Courses and Experiences
Alternative Adventure and Outdoor Activities Service
We deliver professionally run outdoor education and outdoor pursuits activities for the widest possible range of groups. Venues used are around the Lancashire, Merseyside and Greater Manchester area. This includes corporate events, management groups, Over 50’s clubs, hen parties, stag parties, adult and junior birthday parties, fun days for family groups, primary schools, junior schools and secondary schools, pupil referral units, special needs organisations, further education and sixth form colleges and youth groups.
Our activities include Rock Climbing, Forest Schools, Open Canoeing, Orienteering, Abseiling, Archery, Gorge Walking, Caving, Mobile Climbing Walls, Problem Solving Exercises, Mountain Biking, Sea Cliff Traversing, Team Building Exercises, Kayak Canoeing, Mountain Walks, Winter Skills, Navigation, Raft Building and more.
We deliver qualification course from a number of National Governing Bodies.
Be A Garden Maker
A beautiful small garden centre located in a rural location. Lovely tearoom serving homemade traditional food, dogs welcome. Easy access for limited mobility. Gift shop and reclamation shop in our onsite barns also gives interesting things for our home and garden.
Coars Farm, Wigglesworth, BD23 4SN01729 840848
Bentham Golf Course
Bentham Golf Course is a picturesque, family-run 18 hole golf course situated at the foot of the Yorkshire Three Peaks. Previously described as ‘a Diamond of the Dales’, Bentham offers a challenge to golfers of all abilities and visitors are welcome every day of the week.
Bentham Golf Course, Robin Lane, High Bentham, LA2 7AG015242 62455
Bowland and Bay
As the Forest of Bowland’s reputation for artisan food spreads across the country, Katie Wilson at Bowland and Bay is showcasing some of Lancashire’s best artisan food and drink
After 30 years in various tourism and buying roles, the pandemic prompted Katie Wilson to reappraise her life and start her own business.
After 2020 she set her heart on supporting independent artisans in her homeland, developing sustainable micro-adventures, that bring visitors closer than ever before to the latest and finest food around the Forest of Bowland AONB.
Bowland and Bay specialises in food tours across the Forest of Bowland and Morecambe Bay – showcasing the very best produce the region has to offer.
From the wheel of her comfortable Mercedes people carrier, Katie takes groups of up to eight on a magical foodie tour of the finest artisans in the region.
Created for food lovers, in the belief that by eating together and sharing stories, visitors have the opportunity to really engage with producers and reconnect with Lancashire’s unique ‘terroir’ on a deeper level.
Katie’s itineraries offer full and half day food tours, each include 7-8 artisan foodie adventures for adults and children over the age of 12 years. Adventures can include cheese and ice cream at the farm, freshly made bakes and comfort classics. Visiting award winning micro-brewers, gin distilleries and inns. There are plenty of opportunities to buy pantry delights along the way.
Strictly for grown-ups are Katie’s weekend Brewery Tours, visiting five breweries, where guests can taste over 15 beers or sample local craft gins, alongside superb street food.
“For me, Lancashire is one of the UK’s hidden gems,” said Katie. “Our food scene is right up there with renowned foodie hotspots like Burgundy in France or Portland in Oregon and a lot of that is down to our climate.
“Lancashire’s climate means we have incredibly lush grass which in turn means our farmers produce great milk which is turned into some of the best cheese in the country.
“The climate also means we can produce great beef, and all the products you associate with that – including, of course, our famous pies!
“We also have the coastline of Morecambe Bay within easy reach, and the unique seafood that this iconic part of the English coastline produces.
“Lancashire really has it all and I think it’s time the county really shouted about its food culture – not just for foodies from the UK – but from all over the world.”Katie Wilson, Bowland and Bay
Katie runs bespoke tours for larger groups or scheduled tours which couples or individuals can join and meet fellow foodies on the day. There’s such a vast array of options, no two tours are identical and customers can shape their own itinerary to match their tastes, interests and appetites!
“We might visit six or eight artisan producers, ranging from fantastic bakers and pastry chefs, to microbreweries in a barn, a gin distillery high up in the fells or a Michelin-starred restaurant,” said Katie. “One thing you can be sure of however, you won’t go home hungry. This is Lancashire, we do things properly here – there’s no half measures or tiny portions!”
Bowland and Bay Food tours start at £85 per person for a half-day Lancashire Foodie Adventure – including all tastings. For more details, consult our tour schedule.
