Forest of Bowland

The Forest of Bowland, also known as the Bowland Fells, is an area of barren gritstone fells, peat moorland, blanket bog, and deep valleys located in north-eastern Lancashire and, to a much lower degree, in North Yorkshire.

The word “forest” in the name Forest of Bowland is used in the traditional sense of “royal hunting ground” as this is not an area covered in trees. In the past, animals such as deer, wild boar, wolves, and wild cats were hunted here. Today, the Forest of Bowland is a popular area for grouse shooting.

The Bowland Fells is a remnant of the much larger wilderness that once encompassed a major part of England, connecting it to places such as the Sherwood Forest and the Savernake Forest.

The Forest of Bowland is a great place for walking and hiking, but there are still unexploded WWII era bombs resting in some areas since the forest was used for military training during the war.


Nearly 39,000 acres of the Bowland Fells have been named a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

The Forest of Bowland has been a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) since 1964.

Under the Habitats Directive, the Bowland Fells has been designated a Special Protection Area, designated especially for breeding hen harrier and merlin. Merlin (Falco columbarius) is a species of small falcon. The hen harrier (Circus cyaneus) is a medium-sized bird of prey. In 2015, a single hen harrier chick fledged in the forest. In 2018, two nests were found on lands belonging to United Utilities, and both were quickly put under surveillance by volunteers.

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Geology and nature types

Forest of BowlandThe Bowland Fells are dominated by deeply incised gritstone fells covered in tracts of peat moorland and blanket bog. The moorlands are largely covered in heather.

The upland landscapes are linked to the lower-laying areas via steep-sided wooded valleys.

In the north-eastern part of the Bowland Fells, coniferous trees have been planted.

To the east, you can find limestone areas covered in flowery and highly bio-diverse meadows.

There are several notable caves in the Bowland Fells, such as Whitewell Cave, Whitewell Pot and Hell Hole.

Hills & Fells

Examples of hills and fells in the Forest of Bowland:

  • Ward’s Stone (561 m or 1,841 ft)
  • White Hill (544 m or 1,785 ft)
  • Wolfhole Crag (527 m or 1,729 ft)
  • Fair Snape Fell (510 m or 1,670 ft)
  • Totridge (496 m or 1,627 ft)
  • Hawthornthwaite Fell (478 m or 1,568 ft)
  • Whins Brow (476 m or 1,562 ft)
  • Grit Fell (468 m or 1,535 ft)
  • Parlick (432 m or 1,417 ft)
  • Bleasdale Moor (429 m or 1,407 ft)
  • Clougha Pike (413 m or 1,355 ft)

Human habitation

Along the lower slopes of the fells, you will find small villages and isolated farms. Traditionally, houses here are built using locally available stone, since timber is fairly scarce here outside the valleys. The traditional way of enclosing pasture here, especially reclaimed moorland pasture, is with drystone walls.

Great Britain’s geographical centre

The geographical centre of Great Britain is located within the Bowland Fells, near the Whitendale Hanging Stones, approximately 4 miles (6 km) north of Dunsop Bridge.

Visitor centre

There is a visitor centre in Beacon Fell Country Park, in the civil parish of Goosnargh in Lancashire.

The visitor centre is managed by the Lancashire County Council Countryside Service.

Coordinates for the Beacon Fell: 53°52′47″N 2°39′36″W

Short facts about the Forest of Bowland / Bowland Fells

Location Northern England
Counties Lancashire

North Yorkshire

Rivers Hodder


Highest point Ward’s Stone at 561 meters (1,841 ft) above sea level