Our beautiful Bowland

THE beauty of Bowland has made such a lasting impression on two Lancashire residents that they have brought it to book.
Gisburn Forest from Lamb Hill - a scene photographed by Helen Shaw and featured in new book  The Forest of BowlandGisburn Forest from Lamb Hill - a scene photographed by Helen Shaw and featured in new book  The Forest of Bowland
Gisburn Forest from Lamb Hill - a scene photographed by Helen Shaw and featured in new book The Forest of Bowland

Although both moved away with work, they each were drawn back to their North-West roots.

Now they have celebrated the local landscape in a special publication.

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Their book, The Forest of Bowland, takes a look at what author Andrew Stachulski describes as “just wonderful country.”

The academic, who was brought up in Great Harwood, near Whalley, said: “It’s a project that’s been a long standing interest of mine, from walking and visiting the Forest of Bowland for a long, long time.”

About a decade ago, he published a book of North West walks and had decided it was time he wrote more about the area.

The former Accrington Grammar School pupil, now a research fellow in organic and medicinal chemistry at the University of Liverpool, came back to the north in the 1990s.

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Home is once again Great Harwood and from here he ventures out to explore his favourite Bowland and other local countryside describing it as “a constant source of inspiration.”

He says the book’s “sumptuous” illustrations by Helen Shaw owe their origins to seeing Helen’s photographs exhibited in a store in Clitheroe and inviting her to work on the project.

For Helen, it was the perfect showcase for her continuing work documenting the area.

Living in the Slaidburn area, she already had plenty of local images. Over the next 18 months, she added to the collection to help create the book.

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Helen, a former pupil of Clitheroe Grammar School, said: “I’ve been a photographer really all my life. I’ve only been professional for the past 12 years.

“I was a human resources manager for 25 years before I decided to pursue my love, really.

“It’s just self taught. It’s the creative side of it.

“I see something and I just have to make a copy of it, I have to reproduce it.

“It gives me big satisfaction to do that and to share it with people.”

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Having been born just outside Padiham, Helen was well acquainted with the Pendle part of Bowland. After living in the south for two decades, she wanted to get back to home ground, especially as her parents were getting older: ”I always wanted to come back to the North – there’s nowhere like it. The people are so welcoming and it’s where I feel I belong.”

She first bought a house in Newchurch, Pendle, but desired somewhere even more remote: “I basically went further out into the fells. Bowland is a very, very special place.

“It’s not like the Lakes or Dales where you get loads of people on a summer afternoon. Some parts of Bowland are really hidden.

“For me it’s a little like there’s a sanctuary. When I come home, having been out in the world, there’s a space and quietness descends.

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“I hope the book will do justice to a very beautiful part of England that’s largely ignored – even many northerners know very little about it.”

She and husband Bob are now at work on a book about walking from Land’s End to John O’Groats.

A second book is planned looking at the Pennines as far as Hadrian’s Wall.

Andrew also has plans to write another book.

The Forest of Bowland by Andrew Stachulski and Helen Shaw is published by Merlin Unwin books at £14.99 and is available from bookshops and the Platform Gallery, Clitheroe. Chapters range from The high places, roads and estates of Bowland to its people, Pendle and local walks.

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