Contact us direct to discuss your specific needs: 07476 001539 or email@example.com
Based below Nicky Nook fell, Lancashire 07476 001539
Bowland Wild Boar Park
Nestling beside the River Hodder in a remote valley beneath the rugged ridgeline of the Bleasdale Fells, Bowland Wild Boar Park maintains a tradition dating back to the middle ages – along with a host of fun activities for the whole family.
The Wild Boar was a fearsome creature which once roamed wild across the ancient Forest of Bowland – inspiring fear and reverence among local foresters in equal measure.
Today, wild boar continue to flourish in the Forest of Bowland, but only within the confines of one of the Forest of Bowland’s most popular – and sustainable – visitor attractions. And as well as nurturing the Forest’s only remaining population of wild boar, the park is home to a whole host of fascinating animals – from owls and deer to ostriches and meerkats.
Located between the pretty farming village of Chipping and the ancient hamlet of Whitewell, the Wild Boar Park lies at the heart of an especially scenic corner of the AONB known known as ‘Little Bowland’.
As the name suggests, visitors can expect to get up close and personal with the area’s population of wild boar – and usually a handful of super-cute stripey boarlets – but the park’s other residents are equally engaging – especially for children.
Alongside traditional farm animals like rare breed sheep, goats, pigs, chickens and ducks, visitors can also see native species like red deer and rabbits. In addition, the park has a whole menagerie of altogether more exotic species, ranging from the perennially popular meerkat family, to emus and ostriches, alpacas and llamas. Some of these animals can be hand-fed and petted at certain times of day – check the website for details as timings vary.
The park also has an adventure playground and zipwire, tractor and trailer rides and signposted short wildlife walks suitable for the whole family. And after a busy morning getting to know all manner of furry and feathered friends, why not adjourn to the café for hot and cold snack? There’s indoor and outdoor seating and a separate ice cream parlour for those long hot days of summer.
We also have our Rare Breed meat sales in the shop. Indoor activities come rain or shine in the Barn and Education Centre next to the Playground.*
- Ice Cream Parlour and Café serving homemade food (Take away only)
- Barrel, Tractor and Trailer rides *
- Lamb Feeding, Chick Holding *
- Tank Experience
- See Llamas, Red Deer, Ostriches and lots more!
- Camping pods
- Mobility scooter/Tramper available to book
The park is open weekends and midweek during peak season from 10.30am to 4.30pm and dogs on leads are welcome.
Bowland Wild Boar Park, Leagram, Chipping, Preston, PR3 2QT01995 61075
The Parker family has been associated with the Forest of Bowland for more than five centuries and their family seat of historic Browsholme Hall is the oldest family home in continuous occupation in Lancashire.
Browsholme Hall is a magnificent Grade I listed Tudor Hall, displaying an eclectic collection of museum quality artefacts alongside a recently restored Eighteenth Century Tithe barn.
Set amid 600 acres of picturesque parkland, informal gardens and extensive woodland, Browsholme tells a social story of family and local history spanning some 500 years; its origins within the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and its interaction with the local and regional community.
The Parker family has been associated with the care and custodianship of this pretty corner of the Forest of Bowland for 16 generations and they continue to maintain their obligations to the area and preserve their ancestral legacy with pride.
The hall itself dates back to 1507, and despite numerous updates and alterations over the years, Browsholme boasts one of the finest surviving antiquarian interiors in England, displaying a vast collection of family treasured collected over five centuries ranging from the skull of a martyr thought to have been executed following the pilgrimage of grace, to bronze age swords, Roman glasswork and a comprehensive collection of oil paintings.
The grounds are a wildlife-rich natural oasis, comprising mature woodlands, ornamental lakes and acres of beautifully maintained formal and informal gardens.
Although it is still very much a family home, Browsholme is open to visitors on Tuesdays and Wednesdays during the spring and summer months and also hosts special events, functions and bespoke weddings.
Guided Tours: Every Wednesday until October 26.
Tearoom and gardens: Wednesday 11am – 4pm until December 14.
Accommodation is also available within the estate grounds in a handful of cottages and eco-lodges – contact Browsholme for further details or visit the website.
Browsholme Hall, Clitheroe Road, Cow Ark, Clitheroe, Lancashire, BB7 3DE01254 827160
I’m a watercolour artist and illustrator and I also have a lovely little shop/studio at Wyresdale Park, where I sell my artwork and also hold watercolour workshops.
