Bowland Explorers


Project Information


From 25 May 2015

Until 30 April 2016

Artists: Cath Ford; Shonagh Ingram; Jonathan McGrath; In-Situ; Kerris Casey St.Pierre; Rianon Francis; Ivan Liotchev; James Mather; Sophie Skellern; Stephie Jessop; Dani Gaines; Richard Tymon; Huckleberry Films; Steve Fairclough; Wild Rumpus

Twitter: @forestofbowland #bowlandexplorers

Blog: Read about what has happened so far on the Bowland Explorers Blog


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Bowland Explorers

Bowland Explorers is a programme of creative projects and artist-led expeditions, all designed to encourage a wider public to discover more of the magic of the very special Forest of Bowland.  Explorers is a part of Bowland Revealed, marking the fiftieth anniversary of the Forest of Bowland as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).  The programme is supported by Arts Council England and Lancashire County Council, and managed on behalf of the Bowland partners by Mid Pennine Arts. 

Read about what has happend so far in the Bowland Explorers Blog.

Latest News

Our Branch based in Hambleton will be visited by the Senior Explorers for the Hambleton Gala on 2 July.  As well as seeing the Forest in a Day built by the branch with the help of Lady Shonarella, you'll be able to meet Lady S and James the Boy Explorer at our trusty tent and join in the free activities.

We have also been invited to Whitworth to help set up a new branch of adventurers, the Spodden Valley Explorers, a very exciting prospect.  You can find us at the Whitworth Family Fun Day on 3 July, visit the tent for activities with Senior Explorer Chaotic Cath, and to sign up to this new Explorer group.

Bowland Explorers Film

Watch the film of our adventures here.

Bowland Field Report 2015-2016

Read the publication created by our newest Senior Explorer S. S. Sesil. 

A Very Special Meeting

Not lost, but exploring...

On Saturday 12 March 2016 we had the most amazing Very Special Meeting.  The Senior Explorers, helped by the fantastic Wild Rumpus and 240 Club Members, came together at Gisburn Forest on a quest to discover the whereabouts of our founder, the renowned, but somewhat eccentric, Gertrude Fulshaw-Smythe.  Read all about the day in our Field Report.  Let's just say our members -  did have the wits and fortitude to help solve the mystery!  See who joined us for this expedition by viewing the Roll of Honour.  You can also read the day's Field Report.

You can see photographs from the day here.  If you took photographs and would like to add them to the event Flickr group it is here.   Club Member Portraits taken by Chaotic Cath are available here.

The Bowland Explorers Club on Tour

Your mission: proceed with curiosity - do you have what it takes to be a member?


Our Expeditions:   We’ve been all over the place since spring 2015.  Back in May '15 Senior Explorer Cath Ford led a free drop in workshop at the Museum of Lancashire in Preston.  Then we set up camp for three days at the Cloudspotting Festival in July.  This was a family-friendly opportunity to discover a little of the magic of Bowland, and was open to intrepid tourists of all ages and abilities.  The Club’s distinctive livery, and lead explorer Gladstone (performance by Jonathan McGrath), brought at least 300 potential Club Members into contact with our Senior Explorers over the weekend.  Explorers of all ages shared their greatest adventures and helped us track down what lies at the end of the rainbow!  The mystic typewriter was kept active at all times helping fascinated youngsters record their explorations.  In August we were at the Burnley Canal Festival; in September the Blackburn Heritage Festival and in November the  Winter Art Fair at Lytham Hall.  Our last expedition of the year saw us pitching our tent (or at least trying to) in some very windy weather at Garstang Christmas Fair in December.  For 2016 our first expedition was to Brockholes Nature Reserve near Preston.  On a sunny day in February we had almost more would be explorers than we could cope with.  Over 225 people made journals, badges or both, and lots of visitors exclaimed at the marvellous museum exhibits and tested their wits on the coding puzzle.  A second visit to Brockholes at the end of March was equally as busy. On each expedition people have proven their worth as Explorers.  Some rather clever young people (and a few clever mature people too) did it by helping us unravel the coding conundrum puzzle to identify the places in Bowland where we should search for our missing founder, Gertrude Fulshaw Smythe.  Others by sharing stories of their best adventures and making special Explorer Badges and Explorer Journals.  We can’t wait to see what new adventures get recorded in those Journals.  We are delighted that we have been able to welcome so many worthy members into the Bowland Explorer Club.

You can read all about our expeditions in our BLOG.

Lady Shonarella, Gladstone, Senior (Chaotic) Explorer Cath, Senior Explorers Melanie and Nick, James the Boy Explorer (or Sherpa James depending on whether he has shaved or not), Sophie and Stephie - Girl Explorers Extraordinaire, and Calvin the Camera (the Club's official photographer) have had a wonderful time meeting hundreds of people eager to share the joy of exploring in Bowland.  We know that these new explorers will go on many an expedition of their own and will always proceed with curiousity!

The Tribes of Bowland

Steve Fairclough, writer, storyteller, theatre practitioner and film maker is, in the guise of Dr Ward 'Story' Stone, the 'literologist' and story collector, visiting places in and on the outskirts of Bowland, meeting with people, gathering stories and observing and documenting the ‘tribes’ of the AONB.  If you're in Bowland keep a watchful eye out for an individual in an outfit that rather resembles the fictional character 'Indiana Jones'! If you meet him he'd love to hear your stories of Bowland, and if you share one with him you'll be invited to a very special FREE Bowland Explorer Club event.  Read all about his travels in the blog.

Branches of the Bowland Explorers

Brierfield Branch - The Mums2Mums group (part of Brierfield Action in the Community) are working with artists from In-Situ for their explorations into Bowland.  The group have explored Downham, Clitheroe, Dunsop Bridge and Gisburn Forest documenting their experiences and have created materials to share their discoveries.  They also tested what ice-cream Bowland has to offer!  Read all about their adventures in the blog.

Burnley Branch - The Mechanics at Home group are working with artist Cath Ford.  They've just had their first outing and what a splendid time they had! They spent a day at Beacon Fell Country Park. Each explorer took an object of personal importance that was photographed in the forest and then they collected natural objects to photograph at home. Walking, picnicking, talking, getting lost, finding themselves, laughing, taking photos and drinking brews.  'Magical' was the word used! Since then they've been using their sessions to for art and craft based on their expedition.  The group can't wait to go back again.  Read all about their adventures in the blog.

Bolton Branch - We are very pleased to announce that artist Dani Gaines is working with the Explorers branch in Bolton, otherwise known as, Foxes of the Fold.  If you’ve visited us on tour you might have noticed the group's work, namely our beautiful luggage tag tent decorations.


Dani and the group worked on a secret installation for A Very Special Meeting.  In fact it was so secret that we were not able to show you any of the work in progress.  But all the participants on 12 March came face to face with the very unique, and a little bit scary, Tree People, as they made their way through Gisburn Forest.




There are just too many images to fit them all here.  Visit our Flickr album to see them all.