Engaging volunteers, landowners, community groups and Kew Millennium Seed Bank to grow local, sustainably sourced seed into plug plants, the project has successfully re-introduced 1100 plug plants of three scarce plant species at eight different sites across the AONB.

Bird's-eye primrose (J Hickling)The field scale hay meadow restoration work carried out through the Hay Time project continued, with 13 ha of meadows having restoration or enhancement work over the summer and autumn of 2019.

The project has worked successfully with land owners, community groups and with schools. Over the course of the project our public events attracted over 80 people, sharing seed collection and propagation knowledge with landowners, both within and outside Forest of Bowland AONB, and educating local school children on the importance of wild flowers.

We visited the fascinating seed bank at Kew MSB and discovered the journey our seed took through the various drying, testing and propagating processes.

We also worked with an entomologist to find a rare fly species Chiastocheta, which rely on globe flower for the adult portion of their life cycle.

Saw-wort (YDMT)Hay Time Rescue was a project funded jointly by Lancashire Environmental Fund, Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust and Forest of Bowland AONB. The full report is available here.

Hay Time will be continuing in 2020 with further field scale restoration, and more rare plug plants to place this spring.

For further information contact Carol Edmondson 01200 448000, or email

Bowland Dark Skies Festival

6th January 2020

Night sky image by Robert InceNEW EVENT ADDED! 

Tuesday 18th Feb - After Dark Family Event

This 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

After Dark Family Event - Gisburn Forest

5pm to 6.30pm

Come and explore the forest at night. During the session you can make your own space themed Pizzas to cook over the campfire, make a woodland star and discover a whole new world after dark.

Booking essential For further information phone 07814 464872/07801 794514 or email

Children £9. Adults £4. Under 3 free

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

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