Discover the beauty on your doorstep in the Forest of Bowland

Rural businesses in the Forest of Bowland will soon be ready to welcome visitors back to Bowland as demand for domestic ‘staycation’ holidays in the countryside looks set to rocket.

Tuesday, 13th April 2021, 11:42 am

As the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty launches its 2021 ‘Discover Bowland’ Guide, members of the AONB’s Sustainable Tourism Network are gearing up for a busy year.

As well as offering practical advice and information on making the most of their holidays and short breaks in Bowland, the Discover Guide also tells the stories of how a number of local businesses reinvented themselves during last year’s lockdown.

These positive ‘lockdown diaries’ include:

Bowland hay meadow. PIC: Graham Cooper

Slaidburn Central Stores, which became a community groceries hub and essential lifeline for outlying communities;

Bowland e-bikes, which accelerated its growth plans as demand for eco-friendly electric bikes rocketed as lockdown lifted;

Courtyard Dairy, which pivoted to online tastings and nationwide delivery to replace some of the business lost during the closure of the hospitality industry.

The 112-page guide also includes a series of five detailed short break itineraries and useful information on accommodation, hospitality, events and outdoor activity providers.

The Hodder near Whitewell. PIC: Chris Burscough

Publication of the Discover Bowland guide is partially funded by continuing support from the members of the Sustainable Tourism Network who advertise within it. The guide accompanies the launch of the Discover Bowland website last September – funded by the AONB and Champion Bowland, a local charity which provides small grants for environment and community projects in the AONB.

The AONB and Champion Bowland provided the seed capital to launch the site: www.discoverbowland.uk with future funding to come from rural businesses who have signed up to participate.

The website is designed to promote the opportunities of a 300 square mile rural oasis and to showcase the lesser known hidden gems of the AONB. A deep well of original content includes information on accommodation, outdoor activities, courses and experiences and the Forest of Bowland’s outstanding food and drink offer.

Both the guide and the destination website launch with a deliberate focus on bringing in bookings for the 2021 season and extending the season into the autumn and winter months.

Rural accommodation providers were hit hard by last year’s restrictions, but this year, many visitors are expected to seek fresh air and plenty of outdoor activities on UK staycations in rural settings.

Forest of Bowland AONB sustainable tourism officer Hetty Byrne said: “2020 was a very challenging year for the rural economy, but we’ve been encouraged and inspired by the resilience and innovation shown by rural businesses in the Forest of Bowland and their determination to welcome tourists back when restrictions are lifted.

“Many of these enterprising small businesses really stepped up to support their local communities and have been busy preparing to welcome back visitors with even better facilities this year.

“We hope the Discover Guide and the new website will significantly increase awareness of Bowland and inspire visitors to stay longer and – ideally – spend more money with local businesses to do their bit to help the rural economy recover.”

Visit www.discoverbowland.co.uk to plan your Bowland escape.