One of my all time favourite childhood memories is picnicking in the Trough of Bowland with my grandparents. Every summer they packed the car up with my sisters and I, the dogs, copious amounts of delicious homemade food and wellies for paddling.
The Trough of Bowland is a valley between Marshaw (northeast of Garstang) and Dunsop Bridge (northwest of Clitheroe) in the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), Lancashire.
AONBs are areas in the countryside that have been designated for conservation due to their natural beauty, in a similar way to national parks. If you haven’t yet experienced the Forest of Bowland, you are missing out on one of the country’s most breathtaking natural environments.
While most people know of the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales, the Forest of Bowland is their lesser known but equally impressive neighbour.
The landscape is wild and untouched; a vast expanse of fells, valleys and moors that will stir and exhilarate you. At the same time, tall trees shelter and flowing water soothes. It’s the stuff of epic legends and enchanted tales.
The Trough pass is a ‘scenic route’ if ever there was one, traversing through the magnificent Bowland fells and rising almost 300m above sea level at its highest point. The Trough is only a small part of the Forest of Bowland, which is dotted with picturesque villages as it reaches just into Yorkshire to the northeast and to Pendle Hill at the southeast corner.
There are 312 square miles to explore in total and you’ll need more than a day to do that!
I’m so grateful to my grandparents for introducing me to this special place that has become a favoured destination for walking, eating out, pottering and, of course, picnicking. My family continues the tradition every summer (with my grandparents accompanying us in spirit) and it’s always a riot.
You can drive along the Trough road and pick one of umpteen perfect spots to park up and lay your picnic. Sheep roam free, dragonflies skim the water that runs downstream to the River Wyre and dappled sunlight warms through the leaves of the trees (if you’re lucky!).
All the things we did decades ago are still a source of laughter and enjoyment – lazing in the sun sandwich in one hand, sausage roll in the other, paddling, playing with a bat and ball, letting the dogs run and roam – and I have just as much fun as I did when I was 10!