Forest of Bowland Maps

The essential landscape character of the Forest of Bowland is one of grandeur and isolation.

The AONB, geologically part of the main Pennine range, is dominated by a central upland core of deeply incised gritstone fells with summits above 450 m and vast tracks of heather-covered peat moorland.  The fells' fringe of foothills is dissected by 'cloughs', steep-sided valleys which open out into the rich green lowlands of the Ribble, Hodder, Wyre and Lune Valleys. Well-wooded and dotted with picturesque stone farms and villages, these lower slopes, criss-crossed by drystone walls, contrast with and complement the dramatic open sweep of the gritstone heights. On its southeastern edge, famous Pendle Hill forms an outlier to the AONB.
Bowland's ecological features make it a nationally important area for nature conservation and 13 per cent is designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest. The moors are a major breeding ground for upland birds and the major part of the Bowland Fells is designated as a Special Protection Area under the European Birds Directive. The lowlands contain important ancient woodland habitat.

Sheep and beef farming predominates in the uplands with dairying being the major land use in the valleys. There is some forestry, water catchment,  mineral extraction and grouse shooting. Increasingly, tourism is adding extra income to the local rural economy.
Building in Bowland uses local gritstone and has a strong vernacular style which adds to the quality of the landscape. The AONB is sparsely populated with over three-quarters living in villages, and the remainder in loosely-knit hamlets or isolated dwellings in open countryside.  Traditional villages such as Slaidburn, Downham and Newton have seen very little modern development. 
The area has considerable historical and cultural associations.  Historically, the country estate dominated resulting in country houses, attractive estate villages and well-tended parkland and estate landscapes.  Stone crosses and boundary markers, ancient pack-horse routes and Roman roads are visible reminders of early history.  Pendle Hill's association with witchcraft adds to the mystique of this part of the AONB.
The growing numbers of day visitors underline the fact that Preston, Lancaster and the towns of East Lancashire lie close to the AONB boundary.  One million people live within a 30 minute journey of the AONB.

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