New book highlights Birdwatching Walks in Bowland
PUBLISHED: 00:00 21 December 2016
Two birdwatchers with a shared passion for Lancashire’s wild landscape have produced a guide to help walkers enjoy its natural charms.
Bowland is one of the great jewels of the north of England and still something of a secret. Within its ancient confines is a myriad different landscapes - huge, undiscovered wild moorland, illustrating the horizons with purple, green, rock-grey and rust; dapple-lit rivers and streams that meander through lowland areas; picturesque settlements where those in the know begin or end their forays into the beauty of the countryside.
And what better way is there to explore such a glorious arena than a gentle walk, focusing on the wildlife and history highlights along the way? We can’t think of any, so it is fortunate that walkers of all ages, abilities and intentions can find in the pages of one book all the information they need to explore, wonder and appreciate.
Birdwatching Walks in Bowland, created by David Hindle and John Wilson, embraces the land from Crook o’Lune to Pendle, Abbeystead to Slaidburn, Beacon Fell to Wray. There are 36 short walks to choose from, each one providing straightforward route details (complete with map), interesting wildlife and historical information, and selected photos and drawings.
Take Walk 10, for example. It starts at Dunsop Bridge, reputed to be the village nearest to the exact centre of the British Isles, where you can park and enjoy refreshments. The books tells us: ‘On this walk you can wander along over isolated moorland and the valley of the Hodder without seeing a soul. This is perhaps one of the joys of Bowland, even at the height of the season, for few places have that distinction nowadays.
‘We pass close to Burholme, the site of a hamlet of medieval origin. A feature of the walk is the gothic Knowlmere Manor, built in the late Victorian era and once the home of the Peel family, descendants of Sir Robert Peel, the founder of the police force . In the vicinity of Knowlmere Manor the woods hold redstart, jay, great spotted woodpecker, mistle thrush and nuthatch.’
Or Walk 16 described as ‘a lovely walk beginning at Chipping and embracing woodlands, open fields, wet grasslands, rough pasture and long-lost deer parks at Leagram and Whitewell. And Dinkling Green deserves a short break to check the date stones and architectural features on the buildings of this delightful 18th century hamlet which occupies the site of a late medieval settlement.
‘At Park Gate, survey the woodlands and waterfall from the bridge in what is a delightful setting for observing grey wagtail on the stream. The pasture and rough grazing land on the first part of the walk supports brown hare, kestrel, stock dove, meadow pipit, wagtail and important breeding populations of lapwing and curlew.’
Walk 22 is a short amble beginning in the charming village of Abbeystead and circumnavigating the nearby reservoir. ‘The path passes through mature, mainly oak, woodland with alder along the river. In spring the woods are a riot of colour with bluebells and ransoms under the trees and marsh marigolds along the wet margins. The effect of sheep grazing is obvious, with not a bluebell on the sheep’s side of the fence!
‘With expanses of both deep and shallow water, the lake attracts an attractive variety of birds, the most obvious being mute swan, grey lag and Canada geese, all of which breed around the lake. One or two pairs of great crested grebe are also regular breeders. Always a joy to watch, this attractive species is easy to identify, with their ear tufts and frill of summer plumage making them so distinctive. In spring they have elaborate courtship rituals, including much bill fencing and mutual head shaking, often accompanied by raucous calling.’
As these small extracts show, Birdwatching Walks in Bowland encourages the walker to immerse themselves in their environment, to pause, to listen and observe. You don’t have to be a keen ornithologist or have any expert knowledge; all you have to do is use the book to enrich a lovely walk. And if you want to know more about some of the species you might spot en route, there is a large colour section of top quality bird photographs, complete with a brief description and tips for identifying them.
The last word can be left to John Weld-Blundell, Lord of the Manor of Chipping, whose passion for the Forest of Bowland is matched only by his determination to help preserve it.
‘This book is the culmination of years of research and hard work on a subject about which the co-authors, David Hindle and John Wilson, are clearly so knowledgeable and completely passionate. David is the author of twelve books on local history, while John, was the first warden of the famous RSPB Leighton Moss Nature Reserve at Silverdale. Their book is a reflection of their deep affection for nature. Perhaps more importantly, it offers the opportunity for any of us to link a wonderful walk with the nature that lives there.’
Birdwatching Walks in Bowland is available from booksellers price £9.99. But Lancashire Life readers can obtain their copies at the special reduced price of £8, POST FREE (UK mainland addresses). Visit the publisher’s website at www.carnegiepublishing.com and use the code LL8 at checkout.