In 1964 the Forest of Bowland became a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). 10th February 1964 the Minister of Housing and Local Government Sir Keith Joseph, signed the order to create the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It was England’s 16th AONB at the time. It read:
“In pursuance of Section 87 of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act, 1949, and all other powers enabling them in that behalf, the National Parks Commission hereby designate as areas of outstanding natural beauty for the purposes of the said Act, all those areas of land, compromising approximately 310 square miles situated in the county of Lancashire and in the West Riding of the County of York and shown bounded by a dark green line edged internally by a broad light green band on the map annexed hereto.
This Order may be cited as the Forest of Bowland Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (Designation) Order, 1963.”
It still took around 15 years of campaigning to open up Bowland to people who wanted to explore the fells and in 1972 four Access Areas were opened Clougha, Baines Crag, Fairsnape and Parlick. Nowadays much of the Forest of Bowland is open to the public, although many of the fells are missing a good path. This is partly down to the infamous bog of Bowland, and maybe down to funding. I personally am not complaining though because it helps to keep the Forest of Bowland a hidden gem.
The designation speaks for for itself -the area is stunning and mostly unspoiled. There are currently 33 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty in wholly in England, with two in Lancashire (the other is Arnside & Silverdale AONB).
To mark the anniversary Festival Bowland is celebrating throughout the year and the brochure can be downloaded here.