Forest of Bowland AONBConnecting People and Nature in the Forest of Bowland

Built on the success of the outdoor learning and wellbeing work we have achieved through the Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership, the Forest of Bowland AONB and The Ernest Cook Trust are continuing their partnership, The Ernest Cook Trustand thanks to the National Lottery Heritage Fund are delighted to introduce their new Connecting People and Nature project, which will start in Spring 2023.

Every person should know the feeling of being utterly captivated and intrigued by nature, but this isn't always the case; many people feel nature's not for them, or not accessible.  Our 3-year project will encourage more people to discover that nature is for everyone, and inspire them to feel happier and healthier, and foster a lifelong connection with nature. It will do this by providing accessible and supported outdoor wellbeing sessions at locations across the AONB. We will also provide Community Leader courses to enable people to run their own sessions. In addition, the project will engage with children at 24 schools, inspiring them to embed outdoor learning in their curriculum and to utilise local greenspaces as well as safe locations around the AONB.

Heritage Lottery FundActivities will be delivered by a Community Engagement Officer, our Outdoor Learning Officer, and an Outdoor Learning Trainee. We will be recruiting the community officer and trainee early in 2023, so watch this space for more information and how to apply.

Activities will be free to attend, with free transport offered. They will be open to people experiencing social isolation, loneliness, or poor mental health; and sessions will be run for children, families and young people. We will focus on Walking through Downhamcommunities from Morecambe, Lancaster, Garstang, Preston, Burnley, Clitheroe, Nelson and Colne.

Our project will connect with our natural heritage: activities will enable people to connect and care for everyday nature; wildflowers, butterflies, trees and birds. It will connect people to each other, their local natural spaces and to high value natural spaces in the AONB. The project has three strands.

Community engagement: activity sessions will take place throughout the year.  Activities will be nature based and include guided walks, drawing, painting, crafts, mindfulness, foraging, nature identification, and practical conservation tasks such as drystone walling.  Activities will be held in well serviced nature spaces such as Keasden Head Farm, Green Close Studios, Gathering Fields, Beacon Fell, Spring Wood and Downham Estate in the AONB.

Outdoor LearningOutdoor Learning: A bespoke package of support will be developed for 24 schools in under served areas to meet each school's needs. It is likely to be a combination of on-site work, finding ways to take more of the curriculum outdoors, developing outdoor space, training for teachers and off-site visits to local green spaces and into the AONB.  Several schools will be targeted in an area, building links and peer support between them.

Outdoor sessions will also be held in local nature spaces for children and families within the community area of the schools, and outdoor activities for young people will be held during school holidays. A trainee role will upskill a person to develop a career in the outdoor learning sector.

Community Leaders: A multiday training course will help people to develop skills and confidence to lead/engage people in their communities, plan and organise activities, increase understanding of opportunities for people to get outdoors and connect with nature. Once upskilled, they will be supported to arrange and run activities during the life of the project.

For further information please contact Cathy Hopley:

The new project page is being developed on the Forest of Bowland main website.  For further information visit: