The Forest of Bowland is a hidden natural treasure in the heart of rural North Yorkshire and Lancashire, consisting of 300 square miles of pristine uplands in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. A weekend spent off the beaten track in Bowland promises to refresh and reconnect visitors with a richly diverse natural landscape.
Disclaimer - it’s a forest in the historic, royal sense; more of a wild, ancient hunting preserve than a wooded area. That’s not to say it’s not wild, with rocky outcrops, secluded dells and vast swathes of heather moorland, home to all sorts of wildlife, including several endangered native bird species.
Hundreds of years of human influence speak to the harmonious stewardship of the area’s hill farmers, who’ve had a hand in producing its heather moorland and ecologically crucial blanket bog. They’ve maintained the dry-stone walls, wildflower meadows, country lanes and barns that are quintessential to Bowland. Today, traditional rural skills are still important locally, such as hedge-laying and dry-stone walling along with weaving, basket-making and furniture making.
Nonetheless, villages and settlements are dotted remotely around the landscape, and commercial activity is still minimal. Mobile phone coverage is patchy, and the lonely moorlands provide plenty of headspace for those walking on quiet lanes, taking in the views across the Yorkshire Dales and Morecambe Bay. In other words, bring a friend on your trip to Bowland, or come prepared to immerse yourself in the solitude of the wild uplands.
Gisburn, Forest of Bowland
Campsites near the Forest of Bowland provide access to the relatively low numbers of tourists who seek solace in its winding tracks and open spaces. There are also increasing tourist offerings to be enjoyed in Bowland, and these offerings can be found on their events page, such as guided foraging and wild food forays, historical treks, family arts trails and immersive natural healing walks.
In this blog, we will reveal the best campsites in the Forest of Bowland for motorhomes, so that you can experience the vivid canvas of the Bowland fells firsthand.
Campsites in the Forest of Bowland
- The first of the Forest of Bowland campsites we’re visiting is the Brickhouse Camping and Caravanning Site. It’s in the heart of Chipping village, which itself is a quaint little conservation area in the larger AONB. Its stone-built cottages, 13th century church and ancient font are worth exploring, as well as its historical industries which are still running; the cheese maker, chair factory, craft centre, and the oldest continuously trading shop in the villages’ Post Office. A farm shop in the village offers a large selection of local, quality produce from farms and businesses in the area. The site offers a modest 34 immaculately manicured, level grass and hardstanding pitches. Other facilities include the shower and toilet block with under floor heating, wash basins, shaving points and hair dryers (at a £0.20 charge). There’s a separate, disability accessible toilet, a local information cabin, laundry facilities and a dog washing area, too.
Hard standing pitches are £25 per night. Electric hook up is available.
Brickhouse Touring Caravan Site, Swinglehurst Lane, Chipping, Preston Lancashire PR3 2QW
- For a larger campsite with more facilities, potentially better suited to a family trip, head to Moss Wood Caravan Park. It’s a 5* holiday park an easy drive from the cities of Lancaster, Preston and Blackpool. The facilities have earnt it’s high rating and glowing reviews, as there’s a clean amenities block with showers and toilets with disabled access and baby change facilities. They have electric shavers and hair dryers, too, a laundrette, waste disposal points, a reception with a shop, a fishing lake, children’s play area, woodland walk and picnic field. This is one of the Forest of Bowland campsites particularly well-suited for families, as they also have created a range of outdoor activities and wildlife experiences to compliment the park’s surroundings.
The touring pitches are level and sheltered, and they offer a full complement of services including electricity and WiFi.
Pitches in the low season cost £25.50 per night, and £30 in the high and peak seasons.
Moss Wood Caravan Park, Crimbles Lane, Cockerham, LA2 0ES
- One of the more alternative campsites in the Forest of Bowland is the Gathering Fields, a nature-based wellbeing and eco-retreat centre, and wildflower conservation project. Here, a holistic approach is taken to environmental education and there are many immersive offerings which campers can partake in, such as pottery, meditation, wool crafts, yoga and group sound healing or guided foraging and nature walks.
Their healthy wildflower meadows and magical woodlands make a particularly serene setting as far as campsites in the Forest of Bowland go, as you can pitch up in the paddock next to their fire pit area. Facilities for campers include access to toilets and shower facilities, but there is no electric hook up.
Camping is £25 per pitch per night.
Swainshead Hall Farm, Over Wyresdale, Nr Lancaster, Lancashire, LA2 9DN
Dry-stone walls iconic of Yorkshire’s rural heritage.
- There are more great campsites near the Forest of Bowland, too. Orcaber Caravan and Camping site in particular is a peaceful, family-run site which offers walkers unrivalled access to forest, as well as the routes that run through and around the Three Peaks area of the Yorkshire Dales National park (which you can find out more about here, or simply grab a map from the site information office upon arrival). The scenery is bucolic and peaceful, with horses and sheep grazing nearby.
Like most Forest of Bowland campsites, dogs are welcome at Orcaber (on leads), and there is an allocated dog walking area. There are large, flat, well-drained pitches and separate ladies and mens’ shower blocks which have plenty of hot water (at a £0.50 charge), a freezer with ice packs, and the aforementioned information room with details of local attractions.
Grass tent and trailer pitches are £18 per night and it’s an extra £3 for a pitch with electric hook up.
Orcaber Farm, Austwick, Settle, North Yorkshire, England LA2 8AE
Wild Camping in the Forest of Bowland
In the Forest of Bowland, wild camping is not permitted in the sense of pitching up wherever you wish on the land. Nonetheless, it is possible to have a wilder experience of camping than you might expect from motorhome-friendly, registered campsites.
Option one, there is a certain area of Bowland which is sometimes open for wild campers, and you can find out more about it on a Facebook group (though this is currently closed due to Covid-19).
Option two, if you want to experience the Forest of Bowland by wild camping there, pitch up at Pendle Prospects Wild Camping. It’s a basic site, sitting on the edge of Trawden village, looking up at Pendle Hill. It’s light on facilities (aside from a portaloo), so you’re in for a wildish experience amongst the trees, rugged stone walls and empty fields of the Yorkshire-Lancashire borderlands. It’s an ideal place to set off on some (or tackle all!) of the 45-mile Pendle Way. There are some sweet villages at walking distance for the amenities that you do need, such as Trawden which has a community shop, independent cafe and pub just a 10-minute walk down the hill from the campsite. Supermarkets are to be found in Colne, a 10-minute drive away, where you can pick up supplies for a campfire under the silhouette of the mighty hill.
Non-electric, hard-standing motorhome pitches are £20 per night for up to 5 people
Keighley Road, Trawden, Lancashire, England, BB8 8RS
Whether you head to one of these campsites in the Forest of Bowland as a long-awaited getaway, or you’re stopping off on a longer drive up to the Lake District or Scotland, you’re in for a unique experience and completely newfound love of these unspoilt uplands. You’ll be in the company of other hikers and cyclists who visit all year round, but that’s not to say there are many. It’s still quiet and largely untouched by other tourists, which makes it the perfect destination for a trip in one of our motorhomes.
Don't forget to check out our complete campervan packing list!