Safety in the Bowland Fells
Always think safety in the Bowland Fells. The Forest of Bowland is much like any other fell or mountain area so the same precautions should be taken, however, much of the area is very boggy, so extra care should be taken and there is some more information on how to escape a peat bog later.
When I first started venturing out into the Forest of Bowland I was often unprepared. But over the years I have become more safety minded and I believe I am now just about equipped correctly. The only thing I sometimes still do is wear jeans, which is stupid because they soak water and could lead to hypothermia if you get stuck.
Before you set off
- Plan your route and make sure someone close to you is aware of it. Try your best to stick to the route, unless it is impossible to do so. I use Ordnance Survey’s free Getamap. You can plan a route and email it someone.
If you do change your route and you are able to let someone know, do it!
- Check the weather forecast and plan accordingly. For example, it is sunny in summer, take a hat and plenty of water.
What to wear
I tend to to go for light, waterproof and breathable clothes in both summer and winter.
- Upper body is important, over my Karrimor runner’s style t-shirt I usually wear a shoftshell coat and over it I wear another coat which is light, water and wind proof and hooded. This way there’s a sort of double protection which is both light in weight and comfortable. And if it gets warm I can easily take them off and put them in my rucksack.
- Down below is also very important. Sometimes I wear waterproof runner’s tights, with shorts over. Other times I will wear softshell trousers. Also have some waterproof over trousers with you, they can easily be packed away.
- Softshell Gloves (winter).
- A good hat (perhaps have a summer and winter hat).
- Good quality hiking boots and socks (waterproof).
- I also take a balaclava in winter.
- Gaiters are often in my bag. Available here.
Stuff to take with you
These are things that I usually take with me.
- GPS system. These are great, but they can go wrong. I have a backup GPS system (phone) and most importantly a map and compass. A good Bowland map available here.
- A mobile phone. But be mindful that you can’t always get a signal in the Forest of Bowland. If you have a spare old mobile it is a good idea to buy a spare sim on a different network. This way you can double your chances of getting a signal if you find yourself in bother.
- Spare battery for your phone/s. A good USB charger pack is here.
- Wind up torch. Good example here.
- Whistle. Available here.
- Survival foil blanket. Available here.
- High energy food.
- A hot drink and plenty of water.
Other hints about the Forest of Bowland
As I mentioned earlier, Bowland is notorabely boggy, especially around the Saddle Fell area. Indeed a well known fell runner died after getting stuck in a bog on Saddle Fell (BBC News article). I have been ankle deep on many occasions and sometimes up to my knees, especially around Saddle Fell.
Here is Bear Grylls using a dead sheep in Ireland. Swap the sheep for your rucksack.
Click here for some useful info from the Ordnance Survey website on how to free yourself from bogs and quicksand.
Remember to check Bowland Pennine Mountain Rescue Trust’s safety page here.
If you chose to try one of the walks on Bowland Walks, please read the disclaimer first.