I specialise in nursery and children’s artwork, inspired by animals, nature and all things whimsical. My aim is to gently inspire and educate children from an early age, to love and to care for the nature around them. Whether it be through my nursery prints, nature activities or children’s books. I strongly believe that little nature lovers, naturally grow into BIG nature lovers, who will then go on to help protect our lovely little planet and all it inhabits.
I like to keep things local to Lancashire – I’m naturally inspired by the wildlife and nature found in and around Wyresdale Park. Which is where my shop/studio is based and where all my paintings come to life. The prints are then printed, mounted and packaged locally in Lancashire, whilst also supporting other local and independent businesses.
I like to make everything eco-friendly (where possible) and I’m also hoping to give back to nature VERY soon by donating a percentage of print sales to planting trees locally in Lancashire through the Wyre Rivers Trust.
Wyresdale Park, Snowhill Lane, Scorton, PR3 1BA07872567824
Eco-friendly art, inspired by animals, nature and all things whimsical
Dale House Barn Luxury B&B
Michelin-trained chef Dominique Ashford has tuned into the slower rhythms of nature after swapping the top end restaurants of London for wild food and foraging in the Forest of Bowland
For a really wild adventure in one of the most remote parts of the Forest of Bowland, Dale House Barn ticks a lot of boxes.
This pretty farmhouse B&B and camping barn is the ideal location for a peaceful rural retreat to recharge the batteries or an action-packed weekend of walking, cycling, foraging and cooking.
Nestling beneath the craggy outcrops of Bowland Knotts, high above the sparkling waters of Stocks Reservoir, Dale House Barn is the perfect base from which to explore Bowland on foot or by bike.
And there’s no need to rough it in this isolated location. Dominique is an experienced chef and her cookery and bread making courses are incredibly popular with guests. As you’d expect, the food is pretty awesome, too and most of Dominique’s guests book in for dinner and her legendary breakfast while staying at Dale House.
Dominique worked primarily as a pastry chef for over 25 years in some of the best kitchens in the UK – including the Roux brothers, Terence Conran’s Le Pont de la Tour, The Houses of Parliament and Aiden Byrne.
Dominique now uses her skills and imagination to devise dishes that include as much wild, seasonal, local and sustainable produce as possible with an aim to have zero waste.
Partner Andrew is a keen outdoorsman and a local game keeper who provides Dale House with a steady supply of venison, rabbit, wild duck and pigeon. And despite the accent on local game, vegetarians and vegans are well catered for too!
Complemented by foraged herbs, leaves and berries and locally grown vegetables, be it breakfast, afternoon tea or dinner, mealtimes are always a highlight at Dale House.
Dominique hosts a wide range of food and rural skills courses, which all take place in the farmhouse kitchen and a purpose-built professional kitchen.
Each course is limited to maximum of five people with most run as private workshops for family and friends. Guests will chat, cook and eat their way through the day with plenty of opportunity to get involved on a practical level too.
For the more actively inclined, the traffic-free mountain bike trails of Gisburn Forest are a short ride away and a hilly 10k trail run around Stocks Reservoir is easily accessible.
Quiet road cycling routes and miles of wilderness walks start right from the farmhouse gate and if you need a bit of help to negotiate the hilly terrain, Ribble Valley E-bikes can deliver electric bikes direct to the door.
During the autumn and winter months, the Forest of Bowland’s dark skies offer amazing views of the planets and constellations while the onset of spring heralds the arrival of a host of rare visitors, including ospreys, ring ouzel, curlew and sky dancing hen harriers.
Hearty breakfasts with homemade bread, granola and preserves, eggs from our hens and locally sourced bacon and sausages. Packed lunches, hampers and picnics are also available. A perfect location for exploring the Forest of Bowland.
Dale house barn and B&B, Dale head farm, Slaidburn, Lancashire, BB7 4TS01200 411 095
Richard and Rachel Trenchard were quietly building a widely admired brand of artisan gin, distilled and rooted in the landscapes of Bowland – and then the Hairy Bikers dropped in for a quick G&T…
After developing an interest in handcrafted small batch gins, which bordered on an obsession, Richard and Rachel Trenchard decided to use over a decade of amassed knowledge to launch their own artisan spirit brand from an additional outbuilding at their home in the shadow of Beacon Fell.
