National Character Area 33

Bowland Fringe and Pendle Hill - Key Facts & Data

Landscape and nature conservation designations section contains a map

Note that numbers and figures in the body of the text are based on the 2014 profiles, unless otherwise stated. The maps contain live frequently updated datasets.

Some 52 per cent of the NCA (38,175 ha) falls within the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The Forest of Bowland AONB Management Plan provides a policy framework and identifies a 5-year programme of actions (April 2009 – March 2014) to help guide the work of the AONB partnership organisations towards achieving the purpose of this plan; to conserve and enhance the natural and cultural beauty of the Forest of Bowland landscape (Natural England, 2011).

Less than 1 per cent of the NCA (181 ha) falls within the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Please see NCA 21 Yorkshire Dales for further detail (Natural England, 2011).


Designated nature conservation sites

The NCA includes the following statutory nature conservation designations (Natural England, Special Protection Areas; Special Area of Conservation; Ramsars; National Nature Reserves; Sites of Special Scientific Interest and Local Nature Reserves, 2021):

Please note: (i) Designated areas may overlap (ii) all figures are cut to Mean High Water Line, designations that span coastal/marine areas below this line will not be included.

Condition of designated sites
All designated sites within England are covered by Sites of Scientific Interest (SSSI) units. The condition to these SSSI units within the NCA are as follows (Natural England, Sites of Special Scientific Interest Units, 2021):



Landscape and nature conservation designations map for NCA33

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Landform, geology and soils section contains a map

Note that numbers and figures in the body of the text are based on the 2014 profiles, unless otherwise stated. The maps contain live frequently updated datasets.

Elevation

The NCA is a transitional landscape which wraps around the upland core of the Bowland Fells. Elevation ranges within this NCA from 9m above sea level to 577m (Natural England, 2010).

Landform and process

This is an undulating and rolling landscape with local variation created by numerous river valleys and by the moorland outliers of Beacon Fell (266m), Longridge Fell (350 m) and Pendle Hill (577m) on the south side of the area (Bowland Fringe and Pendle Hill Countryside Character Area description).

Bedrock geology

The transition from plain to fell landscape is rapid and reflects the existence of a substantial boundary fault which separates the soft Permo-Triassic rocks from the harder Carboniferous rocks. In the south where the Brock Valley crosses the area, the coarse-grained sandstones of the Millstone Grit of Bowland give way to the softer calcareous mudstones, with limestone beds of the Carboniferous Limestone. The broad Ribble and Hodder Valleys broadly pick out the less resistant mudstones and limestones from the Millstone Grit rocks which form the fells. Within the valleys, strong moundy outcrops of reef knolls form distinctive landscape features, which give the area its special character (Bowland Fringe & Pendle Hill Countryside Character Area description).

Superficial deposits

The rapid transition from plain to fell landscape is softened by the presence of thicker glacial deposits around the edge of the upland area. The mouths of the valleys are commonly filled by broad, flat alluvial fans. Ribbons of alluvial sand, gravel and silt follow the courses of these streams. The solid rocks are overlain by a complex of glacial deposits comprising mainly thick tills but with extensive areas of moundy sand and gravel deposited from glacial meltwater. Distinctive drumlins form a characteristic landscape within the river valleys to the north and east (Bowland Fringe & Pendle Hill Countryside Character Area description).

Designated geological sites

The NCA includes the following geological sites (Natural England, Geological and Mixed Sites of Special Scientific Interest, 2021):

wdt_IDNCA_IDNAMENCAAreaHaInterest typeArea (ha) 2021Percent of NCA (2021)Count
2361NORTH NORTHUMBERLAND COASTAL PLAIN37,669.6Geological6.80.01
2371NORTH NORTHUMBERLAND COASTAL PLAIN37,669.6Mixed1,029.52.75
2382NORTHUMBERLAND SANDSTONE HILLS72,694.6Geological45.40.14
2393CHEVIOT FRINGE51,591.3Geological17.10.02
2404CHEVIOTS36,487.9Geological165.00.52
2414CHEVIOTS36,487.9Mixed3,488.99.61
2425BORDER MOORS AND FORESTS127,155.9Geological85.70.18
2435BORDER MOORS AND FORESTS127,155.9Mixed35.80.01
2446SOLWAY BASIN98,350.4Geological7.20.02
2456SOLWAY BASIN98,350.4Mixed5,569.25.74

