Bowland & Pendle
The Forest of Bowland is a western outlier of the Pennines. Physically quite separate from the main range it comes closest to meeting other high ground in the limestone area of the southern Yorkshire Dales. While there are pockets of limestone to be found on the Bowland moors the underlying rock, as with so much of the Pennines, is millstone grit (gritstone). While lacking the exciting gritstone features of the Dark Peak area of the Peak District there are modest outcrops to be found especially on Clougha Pike, Ward's Stone and Wolfhole Crag.
Apart from the north eastern corner that lies in North Yorkshire most of Bowland lies in Lancashire. This was not always the case and prior to the 1974 boundary changes much of the area lay in the old West Riding of Yorkshire. The historical county boundary was once marked by the Grey Stone of Trough sat at the summit of the well know Trough of Bowland road, the only modern road that cross the area from east to west.
Bowland became a royal hunting ground in 1332 and it is this that gives the Forest of Bowland its name rather than any great concentration of woodland. At one time deer, boar and wolves would have been hunted here. Today much of the moorland is managed for grouse shooting and occasionally one comes across a well made shooter's track along with its attendent grouse butts.
In 1964 much of the area was designated as part of the newly formed Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. About 13% of the AONB has also been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) for its important areas of heather moorland and blanket bog. The AONB also includes the quite separate Pendle Hill and its immediate environs which are quite different in character. Pendle Hill itself is one of the most easily recognisable Pennine hills and is famous for its links with the notorious Pendle witches.
While Bowland cannot offer the limestone delights of the Dales, the gritstone edges of the Peak or the altitude of any of the higher Pennine summits it does offer some wonderfully remote, if sometimes rough, walking for the adventurous. The fact that it lacks the glamour of Peak District, Dales or Lake District is something of an advantage as it is rare to see many walkers away from some of the more accessible summits such as Parlick. Bowland is a place I feel a great deal of affection for and is somewhere that I look forward to continue exploring in the future.