Being gin obsessives, their approach was meticulous – from botanicals which reflect the local area or promote the rich geography and heritage of Bowland, to the artwork for the label and the distinctive retro bottles, nothing was left to chance.
The end product was – perhaps unsurprisingly – a stand-out gin, which was an immediate hit with gin connoisseurs across Lancashire and beyond, winning a prestigious Gold award at the International Wine and Spirit Competition in 2019.
New bottlings – or ‘chapters’ joined the range – all remaining true to the couple’s core values of distilling an authentic artisan product inspired by – and rooted in – the Forest of Bowland.
Following on from the original Chapter One – Signature Gin, which is distilled with 14 botanicals designed to capture the essence of Bowland, was Chapter Two – Dark Skies – a deeper, more warming gin inspired by the glittering starscapes of Bowland’s velvety black night skies.
Further chapters and seasonal releases followed – including Hay Time – flavoured with summer aromatics sourced in collaboration with local farmer Peter Blackwell whose wildflower meadows are some of the most species-rich in Northern England. Richard and Rachel make a donation to conservation projects in the Forest of Bowland for every bottle of Hay Time gin sold.
Alongside producing award-winning gins, Richard and Rachel opened a gin school, allowing visitors to come along and handcraft their own gin. Their foraging and distilling dates allow visitors to collect and distil with foraged botanical following the guidance of an expert forager on the same day.
And as the nation emerged from the first lockdown, a pair of celebrity foodies dropped in to see what all the fuss was about. Dave Myers and Si King – better known as the Hairy Bikers – spent a day making their own gin for their popular BBC TV series The Hairy Bikers Go North.
Si and Dave clearly enjoyed the experience – and after the programme aired for the first time in September 2021, Richard and Rachel were inundated with bookings from across the country and beyond. In response to the surge in demand for their products and experiences, the couple recently opened a second outlet at Wyresdale Park, near Scorton.
As well as a shop retailing the entire range of gins and associated merchandise, Goosnargh Gin’s new Wyresdale outlet will soon be hosting gin schools and other events. While the new shop is open from Thursday to Sunday from 10am to 4pm, advance booking is essential for gin school. Check the website and social media for updates.
Visitors are always welcome at Goosnargh Gin’s two outlets, but check opening times on the website first. Booking in advance is essential for gin school and foraging courses.
Eccles Moss Farm, Bleasdale Road, Whitechapel Preston, PR3 2ER | Goosnargh Gin at Wyresdale Park: The Courtyard, off Sheep Street (behind the Applestore Café)01995 641001
Experienced naturalist and active conservationist Gemma Wren leads small groups on bespoke nature tours of Morecambe Bay and its diverse range of habitats.
Owned and operated by practising environment consultant Gemma Wren, NaturesGems Tours offers immersive wildlife experiences in some of the county’s most nature-rich environments.
Most of Gemma’s tours take place within the Arnside and Silverdale AONB or Lake District National Park, exploring coastal, woodland and upland environments and observing the species which live there.
The half-day tours offer a taste of the AONB and its wildlife, visiting a number of local nature reserves and established wildlife-watching locations which vary according to the season and which species are likely to be in the area.
The full-day tours offer visitors an opportunity to really immerse themselves in the habitations of Arnside and Silverdale and chalk up an enviable list of rarities, including bittern, hen harrier and osprey, waders, warblers, otters and – in the summer months – rare butterflies and dragonflies and some spectacular orchids on the chalk grasslands of the AONB.
Your itinerary could include RSPB Leighton Moss, Foulshaw Moss, Whitbarrow Scar and Gaitbarrows and will involve a walk of around six miles. A picnic lunch of wholesome local produce is provided by local business Baba Ganoush, who use eco-friendly packaging and local ingredients for their tasty vegetarian lunches.
Everyone with an interest in nature is welcome, from beginners to the more experienced, but as they inevitably involve a significant amount of walking in hilly and sometimes rough terrain, they may not be suitable for those with mobility or health issues.
Gemma can also arrange bespoke tours for individuals and small groups and while she can cater for family groups by prior arrangement, the tours aren’t generally suitable for children under 10 years of age.
Most visitors bring their own binoculars or telescopes, but Gemma has a small number of high-quality optics which guests may borrow for the day.