Soils and Agriculture Classification

Poorer quality soils (Grade 4) occur in the higher areas around the Bowland Fells fringe and on the east side of the NCA. The better quality (Grade 3) soils occur around the north south-west and south. There are 8 main soilscape types in this area: Slowly permeable seasonally wet acid loamy and clayey soils, covering 57 per cent of the NCA. Slowly permeable wet very acid upland soils with a peaty surface (15 per cent); Slowly permeable seasonally wet slightly acid but base-rich loamy and clayey soils (6 per cent); Very acid loamy upland soils with a wet peaty surface (6 per cent); Freely draining slightly acid loamy soils (5 per cent); Freely draining floodplain soils (3 per cent); Loamy and clayey floodplain soils with naturally high groundwater (3 per cent) and Freely draining lime-rich loamy soils (1 per cent) (Natural England, 2010).

The main grades of agricultural land in the NCA are broken down as follows (as a proportion of total land area) (Natural England, Provisional Agricultural Land Classification, 2019):


Landform, geology and soils map for NCA33

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Key waterbodies and catchments section contains a map

Note that numbers and figures in the body of the text are based on the 2014 profiles, unless otherwise stated. The maps contain live frequently updated datasets.

Major rivers/canals

The following major rivers/canals (by length) have been identified in this NCA (Natural England, data informing the 2014 National Character Area Profiles, 2010):

wdt_IDREF_CODENAME_1NameLength (km)SumOfShape_Length
11NORTH NORTHUMBERLAND COASTAL PLAINRiver Aln7.67,587.2
21NORTH NORTHUMBERLAND COASTAL PLAINRiver Coquet5.55,516.0
31NORTH NORTHUMBERLAND COASTAL PLAINWhiteadder Water2.92,904.9
410NORTH PENNINESBlack Burn11.911,853.4
510NORTH PENNINESCroglin Water10.010,042.3
610NORTH PENNINESCrowdundle Beck4.34,337.4
710NORTH PENNINESDevil's Water20.520,464.6
810NORTH PENNINESHarwood Beck9.79,740.2
910NORTH PENNINESRiver Allen4.94,889.0
1010NORTH PENNINESRiver Derwent15.315,268.4

Please note: other significant rivers (by volume) may also occur. Tidal stretches of rivers are not included, which may include some major rivers.

Some 13 rivers flow through the NCA totalling 173 km. The NCA surrounds the Bowland Fells and contains the middle part of rivers that drain the upland area with its steep topography and narrow floodplains. The northern part of the NCA contains the River Lune and its tributaries the River Hindburn (which drains the northern slopes of the Bowland Fells NCA), the River Wenning (which drains northern slopes of the Bowland Fells NCA and south west parts of the Yorkshire Dales NCA), and the River Greta and Leck Beck (which drain the south-west parts of the Yorkshire Dales NCA). The River Lune itself has its source further north in the uplands of the Cumbria High Fells and Howgill Fells NCAs.

The western part of the NCA contains rivers which drain the western and south west slopes of the Bowland Fells – the River Wyre and its tributaries the rivers Calder and Brock as well as the River Conder which flows directly to the Irish Sea. The southern and eastern parts of the NCA contain the River Ribble, which has its source in the Yorkshire Dales NCA, and its tributaries the River Hodder and Tosside Beck which drain the southern and eastern slopes of the Bowland Fells NCA.

Water quality

Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (NVZs) are areas designated as being at risk from agricultural nitrate pollution. These can impact surface water (waterbodies and waterways located above ground) and groundwater (water bodies and waterways located below ground).

