The competition was also designed to highlight the many leisure opportunities the AONB offers, with the aim of showcasing Bowland at its best in every season.
The Bowland Through the Seasons photograph contest launched in October and a shortlist of 10 finalists was drawn up by the AONB with the public invited to vote online for their favourites.
The winner Mark Harder, a newcomer to wildlife photography, gained the top prize with his photo entitled "Short Eared Owl", second prize winner Paul Warrilow impressed with his photo of "Wintry Pendle" and third prize winner Naomi Barnes' photo "I Think We're Being Followed" caught local livestock on camera.
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Hetty Byrne, Bowland AONB's Sustainable Tourism Officer, said: "We were delighted to receive so many entries to the competition which really showcase the seasonal highlights of Bowland – from the wildlife, to the wild open spaces and the dramatic sunsets and sunrises with changing seasonal colours. People can continue to submit images year-round via the website and we will feature these via social media and on the homepage; Look out also for the prize-winning images in our Discover Bowland 2022 guide which will be available in the spring."
Mark's prize was two nights at Laythams Holiday Lets Retreats, Paul won a £100.00 Individual Inns voucher, donated by the Spread Eagle Inn and Naomi's prize was a bottle of Wild Fox farm-to-bottle signature gin. Prizes were all donated by businesses in the Forest of Bowland Sustainable Tourism Network.
Mark said: "I’ve only recently taken up wildlife photography and I’m naturally drawn to this beautiful countryside which I find inspirational and good for the soul. With the recent lockdown I had found the Forest of Bowland a source of therapy and taking photos of wildlife a way to expressing my artistic side."
Runner-up Paul said: "I really enjoy landscape photography and I am fortunate to be living in such a beautiful area as the Forest of Bowland. The varied landscapes in this area offer some wonderful opportunities to capture nature at her very best and, having recently retired ,I have much more time on my hands to discover the area and take more images."
He continued: "I found out about the competition whilst browsing the Forest of Bowland website - I was looking for ideas as to where I might go to photograph some of its spectacular countryside. A week or so later we had snowfall on the lovely Pendle Hill and so I went along at dawn to take the image that was entered for the competition."
Seven runners-up received prizes too: Hannah Binns – a virtual cheese tasting voucher, donated by the Courtyard Dairy; David Fish – a Goosnargh Gin gift pack, donated by Goosnargh Gin; Duncan Singleton – a seasonal giftbox, donated by the Rewilding at Patty's Barn; Dave Spellman – afternoon tea for two, donated by Stirk House Hotel; Phillipe Hanford – a £30 voucher for Gisburn Forest Hub, donated by Gisburn Forest Hub Café; Jane Ashall – a Milking Parlour cheese, butter and biscuit hamper, donated by Cobden View Holiday Cottage, Sabden and Janice McCall – a hand knitted scarf and hat, donated by Lancashire Farm Wools.
All the prize-winning images can be seen here or at viewed at: www.forestofbowland.com/photo-competition-winners-2021
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