“One of the beauties of the AONB is the sheer variety of species you find here in the AONB,” said Gemma. “We’re right on the intersection between the northern boundary of many southern species and the southern boundary of northern species and this part of Morecambe Bay has a sort of microclimate where all these species can co-exist.
“This unique environment – along with the huge seasonal changes which sweep across the Bay as the year unfolds – mean that no two trips are quite the same and there are usually one or two surprises along the way.”
Get in touch
Gemma’s website contains more information on NaturesGems tour schedule: www.naturesgemtours.co.uk. Or email Gemma on: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ribble Valley E-Bikes
Based in Dunsop Bridge in the heart of the Forest of Bowland, Ribble Valley e-bikes has a fleet of electric bikes available for visitors to hire and explore Bowland straight from the shop.
Our hire shop in the pretty village of Dunsop Bridge is at the heart of the Forest of Bowland and within easy reach of some superb on and off-road routes – and a safe, largely traffic-free bridleway for families to explore.
Within a couple of miles’ riding, you’ll soon discover another benefit of e-bike touring: they make climbing hills a doddle. Both the Forest of Bowland and the Ribble Valley are very hilly, which makes touring on a standard push bike quite a challenge.
If you decide to make a weekend of it, we can arrange delivery e-bikes to your accommodation so you can enjoy a ride direct from the door.
And if you’re looking for the ultimate car-free adventure, we can also arrange two or three-day rentals where we will look after luggage transfer while you cycle from inn to inn.
We will also give you a comprehensive handover and supply a puncture repair outfit, helmets and a full technical back up and recovery service in the unlikely event of breakdowns.
Choose from meandering road rides which incorporate plenty of stops at local points of interest or more challenging off-road routes which get you even closer to nature in some of England’s most breathtaking scenery.
Guided and self-guided tours
We have devised a collection of circular e-bike routes which showcase the best rides and scenery – and local hospitality – in the Forest of Bowland Ribble Valley.
We can provide paper printouts of these routes when you collect your bikes, or alternatively, for more technologically advanced riders, we can supply GPX routes for upload to your smartphone to equip you with ‘cycle satnav’.
For families and larger groups, we can also arrange ‘e-bike safaris’ with an experienced local guide, who will take you to the most amazing beauty spots and viewpoints and provide technical support and advice on getting the most out of your time in the area.
Dunsop Bridge Garage Dunsop Bridge Clitheroe Lancashire, BB7 3BB01200 426246
RSPB Leighton Moss
Conveniently located just a 200m walk from Silverdale station, Leighton Moss is one of the RSPB’s most accessible reserves and home to a host of spectacular wildlife, from marsh harriers and ospreys to red deer and otters.
Conveniently located just a 200m walk from Silverdale station, Leighton Moss is one of the RSPB’s most accessible reserves and home to a host of spectacular wildlife, from marsh harriers and ospreys to red deer and otters.
RSPB Leighton Moss was established to protect one of Britain’s rarest and most elusive birds – the bittern – but since its inception in the 1960s, this huge expanse of wetlands and reedbeds has attracted a whole host of wonderful wildlife.
The bittern remains the star of the show – especially in spring, when males can be heard ‘booming’ from deep within the reedbeds from February onwards. This unearthly call is made by the bittern inflating its throat and the sound can carry for around three miles across the reserve.
Other spring migrants begin to arrive from early March, when the first warblers begin singing in the woodland, followed closely by sand martins, swallows and swifts and the majestic osprey – which looks set to breed at Leighton Moss in the next year or two.
And there’s much more to Leighton Moss than birdlife. The marshy wetlands are home to dozens of beautiful wildflowers, which in turn attract a host of insects and pollinators – including some colourful species of moths and butterfly and brightly jewelled damsel and dragon flies.
Remain stealthy as you wander along the footpaths and wooden walkways and you could also catch a glimpse of an otter or a deer in the quieter reaches of the reserve.
And in the winter months, Leighton Moss hosts one of the most enthralling natural spectacles viewable in the UK. As dusk descends over the reserve, tens of thousands of starlings gather in the skies above the reserve, wheeling and swirling back and forth across the setting sun as they prepare to roost in the reedbeds.
These murmurations can last for several minutes as the birds paint mesmerising patterns across the sky before suddenly diving en masse for the shelter of the reedbeds.