Waterbodies such as lakes can also be designated as “eutrophic waters” if the enrichment of the waterbody by nitrate pollution causes accelerated growth of algae, impacting the quality of the water and the balance of organisms within it.

The following NVZs are located within the NCA (Environment Agency, Nitrate Vulnerable Zones Designations, 2021):

Water framework directive

River basin management plans cover river basin districts and describe the challenges that threaten the water environment and how these challenges can be managed and funded. The plans include the classification of water quality of surface waters and ground waters.



Click on the Water Framework Directive layers on the below map to view the corresponding river names.

Key waterbodies and catchments map for NCA33

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Trees and woodlands section contains a map

Note that numbers and figures in the body of the text are based on the 2014 profiles, unless otherwise stated. The maps contain live frequently updated datasets.

Total woodland cover

Ancient woodland is any area that has been wooded continuously since at least 1600 AD. National Forest Inventory (NFI) woodland includes all forests and woodlands (0.5 hectares and over). The total woodland cover within the NCA is as follows (Natural England, Ancient Woodland, 2021; Forestry Commission, National Forest Inventory, 2020):

Distribution and size of woodland and trees in the landscape

Extensive areas of predominantly ancient semi-natural woodland are concentrated on the ridges, slopes and valley sides of the many rivers present throughout the area. Woodlands here are dominated by oak, ash and birch with extensive amounts of wych elm and wild gean, especially along the Ribble with alder and willow beside the Brock, Wyre and Calder. Areas of semi-natural woodland are commonly associated with managed estates and parkland. Several large blocks of conifer plantation are present, mainly in the south and north-west (Bowland Fringe & Pendle Hill Countryside Character Area description).

Woodland types

A statistical breakdown of the area and type of woodland found across the NCA is detailed below (Forestry Commission, National Forest Inventory, 2020):

Area and proportion of ancient woodland and planted ancient woodland sites (PAWS) within the NCA (Natural England, Ancient Woodland, 2021):


Trees and woodlands map for NCA33

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Boundary features and patterns

Note that numbers and figures in the body of the text are based on the 2014 profiles, unless otherwise stated.

Boundary features

Medium to small-scale fields are defined by hedgerows with mature hedgerow trees, growth of which is particularly vigorous in the north. Dry stone walls are also common in some areas. Metal railings around estate boundaries are characteristic of the southern and western edges of the NCA (Bowland Fringe & Pendle Hill Countryside Character Area description; Countryside Quality Counts, 2003).

Field patterns

Principally an area of intricate small-medium scale fields reflecting a long process of piecemeal colonisation and assortment. Ancient (pre 1600) enclosure has widespread survival, but is particularly concentrated to the south. Post medieval (1600-1850) enclosure patterns, similarly irregular, are the dominant field pattern in the area. Much of the higher common land and the lower fellsides especially to the west of the Bowland fells remained unenclosed until taken into large rectilinear grazing enclosures under Parliamentary Acts in the 18th and 19th centuries (English Heritage Historic Profiles; Countryside Character Area description; Countryside Quality Counts, 2003).

Agriculture section contains a map

Note that numbers and figures in the body of the text are based on the 2014 profiles, unless otherwise stated. The maps contain live frequently updated datasets.

The following tables provide the most recently available statistics from Defra on agriculture within the NCA.

Farm type

The following farm types are located within this NCA (Defra, Structure of the agricultural industry in England and the UK at June, 2016):

Farm size

The following table outlines the sizes of farms within the NCA (Defra, Structure of the agricultural industry in England and the UK at June, 2021):

Farm ownership

The following table outlines the ownership of farms within the NCA (Defra, Structure of the agricultural industry in England and the UK at June, 2016):

Land use

The following table outlines the types of agricultural land use within the NCA (Defra, Structure of the agricultural industry in England and the UK at June, 2016):

Livestock numbers

The following livestock are farmed within the NCA (Defra, Structure of the agricultural industry in England and the UK at June, 2021):

Farm labour

The following table outlines the types of farm labour within the NCA (Defra, Structure of the agricultural industry in England and the UK at June, 2021):

Please note: (i) Some of the Census data are estimated by Defra so may not present a precise assessment of agriculture within this area (ii) Data refers to commercial holdings only (iii) Data includes land outside of the NCA where it belongs to holdings whose centre point is recorded as being within the NCA.



