The Great Outdoors at Bowland Fell
Bowland Fell is the perfect base for exploring the Yorkshire Dales. Here’s our guide to the best local walks and outdoor pursuits!
Local outdoor activities
Step into the fairy tale woods of Gisburn Forest and Stocks. Explore the trails and experience a sense of space and freedom as you breathe in the fresh air and hear the peaceful bird song. Gisburn’s dramatic scenery, with deep forest and challenging hills, provides the perfect backdrop for the award-winning mountain bike trails. Demanding climbs and exhilarating downhills make it the ultimate off-road mecca!
For those seeking a unique outdoor adventure, visit after dusk to soak in the wonder of the stars at this accredited Dark Sky Discovery Site.
Cycling and mountain biking trails
Whether you’ve just bought your first bike or you’re happy shredding through rock gardens, Gisburn Forest offers a fantastic opportunity for natural cycling. There are 4 different cycling trails to choose from.
Why not try your hand at orienteering, a map reading challenge for all levels. The aim for everyone is to navigate between control points marked on an orienteering map. If you are a little more competitive the challenge is to complete the course in the quickest time!
The 6 walking trails will take you into the heart of the forest, along historic trackways and former railway lines. You might even see some of the forest’s extensive wildlife from the wildlife hides on the Birch Hills walk.
Dark skies at Gisburn
Be in awe as the cosmos magically reveals itself in the skies over Bowland. Gisburn Forest Hub is one of five sites within the Forest of Bowland AONB to be granted the Discovery Site status. Look out for the Night Sky Safari events led by local astronomers to guide you through the night sky.
Gisburn Forest Cafe
The ideal place to visit during your adventures to Gisburn Forest. Freshly made coffees, hot and cold drinks, snacks and treats available.
The forest is open from dawn until dusk, 7 days a week.
2. Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge
Pen-y-ghent, Settle (15 miles away)
The Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge takes on the peaks of Pen-y-ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough, usually in this order, and in under 12 hours. These peaks form part of the Pennine range, and encircle the head of the valley of the River Ribble, in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
Pen-y-Ghent (694 metres)
Starting the Yorkshire Three Peaks from Horton-in-Ribblesdale, and walking in the traditional counterclockwise direction, Pen-y-Ghent is the first peak to be ascended. From the car park in Horton, the path to Pen-y-Ghent can be found along the road to Brackenbottom Farm, turning off to the left just before the farm itself, by the church.
Whernside (736 metres)
From Ribblehead, head left on to the B6255, and follow the path to the side of the viaduct, but not crossing underneath it. Continue North, crossing the railway, heading towards the peak of Whernside. To head towards Ingleborough, continue along the ridge, heading towards the B6255, and the Hill Inn.
Ingleborough (723 metres)
From Whernside and The Old Hill Inn, briefly follow the road to Ribblehead before crossing the stile to the right, and following the marked path. The peak of Ingleborough is marked by a cairn.
To head back to Horton-in-Ribblesdale, retrace your steps for 200 metres or so before heading off the ridge to your right, over several stiles and on to a lane, where your path heads to the left, and over several more stiles before ending back in Horton-in-Ribblesdale.
3. Pendle Hill
Pendle Hill, Nelson BB9 6LG (15 miles away)
Most famous for its links to the now notorious witch trials of 1612, Pendle Hill and its surrounding towns and villages are a truly bewitching area of Lancashire.
Long distance walks, such as the 43-mile Pendle Way and parts of the Bronte Way, combine history with stunning scenery, with plenty of country inns and farmhouses to provide most congenial rest and refreshment along the way.
4. Harlow Carr (RHS Garden)
Crag Lane, Beckwithshaw, Harrogate, North Yorkshire HG3 1QB (37 miles away)
01423 565 418
You’ll be treated to a wide range of different gardens including:
- Main Borders
- Winter Walk
- Kitchen Garden
- Alpine House
- Lakeside Gardens
- Sub-Tropicana Garden
- Scented Garden
- Queen Mother’s Lake
- Teaching Garden
Find top-quality plants, gifts and homeware, plus great ideas for the home and garden.
Sitting in the beautiful Yorkshire countryside, Harlow Carr offers a variety of growing landscapes, from running and still water, to woodland and wildflower meadows. Highlights include the lavish Main Borders, bursting with generous prairie-style planting, and the lush, moisture-loving plants around Streamside.
Food and drink
Bettys Café Team Rooms and Tea House are perfect options to grab a refreshment and bite to eat.
Garden opening times: 9.30am – 4pm Mon-Sun
Garden Centre opening times: 10am – 4pm Mon-Sun
5. Ribblehead Viaduct
Low Sleights Road, Carnforth (24 miles away)
Ribblehead Viaduct is just over the border from Cumbria into North Yorkshire and is undoubtedly the most impressive structure on the Settle-Carlisle Railway.
Hundreds of railway builders (“navvies”) lost their lives building the line, from a combination of accidents, fights, and smallpox outbreaks. In particular, building the Ribblehead (then Batty Moss) viaduct, with its 24 massive stone arches 104 feet (32 metres) above the moor, caused such loss of life that the railway paid for an expansion of the local graveyard.
The best local walks
Located in the North East corner of Lancashire and within the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Gisburn Forest offers fantastic mountain biking with beautiful views.
Plan your day
The forest is open from dawn until dusk, 7 days a week. The Gisburn Café is not open every weekend – check the Facebook page for more information.
What to do
There are 6 walking trails, 4 cycling trails, horse riding facilities, a play area and bike hire
2. Ingleborough Nature Trail
Ingleborough Estate Nature Trail, Clapham, Lancaster, LA2 8EE (13.1 miles away)
The Ingleborough Estate Nature Trail is a 1.3mile walk that is popular with people of all ages.
The walk passes a sprawling man-made lake and through a wooded valley to the open dale and the imposing entrance to Ingleborough Cave. Allow a minimum of half an hour for this walk along a gravel path, slightly uneven here and there and with some uphill gradients.
3. Clitheroe – Brungerley Park and Sculpture Trail
103 Waddington Rd, Clitheroe, BB7 2HN (13.2 miles away)
The Ribble Valley Sculpture Trail was launched in 1993. The first of its kind to be established in Lancashire, which now includes over 20 permanent works of art. The trail travels through Brungerley Park and Cross Hill Quarry – a local nature reserve managed by the Lancashire Wildlife Trust, only a mile from Clitheroe town centre.
4. Skipton Woods
Skipton Castle Woods, Skipton, BD23 1AW (16.1 miles away)
The best way to experience Skipton Castle Woods is to visit by walking along the spectacular tow path from Mill Bridge in the heart of Skipton. On arrival in the wood, you will find a site map full of interesting features, suggested walking routes and more activities to try.
Trees and History
Most of Skipton’s ancient woodland is a mix of broadleaf trees such as oak, ash, lime, alder, hornbeam, holly, hazel and beech. But you’ll also find yew, Scots pine and Norway spruce.
Bats, Birds and Wildlife Spotting
Skipton Castle Woods supports a rich diversity of wildlife including many bats, birds and deer. If you visit at dusk you will come across Britain’s smallest bat, the brown long-eared pipistrelle, or another of the five unique species of bat which call the wood home. The wood is just as interesting for bird watchers as up to 28 species of bird are recorded here regularly.