Leighton Moss comprises reedbeds, mudflats, coastal marsh and saltwater lagoons, all set against the shores of the nearby Morecambe Bay. The best vantage point to appreciate the different elements of the reserve is from the elevated skytower observation platform just a short walk from the visitor centre.
The RSPB has increased the size of the reedbeds in recent years, adding a further 200 hectares and they need to be extensively cut back in summer and winter to create ideal conditions for bearded tits, otters, bitterns and wintering wildfowl.
The mudflats and saltmarsh around Morecambe Bay support important wintering populations of oystercatchers and knots, as well as breeding redshanks and wintering wildfowl. The inner marshes are grazed by cattle to create suitable conditions for these birds and provide a mix of established trees and new growth throughout the year.
The limestone grassland and woodland surrounding the reserve are home to nationally important plants and insects, including the rare high brown and pearl-bordered fritillary butterflies.
The reserve has seven fully weatherproof birdwatching hides stretching over several miles of footpaths and walkways and the visitor centre has a shop selling bird foods, books and optics and a welcoming café offering hot and cold snacks and drinks, with some outdoor seating available.
The reserve is open year-round and hosts a busy schedule of wildlife events which are open to the public – check the website for details. RSPB Leighton Moss also has a Tramper all-terrain mobility scooter available for visitors for restricted mobility. Call the visitor centre at Leighton Moss on 01524 701601 to book the Tramper in advance.
Myers Farm, Storrs Lane, Silverdale, Carnforth LA5 0SW01524 701601
Smelt Mill Outdoor Centre
Smelt Mill provides accommodation for groups in the heart of the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It is ideally located for outdoor activities such as walking, mountain biking and bird watching.
- Rooms – 5 x 2 beds, 3 x 4 beds and 1 x 6 beds
- Full central heating
- Lounge with log fire
- Professionally equipped kitchen
- A multi-purpose room for activities and dining
- Showers and changing rooms
- Drying room
- Multi-media presentation equipment and satellite TV
- Indoor climbing wall
- Garden area suitable for activities, games BBQ etc
- Camping with toilet and shower area
- Guest WiFi
- Limited Off-road car parking
Smelt Mill Cottages Trough Road Dunsop Bridge Clitheroe Lancashire BB7 3BH
The Courtyard Dairy
The finest cheese – delivered to your door. It’s no wonder The Daily Telegraph lists The Courtyard Dairy as one of the Top 10 Cheese Shops in the World. The Courtyard Dairy is a truly special cheese maturer and shop. Housed in an thick walled, old Yorkshire Dales barn it is a cool and humid shop where cheeses are piled high; perfect for ageing cheese. Owned by Andy and Kathy Swinscoe, who have a background working for some of Europe’s finest cheesemongers and affineurs (from London to Lyon), The Courtyard Dairy’s ethos is to only sell and champion truly special cheese. Only stocking 30 selected cheeses, all the cheese are made very traditionally on farms, most are unpasteurised. They are all hand-selected and chosen at the farm before being aged to perfection, you’ll get to try and sample some truly unique and unheard of cheeses.
The excellence of this shop dedicated to championing and keeping alive farmhouse cheese has not gone unnoticed: winners of multiple awards including: Cheesemonger of the Year (World Cheese Awards 2013), ‘Food Shop of the Year’ (Farm Shop & Deli Awards 2020), BBC Food & Farming Awards. It has already become a renowned destination cheesemongers, as regulars and visitors have the opportunity to sample and purchase some of the finest cheese to be found, and now you can have these very fine cheeses delivered direct to your door.
Cheesemonger of the Year (World Cheese Awards 2013 and Farm Shop & Deli Awards 2020), Food Retailer of the Year 2020
Crows Nest Barn Austwick LA2 8AS
The Gathering Fields
After returning to her childhood home, natural therapist Helen Leece established a centre for wellbeing and renewal high among the hills on the western fringe of the Forest of Bowland.
The Gathering Fields is a rural Retreat centre teaching Yoga, Meditation, Cookery and Wild medicine. The centre can be hired by companies and community groups and hosts a variety of retreats based around wellbeing in nature.
Standing some 140 metres above sea level, Swainshead Hall Farm, enjoys an elevated position offering amazing views of both the fells and the wide sweep of Morecambe Bay, with the hazy outline of the Lakeland Fells peeping over the northern horizon.
