Large-scale sweeping landform incised by narrow
wooded valleys and intimate cloughs which drain
the moorland heights creating an attractive mosaic
of woodland, unimproved meadows, pasture, marshes
Expanses of open rolling heather moorland
and blanket bog with areas of reclaimed moorland
pasture at the periphery defined by dry stone walling.
Steeply sloping sculptural escarpments link
the exposed moorland tops with the surrounding lush
green valleys of the Lune, Ribble, Hodder and Wyre.
Scattered settlement pattern of picturesque
stone villages and isolated stone built farmhouses,
commonly backed by a small copse, typically with
a barn under the same roof line.
Extensive coniferous plantations to the south-east
of the area.
High quality species-rich meadows in limestone
areas to the east.
area is bounded by the transitional landscape of
the Bowland Fringe and Pendle Hill, which extends
from the Lune Valley around the slopes of the Bowland
Fells before merging imperceptibly into the Ribble
The grandeur and isolation of the wild and windswept
Bowland Fells are complemented by steep escarpments
and upland pasture, deeply dissected by steep-sided
intimate wooded valleys that open out into the broad,
lush rural valleys of the Lune, Ribble, Hodder and
Wyre. The upland pasture is criss-crossed by dry
stone walls dotted with picturesque stone farms
and villages whose cultivated character contrasts
with and complements the dramatic open sweeping
The dominant feature of this area is the central
upland core of deeply incised 'gritstone' fells
and extensive tracts of heather moorland and blanket
bog. The Trough of Bowland, a natural pass connecting
the valleys of Marshaw Wyre and the Langden Brook,
divides the upland core into distinct blocks and
forms a picturesque routeway.
A characteristic feature is the incised cloughs
and wooded valleys which provide strong visual and
physical links between the exposed mosaic of upland
moorland and the lush intimate lowlands of the rural
The Bowland Fells share many characteristics with
areas of the Yorkshire Dales and North Pennines,
particularly the 'gritstone' geology and open expanses
of moorland and blanket bog. However, this area
is more hospitable than the bleaker moorlands of
the Pennine chain. The compactness of the topographical
unit and its proximity to civilisation provides
reassurance and tempers the physical harshness of
the exposed upland moorland.
character of Bowland is dominated by the Millstone
Grit, laid down by rivers and delters in the Carboniferous
Period as alternating thick beds of coarse-grained
sandstone ('gritstone') separated by layers of more
easily eroded mudstones shales. The core of Bowland
is formed by hard sandstone which forms the fell
tops, while the softer beds of shale have eroded
to form lower undulating areas broken by low scarps
and valleys. The smooth broad fell tops are interrupted
only by sporadic outcrops of sandstone as at Ward's
Stone and Clougha Pike.
Glacial action has smoothed the outline of the fells
and has formed the distinctive scenery of small
hills and drumlins of the river valleys to the north-east
of Bowland. Meltwater from retreating glaciers has
cut outwash channels, which create conspicuous notches
in the skyline of the fells to the north of Clougha
Pike. The drainage pattern of this area has cut
deep cloughs through the harder sandstone in a radial
pattern emanating from the upland moorland plateau.
The moorland summit is predominantly raw peat soils
(blanket bog), infilling hollows and producing a
smooth undulating land surface. The remaining uplands
are soil from the Belmont series and are typically
acid, coarse and loamy. This land has traditionally
been converted by drainage and fertiliser/lime application
to improved grazing, but the process is subject
to reversion as economic prosperity fluctuates.
The lower slopes of the Bowland Fells are covered
in slightly calcareous glacial till derived from
Carboniferous parent materials. These areas are
generally under permanent grassland with some more
fertile areas suitable for limited cultivation.
and Cultural Influences
components of the Bowland Fells landscape have been
undergoing a process of alteration since it was
first colonised by nomadic hunters in approximately
10,000 BC when the area would have been substantially
covered by broadleaved woodland on all but the highest
land. It has undergone significant changes since
Neolithic times, from about 3,000 BC when forests
were cleared. This process was accelerated by climatic
changes during the Bronze Age. Over this period
the heathland and blanket bog expanded to the cleared
land below to produce the fells we know today. This
open country has since been maintained by fire.
Further depletion of woodland cover occurred during
the Anglo Saxon period and this was perpetuated
by the Norse invasion of the north west after 900
AD. Many place names in Bowland date back to this
period. The word gill is derived from the Norse
for narrow valley and is common for streams and
settlements across this region, for example Oxengill,
Hasgill and Brungillmoor. Other Norse terminology
used to describe the landscape features of Bowland
are fell, moss, thwaite or beck. It has also been
suggested that the name 'Bowland' derives from the
Norse Bu meaning cattle or English Bull Land.
