Northern England – Forest of Bowland, Lancashire
Distance: 21km/12 miles
Time: Time 5-6hrs
Where: Circular walk from Dunsop Bridge in the Forest of Bowland.
Start/End: Dunsop Bridge (SD660501).
Terrain: Boggy moorland, with some steady ascents, stiles and a small stretch of paved road.
Maps : OS Explorer OL41; Landranger 103.
Hang your hat amid the sheer, isolated desolation of Whitendale Hanging Stones and – says the Ordnance Survey – you’re at the very centre of Great Britain and its outlying islands. But there is more to Bowland than merely massaging your inner pedant. A remote Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, it hosts the UK’s largest breeding site for hen harriers, and is also home to merlins, short-eared owls and ring ouzel. The 17th-century Pendle witches, outrageously accused of murder by witchcraft, hailed from here too. What’s more, Bowland isn’t really a forest (much of the area is moorland) but retains the name as a former royal hunting forest, as the New Forest does. But it proved too arduous a journey for the gentlemen of London, and ownership deteriorated into something of a free-for-all. The Duke of Westminster now owns a sizeable chunk. This mixed history made Bowland a cause célèbre among campaigners demanding the right to roam and, perhaps in recognition of this, Bowland was the first area to be opened up under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000.
Click below to see a route profile and view the route on an Ordnance Survey map