It’s a truly enchanting view that’s entirely in keeping with the aura that permeates this magical rural hideaway overlooking the upper Wyre Valley and the Ward Stone – the highest point in the Bowland Fells.
Helen returned to her family home – a working hill farm of some 280 aces – after a varied career which saw her qualify as a holistic therapist and practitioner of Ayurveda – an Indian-based holistic medical system incorporating diet, lifestyle and herbal medicine.
She immediately set about diversifying, converting the outbuildings into cosy bunkhouse accommodation and indoor and outdoor spaces for learning and discovery, which she christened ‘The Gathering Fields.’
“This little community has been a place where people have come together in friendship for centuries and we want to preserve those traditions,” said Helen. “The name the Gathering Fields seems to capture that instinct for like-minded people to share each others’ company in a relaxed and open setting.”
Ideal for extended families or informal friendship groups, community groups and charities, the Gathering Fields offers yoga, Sound relaxation, herbal foraging with a medicinal twist, Flower essence making or simply revelling in the glorious countryside on the doorstep.
Alongside the camping barn – which was once a cowshed – there’s also a paddock to pitch tents and a wonderfully expansive covered outdoor seating area complete with communal firepit to while away the evenings around the campfire.
A recently restored community pub is a shortish hike across the fields, while the ridgeline of surrounding hills can be reached on foot within an hour. The Gathering Fields also makes the perfect base for exploring the quiet roads and wild trails of Bowland on road, mountain or electric bikes.
“We encourage a ‘back to nature’ approach to stays on the farm,” said Helen. “But while it’s deliberately rustic, the camping barn has all mod cons, with hot and cold water, heating, toilets and indoor kitchen and plenty of room to dry out wet clothes and boots.
“Families love the sense of space and safety and seem to settle in and get comfortable in their surroundings very quickly. We know the surrounding area really well and can point guests in the direction of the best places to walk, cycle, explore – and enjoy a pint! We’ll even supply torches if they fancy a night hike.
“We welcome guests to share stories, skills, open fires, music, make friendships and from here we can bring people together to grow a community.”
Swainshead Hall Farm Over Wyresdale Nr Lancaster LA2 9DN07791254101
For big skies, wide open spaces and the perfect environment for rewilding yourself, head over to the windswept salt marshes of the Lancashire coast, where the Forest of Bowland meets the sea!
After travelling the world with a high-powered job for more than a decade, Lancashire lass Michelle Parry returned to her family farm with a mission to rewild herself and reverse the noise and clutter accumulated through 21st century culture by reconnecting with nature.
Now, Michelle runs a busy schedule of events, workshops and wellness retreats under the big skies of the Lancashire coast, where the emphasis is firmly on the healing power of place in a very special landscape on the salt marshes of Morecambe Bay in the shadow of the Bowland Fells.
“I consider myself one of the lucky ones who experienced life pre-mobile phones and computers,” says Michelle. “I have a lot of gratitude for my upbringing: running wild, making dens and being free-range and feral is what I always knew.
“Over the past 10 years I’ve witnessed the increasingly rapid disconnect humans have with the natural world. I’m one of the lucky ones who experienced life pre-mobile phones and computers.
“Today, I find it hard to wrap my head around how much this is impacting our daily lives, our connection with one another, our planet and the devastating impact it is having to our natural world, on our mental wellbeing, creating a broken ‘new normal’ for our future generations.
“Bridging the gap between the countryside and city life is something I’ve become increasingly passionate about. Here at the Rewilding, we’re on a mission to rewild our fellow humans and welcome you all along for the journey.”
One of the centrepieces of Michelle’s mission is the Untamed Supper Club – a series of informal semi al fresco dinners where anyone and everyone is welcome. As you’d expect, the accent here is on wild and foraged foods, served in the rustic surroundings of an old outbarn dressed for a feast.
The raw ingredients are overwhelmingly locally sourced and a ‘hyper-seasonal’ with food miles often in simple minds, but the cooking influences stretch around the world, from the Scandinavia to the Far East.
The dining is communal, with plates and platters passed between guests seated at a long trestle table where the food, wine and conversation flow as naturally as the tide seeping into the creeks on the salt marsh just a few yards away.
“As a farming family, food is very important to us,” said Michelle. “We’re connected to the land around us and understand the hardworking efforts that go into the production of every mouthful.
“To us, food represents far more than filling an empty space; it’s about the nourishment it gives our bodies in order to thrive and be healthy, the connection it brings when we come together with others. That’s the spirit that underpins our Untamed Suppers.”
