Reconnect and Recharge

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 hello@bowlandandbay.co.uk

Based below Nicky Nook fell, Lancashire 07476 001539

hello@bowlandandbay.co.uk

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

www.dalehousebarn.co.uk

ashforddominique1@mac.com

NaturesGems Tours

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: naturesgemtours@gmail.com.

Patty’s Barn

Patty’s Barn is a collection of 10 self-catering cottages all full of character and original features. Situated on the edge of Morecambe Bay and just south of the bustling, historic city of Lancaster.

With the great outdoors directly on the doorstep, we welcome you to indulge in the constant change of nature whilst enjoying the unspoilt natural beauty of the surrounding area. The perfect spot for a rural coastal retreat with family and loved ones.

Our accommodation can sleep up to 54 people combined with a combination or indoor and outdoor events spaces. We welcome group bookings.

Patty's Barn, Hillam Lane, Cockerham, LA2 0DY 01524 751 285

www.pattysbarn.co.uk

farm@pattysbarn.co.uk

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

RSPB Leighton Moss

leighton.moss@rspb.org.uk

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

www.thegatheringfields.co.uk

info@northernapproach.co.uk

The Rewilding

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

The Rewilding

hello@the-rewilding.com

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

www.visitwoodendfarm.co.uk

visitwoodendfarm@gmail.com

Champion Bowland Charity no. 1177246

Discover Bowland is owned and administered by Champion Bowland, a Charitable Incorporated Organisation which aims to promote the conservation, protection and improvement of the physical and natural environment of the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. 


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