The Bowland Fells have been used as a hunting area
and constituted part of the Royal Forest of Lancaster
in medieval times. Today the area has been designated
as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)
with vast areas of upland moorland having SSSI status.
The fell top would have been the favoured ground
for wolves, with deer and other game on the lower
slopes. The remaining areas of forest would have
been divided into cattle farms for the production
of oxen as draught animals. Since early times, economic
development through farming has been a major consideration
in the forest. Consequently wild game diminished
as a result of increased enclosure and grazing competition.
The extinction of wolves by the end of the 14th
century further perpetuated the farming culture
and enabled sheep grazing to extend onto the fells.
Large scale enclosure occurred from the 1550s to
1630 and had a profound effect on the Bowland landscape,
the main change being the conversion of moorland
and woodland waste to meadow and permanent pasture.
The form of enclosure varies from piecemeal irregular
shaped fields around individual farms to systematic
divisions of commons resulting in regular enclosure.
Field boundaries at this time were predominantly
earthen banks with hedges or dry stone walling in
areas where the bedrock is close to the surface.
within the Bowland Fells are restricted to villages,
hamlets and isolated farmhouses. Constructed predominantly
out of local 'gritstone' they complement the natural
features in the landscape and contribute to the
aesthetic quality. The unity afforded by building
materials, building style and village form provide
a common identity throughout Bowland. Narrow streets,
duckstone pavements, village greens, cottage gardens
and stone boundary walls are characteristic features
of the many picturesque villages.
The variety of architectural detail using consistent
'gritstone' and the combination of large houses
and modest cottages gives each village its particular
identity and unique charm.
The isolated stone built farmhouses are often backed
by a small copse and set within stone walls. The
typical style is a two storey structure with thick
'gritstone' walls, commonly with a barn or byre
under the same roof line.
is mainly an area of exposed upland moorland and
blanket bogs with a substantial coverage of heather
which is managed for grouse shooting. In some areas
the vegetation is dominated by rushes, grasses and
cotton grass. Peat hags have developed in several
eroded areas within the central plateau. Rock outcrops
and sandstone boulders occur sporadically on some
of the moorland summits. Trees are generally absent
from the central core. The escarpments support a
mixture of semi-natural moorland species on the
upper slopes with unimproved or semi-improved grassland
on the lower slopes, within large enclosures of
dry stone walls.
Extensive areas of bracken have established on the
deeper, richer soils of the lower slopes. The escarpment
slopes are generally unwooded, although coniferous
and broadleaved woodland blocks occur in places.
The largest of the coniferous plantations is Gisburn
Forest which is associated with the large water
body at Stocks Reservoir. The upland fringe farmland
is predominantly species-poor grassland used for
silage production on the lower slopes to rough pasture
at the moorland escarpment transition. The field
boundaries in this area are a combination of hedgerows,
dry stone walls and post and wire fencing.
Sale and management of land held by water authorities
and large estates which form an integral part of
the Bowland Fell landscape.
Loss of species-rich grassland through changing
farming practice and loss of traditional landscape
features such as stone walling.
Conflict between visitors and ramblers in
areas traditionally managed as grouse moors due
to lack of suitable access.
Lack of woodland management and introduction
of coniferous plantations.
Possible increased pressure of mineral extraction
limited at present by accessibility.
Proposed wind turbines and other renewable
energy resources, eg Caton Moor.
Suburbanisation of rural villages and farmsteads
with spiralling house prices and a changing community
Honey pot pressure caused by excessive traffic
in key tourist areas such as the Trough of Bowland.
Overgrazing of moorland pasture resulting in loss
of moorland vegetation.
Fly tipping in steep sided gills/cloughs
with unsightly large scale rubbish, eg cars, fridges,
washing machines, etc.
Decline in hill farming generally leading
to a run-down appearance to farm buildings and boundaries.
The management of open moorlands for grouse shooting
continues to form a key characteristic of the area.
Appropriate forestry management would prevent
unsympathetic incursion into open moorland.
There is scope to direct recreational opportunities
towards those areas capable of receiving them.
The retention of character within existing
settlements is important.
There are opportunities to retain and manage
B (1991), The Origin of Lancashire, Manchester University
Press, Manchester and New York.
Lancashire County Council (1993), Landscape Structure
Plan 1991-2006, Report 17 Landscape Evaluation.
Lancashire County Council, Lancashire A Green Audit.
Woolerton Truscot (1992), The Forest of Bowland
Landscape CCP 399, Countryside Commission, Northampton.