Although it’s off the beaten track, The Rewilding is well connected with good public transport links to Lancaster and perfect terrain to explore on foot or by bike.
There are superb coastal walks direct from the farm gate and the excellent cycleways of Lancaster connect seamlessly with the quiet country lanes crossing the coastal floodplains.
The quirky little port of Glasson Dock is just a short ride away, from where a traffic-free cycleway runs along the Lune estuary into Lancaster and beyond to Morecambe, where another cycle route extends around the whole of Morecambe Bay.
For those who want to make a short break of it, combine a stay in the quality accommodation at Patty’s Barn and some foraging on the marsh with a foodie tour of Lancashire and the Forest of Bowland and a visit to the historic old port of Lancaster.
Patty's Barn, Cockerham, Lancaster, North West, United Kingdom07502 726596
Wild Fox Distillery
Deep in the heart of the Forest Bowland’s famed ‘Lancashire cheese triangle’, a traditional dairy farming family are ploughing their own furrow by producing a distinctive artisan gin with deep roots in the local landscape
Founded in 2019 as part of a farm diversification scheme, Wild Fox distillery has gone from strength to strength, winning the title of best rural drink business in the 2021 Rural Business Awards.
Established by fourth generation Lancashire farmers Rob and Lizzie Billington, the distillery draws pure, fresh water from its own bore hole and features subtle flavours from wild herbs foraged among the farm’s hedgerows for an authentic ‘farm-to-bottle’ product.
Lizzie’s career in new product development, instilled a real passion for creating new products which kept ‘real produce’ at the heart of each new line.
When the couple decided to diversify, Lizzie started exploring what the farm naturally had growing within the fields and hedgerows and combined with fruits and leaves from the orchard. She then purchased a small table top still and began experimenting. After trialling 47 recipes, they were happy they had a product worth sharing with world.
The range now extends to four gins plus seasonal specials including Ivy’s Signature Gin, Blushing Vixen and Twelve Bore – a spicy winter warmer flavoured with orange zest and ginger and bottled at a potent 45% proof!
Rob and Lizzie’s family has been associated with dairy farming and cheese making in Lancashire since 1932.
“For as long as I can remember, a G&T was the staple after-work tipple,” said Lizzie. “Once they’d finished the evening milking, mum and dad used to relax with a gin and tonic. It wasn’t trendy and there weren’t hundreds to choose from, it was simply a high-quality spirit enjoyed with tonic, ice and a slice.”
Alongside farming, Rob’s passion for agricultural engineering has come in handy for maintaining Ivy, the 50-litre copper column still which produces their gin.
Ivy now takes pride of place in a purpose-built distillery and café on the farm which nestles in the shadow of the Bowland Fells in the heart of Lancashire’s rich dairy farming pastureland.
The café welcomes visitors to watch Lizzie and colleagues making the gin and enjoy coffee and home-baked cakes – along with the occasional sample of the latest fruits of their labours.
The Wild Fox Distillery and café is open to the public Wednesday – Friday from 10am – 5pm and on Saturdays from 10am – 3pm for coffee, cake, gin tasting and nibbles. To reserve a table, email email@example.com or call 01995 641136.
For special events and tastings, visit the website: wildfoxdistillery.co.uk or follow Wild Fox on social media.
Button Street, Inglewhite, Preston, Lancashire, PR3 2LH01995 641136
Wood End Farm and Alpaca Experience
Our family have farmed here for over 100 years. It is a traditional hill farm, with beef and sheep, set in the beauty and tranquility of this unspoilt area in rural Lancashire.
We believe in preserving the best of traditional farming practice and work hard to conserve traditional hedgerows, meadows and dry stone walls. We have a double en-suite room and a twin ensuite room that can be changed to king-size if required. We offer a breakfast of your choice made from the finest local ingredients; free wifi; flat screen TV; tea making facilities; stair lift; off road parking and a beautiful garden.
We can also offer you an ‘alpaca experience’, beauty treatments or fusion therapeutic coaching – please ask for more information when you book. We can accommodate horses with a yard, tack room and field turnout and if you are a keen cyclist, fisherman or walker we have lockable storage, drying facilities and a hose in the yard.
Wood End Farm Dunsop Bridge Clitheroe BB7 3BE01200 448223