Rural Businesses Roll Out the Red Carpet for ‘Slow’ Tourists

16 March 2022

As the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty launches its 2022 ‘Discover Bowland’ Guide, rural business in the AONB’s Sustainable Tourism Network are gearing up for another 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 many local businesses have refocused and rebuilt during the pandemic and are now embracing ‘slow tourism’ in the amazing landscapes of the Forest of Bowland.

The AONB is a year-round tourist destination, with miles of footpaths and traffic-free cycle trails, outstanding local produce and ‘Dark Skies’ away from sources of light pollution making it increasingly popular for winter holidays. The 116-page Discover guide also includes a series of short break itineraries and useful information on accommodation, hospitality, events and outdoor activity providers.

Members of the Sustainable Tourism Network will be focusing on helping Bowland’s rural economy recover from the pandemic by encouraging visitors to support small business by travelling light, staying longer and exploring more.

This year’s guide celebrates a decade of peat restoration up on the Bowland Fells plus 10 years of wildflower regeneration in the natural hay meadows that are such an iconic aspect of the AONB’s small scale upland farms.

We’ve plotted six of the best walking routes on Pendle Hill and pulled together the ultimate Bowland itinerary packed with ideas to make the most of a long weekend or short break in the Forest of Bowland.

We investigate the legacy of Pendle’s remarkable radical women and help ourselves to a large slice of Pendle Peat Pie before celebrating Bowland’s food heroes: from artisan gin-makers to outstanding local cheese-makers and a food truck with a difference – parked up in one of the most picturesque locations imaginable.

The Discover Guide is the essential guide for everyone who wants to make the most of their time in Bowland, from locals who want to explore its further-flung reaches to day trippers and visitors who want to get beneath the surface of this unique rural oasis on the Lancashire-Yorkshire Border.

The guide was launched at Wood End Farm B&B and Alpaca Experience, Dunsop Bridge earlier this week and was attended by over 40 members of the Bowland Sustainable Tourism Business network, many of whom advertise within the guide which helps fund its production. The guide accompanies the launch of the Discover Bowland website in 2020 – funded by the AONB and Champion Bowland, a local charity which provides small grants for environment and community projects in the AONB.

Printed in a durable perfect-bound pocket-friendly format, the guide will be widely available at tourist information centres, hospitality and accommodation providers and other outlets across the Forest of Bowland AONB. The guide will also be available in digital format online.

Both the guide and the companion Discover Bowland website have a deliberate focus on extending the season into the autumn and winter months.

The Guide is free, but donations are welcome to Champion Bowland – the charity which supports sustainable tourism, environment and community projects across the AONB.

Forest of Bowland AONB sustainable tourism officer Hetty Byrne said:

“2021 was another challenging year for the rural economy, but thanks to the resilience and innovation shown by rural businesses in the Forest of Bowland, thousands of new visitors discovered the Forest of Bowland for the first time last summer.

“This year, we will be focused on welcoming visitors back to perhaps stay a little longer, make a weekend or short break of it and really get beneath the surface of Bowland to discover its true nature.

“We hope the Discover Guide and Discover Bowland website will continue to increase awareness of Bowland’s outstanding natural beauty and inspire visitors to stay longer, explore more and – ideally – spend more money with local businesses.”

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