Note that the below map only shows agri-environment scheme coverage, and not other schemes.

Agriculture map for NCA33

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Key habitats and species section contains a map

Note that numbers and figures in the body of the text are based on the 2014 profiles, unless otherwise stated. The maps contain live frequently updated datasets.

Habitat distribution/coverage

Small to medium sized hay meadows and permanent pasture fields are defined by stone walls immediately adjacent to the Bowland Fells, which become hedgerows within valley bottoms and areas around settlements. Mature oak, ash and alder trees are common components of hedgerows. The species rich hay meadows with pignut, yellow rattle, great burnet, ox-eye daisy and lady’s mantle provide a splash of colour during the summer and attract large numbers of butterflies. At higher elevations the improved pastures give way to areas of rough grazing and field patterns become more regular, with stone walls predominating. Here, wet rushy pastures are of particular importance for breeding waders such as lapwing, snipe, curlew, redshank and oystercatcher. Extensive areas of predominantly ancient semi-natural woodland are concentrated on the ridges, slopes and valley sides of the many rivers present throughout the area. Woodlands here are dominated by oak, ash and birch with extensive amounts of wych elm and wild gean, especially along the Ribble, with alder and willow beside the Brock, Wyre and Calder. The woodlands on the northernmost side of the Fells are particularly important for their rich assemblage of mosses and lichens. Pied and spotted flycatchers, redstart, tree pipit, tawny owl, great spotted woodpecker and sparrow hawk are all characteristic bird species associated with these woodlands.

Numerous rivers and watercourses provide habitats for salmon, brown and sea trout, as well as birds such as kingfisher, dipper, grey wagtail, common sandpiper and oystercatcher. Otters are also present along rivers on the northern side of the Fells. The rivers make a significant contribution to the area together with the Lancaster Canal which supports an interesting array of locally rare aquatic plants such as flowering rush, greater spearwort, white water lily and various pond weeds.

A number of reservoirs and disused gravel pits along the Wyre valley are also important as habitat for breeding great crested grebe and wintering wildfowl, while the high density of field ponds between Preston and Garstang provide an important habitat for aquatic plants, freshwater invertebrates and amphibians. Formal parkland surrounding modest country houses adds to the intensely managed character of the area. Typically consisting of open grassland with ponds and lakes, scattered trees of oak, ash, sycamore and lime, enclosed by blocks of secondary woodland, the parklands are particularly important for their dead wood invertebrates, mosses and lichens. Several heronries are also present (Bowland Fringe & Pendle Hill Countryside Agency Summary Statements; Forest of Bowland Natural Area Profile).

Key Habitats

The NCA contains the following areas of key main habitats, as mapped by the national Priority Habitat Inventory (Natural England, Priority Habitats Inventory, 2021):






Key habitats and species map for NCA33

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Settlement and development patterns section contains a map

Note that numbers and figures in the body of the text are based on the 2014 profiles, unless otherwise stated. The maps contain live frequently updated datasets.

Settlement patterns

The settlement pattern is of small villages with isolated houses and farms dotted around the winding country lanes. Many of the smaller villages and hamlets are linear in character and commonly take the form of terraced stone cottages along the main road (Countryside Character Area description, Countryside Quality Counts, 2003).

