Lancashire’s AONBs join forces to promote sustainable tourism

8 August 2022

The Forest of Bowland and Arnside and Silverdale AONBs have joined forces to promote sustainable tourism in rural Lancashire this summer and beyond.

Lancashire’s Eco Escapes campaign encourages visitors to arrive by train and explore the two AONBs on foot, by bike or on e-bike. These outstandingly beautiful landscapes are readily accessible from railway stations at Bentham, Carnforth, Clitheroe, Lancaster and Silverdale.

Taking a breather, Dunsop Valley © Mark Tattersall

The Eco Escapes website: provides car-free sustainable travel plans which link main stations and visitor attractions and highlight visitor destinations which support sustainable tourism. Visiting these destinations will support Lancashire’s rural businesses – which were hit hard during Covid – and build momentum behind a new model of less carbon intensive tourism in these fragile rural environments.

Sustainable or ‘slow’ tourism is moving up the travel agenda and the good news is that many of Lancashire’s outstanding natural environments can be reached by train and explored on foot, by bike – or increasingly – by e-bike.

The initiative encourages visitors to take the train and discover Lancashire’s unique limestone coastline at Silverdale on the edge of Morecambe Bay or explore the remote uplands of the Forest of Bowland on foot or by bike or e-bike in an active staycation that explores some of the undiscovered rural oases that characterize the northern reaches of the Red Rose County.

The Skytower at Leighton Moss © Mark Tattersall

In Arnside and Silverdale AONB: discover distinctive local wildlife among Lancashire’s rugged limestone coast and follow meandering trails through dense deciduous woodland and wildflower meadows.

In the Forest of Bowland AONB: take a digital detox and explore the wide-open spaces, lonely uplands and secluded valleys of one of England’s most remote rural oases.

The Eco Escapes website is a rich resource for visitors who want to tread lightly, reduce their environmental impact and support local independent businesses.

As well as a series of ecotourism itineraries, a guide to sustainable and ethical businesses and an accommodation finder, the website also links to detailed walking and cycling routes, an events guide and details of seasonal wildlife and nature highlights.

Sustainable tourism businesses, hospitality and accommodation providers across the two AONBs are also completing green tourism training and accreditation as part of the Eco Escapes initiative.

Table at the Untamed Supper, The Rewilding at Patty’s Barn © Salar Media

Forest of Bowland AONB sustainable tourism officer Hetty Byrne said:

“For many, Lancashire conjures up images of cobbled streets and dark satanic mills, but the Red Rose County is also home to some outstandingly beautiful rural scenery and unique landscapes.

“The Forest of Bowland is an important stronghold for the iconic hen harrier and the increasingly endangered curlew, while osprey, bittern, otters, red squirrels and a host of scarce wildflowers are thriving in the limestone coastal landscapes of Arnside and Silverdale.

“Eco Escapes aims to protect and nurture our fragile environments while welcoming visitors who are happy to travel light, shop local and maybe a linger a while longer in these outstandingly beautiful landscapes.”


The New Inn, Yealand © Mark Tattersall

Councillor Shaun Turner, Lancashire Country Council cabinet member for environment and climate change said:

“Few people outside the county realise Lancashire has some extraordinarily beautiful rural landscapes; these hidden gems are some of the county’s best-kept secrets.”

“These overwhelmingly rural areas are increasingly reliant on tourism to prosper, yet tourism and hospitality businesses were some of the hardest hit by pandemic restrictions over the last two years.

“This is why we prioritised rural areas like the Forest of Bowland and Arnside and Silverdale with Rural Recovery Funding to help rural entrepreneurs reboot their businesses and build back better, more resilient rural enterprises to meet the increasing demand from visitors who really appreciate the benefits of spending time outdoors in Lancashire’s outstanding natural landscapes.”

“Supporting businesses in this way will not only encourage more spending in rural areas but will also help drive further investment in the rural economy going forward.”

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