National Character Area 33

Bowland Fringe and Pendle Hill - Analysis: Landscape Attributes & Opportunities

Analysis supporting Statements of Environmental Opportunity

The following analysis section focuses on the landscape attributes and opportunities for this NCA.

Further analysis on ecosytem services for this NCA is contained in the Analysis: Ecosytem Services section.

Landscape attributes


Undulating, rolling landscape with local variation created by numerous river valleys and by the moorland outliers of Beacon Fell, Longridge Fell and Pendle Hill.

Justification for selection:

  • The combination of topography, tree cover and field enclosure creates a sense of intimacy in contrast to the expanse of the coastal plain and exposed moorland heights.
  • 13 rivers flow through the NCA totalling 172 km.
  • Elevation ranges from 9.23 m to 549.66 m.

The Bowland Fells provide a dramatic backdrop to the north with extensive views across the river valleys and Lancashire plain below.

Justification for selection:

  • The NCA is a transitional landscape which wraps around the upland core of the Bowland Fells.
  • The transition from plain to fell landscape is rapid and reflects the existence of a substantial geological boundary fault which separates the soft Permo-Triassic rocks from the harder Carboniferous rocks.

Drumlins on the northern edge of the area.

Justification for selection:

  • Glacial drift deposits have given rise to a repetitive pattern of rounded hills or drumlins which creates a distinctive rolling landform characteristic of the northern edge of the NCA associated with the rivers Lune and Ribble.

Strong mounded outcrops or ‘reef knolls’ of limestone form distinct landscape features in the Ribble and Hodder valleys.

Justification for selection:

  • The Clitheroe Knoll Reefs SSSI comprises a road cutting and four small hills between the villages of Worston and Downham near the market town of Clitheroe. The hills are important examples of an early Carboniferous “knoll reefs” complex. In conjunction with other well exposed sites in the Clitheroe area, the complex shows one of the best examples of such reefs in Northern England.

Ancient semi-natural woodland dominated by oak, ash and alder.

Justification for selection:

  • Calf Hill and Cragg Woods SSSI/SAC occupies the north and south-facing slopes of a steep-sided valley above the River Conder, a tributary of the River Lune. The woods support one of the most extensive stands of upland oak-birch woodland in Lancashire, as well as large stands of valley alder woodland with wet birch woodland

Isolated country houses set in formal parkland.

Justification for selection:

  • Large country houses set in their own parkland include Abbeystead House, Ellel Grange, Waddow Hall, Bolton Park and Leagram Hall.

Distinctive boundary features including drystone walls, metal railings and hedgerows.

Justification for selection:

  • The intricate small-medium scale fields reflect a long process of piecemeal colonisation and assartment.
  • 557,190 m of hedgerow under Environmental Stewardship as at March 2011.
  • 513,692 m of dry-stone wall under Environmental Stewardship as at March 2011.
  • Metal railings around estate boundaries are characteristic of the southern and western edges of the NCA.
  • Medium to small-scale fields are defined by hedgerows with mature hedgerow trees.

Land use is mainly permanent, improved pasture for livestock and dairy farming.

Justification for selection:

  • Most of the NCA (86 per cent) is medium grade (3 or 4) agricultural land.
  • In 2009, 52 per cent of the commercial farm holdings were livestock and 23 per cent dairy.

Lush hay meadows and some rough grazing at higher elevations.

Justification for selection:

  • North Pennine Dales Meadows SAC encompasses the range of variation exhibited by Mountain hay meadows in the UK and contains the major part of the remaining UK resource of this habitat.
  • Wet rushy pastures of particular importance for breeding waders.

Numerous rivers, ox-bow lakes, reservoirs and field ponds.

Justification for selection:

  • 13 key rivers flow through the NCA totalling 172 km.
  • There is a high density of characteristic field ponds north of Preston.

A network of winding hedge-lined lanes connect small, often linear, villages, hamlets and scattered farmsteads, mostly built in local stone. Traditional stone barns are commonplace on higher ground and are of stone with slate or stone flag roofs.

Justification for selection:

  • Isolated stone villages tend to be nestled into the escarpments and are commonly characterised by distinctive becks, greens and mills each with their own unique charm.

Landscape opportunities

  • Protect the distinctive rolling landform from development on ridgelines and hilltops to maintain the predominantly open character of the landscape, by minimising vertical elements and built development.
  • Protect views to and from the area from large-scale developments that may erode the open and undeveloped character of the area.
  • Promote and protect the geological heritage of the area.
  • The conservation and management of riparian woodland, semi-natural and ancient woodland, hedgerows, hedgerow trees and avenues should be considered.
  • Maintain the areas highly distinctive stock of field boundaries and associated features, respecting differences in local style.
  • Species-rich hay meadows form valuable landscape and ecological areas.
  • The restoration and management of the characteristic field ponds north of Preston should be addressed.
  • Control built development to maintain vernacular styles and materials and the character of the build environment locally.
  • There are opportunities for the appropriate management of recreational sites so visitor pressures are minimised, and benefits and visitor experiences enhanced.