Main settlements

There are many villages dating from the 16th to 18th century, together with hamlets, farmsteads and also country houses and halls set in parkland. The largest settlements within the NCA are: Clitheroe, Longridge, Bentham, Whalley, Caton, Grimsargh and Goosnargh. There are also many small villages and hamlets with populations of <1,000. The total estimated population for this NCA (derived from ONS 2001 census data) is: 55,281 (Countryside Character Area description; Countryside Quality Counts, 2003; Natural England, 2012).

Local vernacular and building materials

Isolated stone villages tend to be nestled into the escarpments and are commonly characterised by distinctive becks, greens and mills each with its own unique charm. On higher ground traditional stone barns are commonplace. The predominant building materials are stone and roofs are made of slate or, less commonly, stone flags. There has been some, limited, expansion of villages but this has been done sympathetically using local materials (Countryside Character Area description, Countryside Quality Counts, 2003).

Settlement and development patterns map for NCA33

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Key historic sites and features section contains a map

Note that numbers and figures in the body of the text are based on the 2014 profiles, unless otherwise stated. The maps contain live frequently updated datasets.

Origin of historic features

The history of the landscape is evident in the long history of piecemeal colonisation reflected in the intricate small-medium scale fields with widespread post medieval and ancient fields, particularly around Preston, and larger rectilinear Parliamentary enclosures. There are many archaeological sites particularly on the moorland fringes and in valleys where agriculture has been less intensive as well as corridors such as the Ribble and Lune valleys which were important routes since the Roman period, the latter with small motte and bailey castles. A small number of industrial terraced settlements, for example Oakenclough, Dolphinholme and Galgate, are characteristic of the Calder Vale while lead mining remains and derelict lime kilns are found in the Ribble Valley. Aspects of history likely to be most evident to the general public include, Stonyhurst College, Gledstone Hall, Clitheroe Castle, large country houses set in their own parkland, such as Abbeysted, Ellel Grange, Waddow Hall, Bolton Park and Leagram Hall and smaller landscape features such as stone bridges (Countryside Quality Counts Draft Historic Profile, Countryside Character Area description).

Designated historic assets

The NCA includes the following designated historic assets (Historic England, National Heritage List for England, 2021):

Listed buildings

The NCA includes the following listed buildings (Historic England, National Heritage List for England, 2021):

Heritage at Risk Register

The NCA includes the following designated historic assets listed within the Heritage at Risk Register (Historic England, Heritage at Risk Register, 2023):



Key historic sites and features map for NCA33

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Recreation and access section contains a map

Note that numbers and figures in the body of the text are based on the 2014 profiles, unless otherwise stated. The maps contain live frequently updated datasets.

Public access

The following areas of public access for recreation are located within this NCA (Natural England, 2021; National Trust, 2021):


Please note: Public access areas may overlap.

The following linear routes or public access for recreation are located within this NCA (Natural England, 2021; Sustrans; 2021):

Recreation and access map for NCA33

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Experiential qualities

Note that numbers and figures in the body of the text are based on the 2014 profiles, unless otherwise stated.

Tranquillity

Based on the CPRE map of tranquillity (2006) the lowest scores are around the main settlements and road routes.

A breakdown of tranquillity values for this NCA are detailed in the table below (CPRE, Tranquillity Map, 2006):

Dark skies

Light pollution is a generic term referring to artificial light that shines where it is neither wanted nor needed, and can impact on people’s experience of the countryside within the NCAs. CPRE host an interactive map, depicting the light pollution and dark skies within the NCA.

Intrusion

The 2007 Intrusion Map (CPRE) shows the extent to which rural landscapes are ‘intruded on’ from urban development, noise (primarily traffic noise), and other sources of visual and auditory intrusion. This shows that large areas of the NCA are considered ‘disturbed’ with major transport corridors and urban development occurring throughout the NCA. A breakdown of intrusion values for this NCA are detailed in the table below.

A breakdown of intrusion values for this NCA is detailed in the table below (CPRE, Intrusion Map, 2007):

Notable trends from the 1960s to 2007 are an increase in intrusion particularly along the M6 corridor and around Longridge, Clitheroe and the A59.