Waterside glamping in Gisburn Forest

Lancashire’s biggest forest has some of the Bowland Fells’ most varied outdoor action—and camping.

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Waterside glamping in Gisburn Forest guide

Overview

Lancashire’s largest belt of forest hugs the Forest of Bowland’s eastern periphery and offers outdoorsy types some of the region’s greatest variety of activities. The lively Forest Hub is a nexus for hiking and mountain biking trails—plus it sports a cafe and a pop-up camping and glamping site during summer. The forest also abuts Stocks Reservoir, with more walking trails, fishing, and access onto the AONB’s wild moors. The long-distance Ribble Valley Jubilee Trail connects the forest to the Ribble Valley, which mainly lies to the south. Campers will have the best luck booking a campsite along the forest’s southern boundary.

Where to go

Gisburn Forest Hub

This impressive complex of buildings is the centre of the action in Gisburn thanks to its visitor information, car park, toilets, café, crafts producer, and trailheads for mountain biking and walking. Handily for campers, a pop-up camping and glamping site opens in the meadow here during June, July, and August. And the fun doesn’t end at sundown—the Forest Hub is also a Dark Sky Discovery Site.

Stocks Reservoir

Gisburn Forest’s western edge spreads along the Stocks Reservoir’s shores. Walking-wise, the eastern shore is easiest for strolls, although you can walk all around the reservoir if you are prepared to deviate away from the water’s edge on the north and west sides. There is parking and a picnic area on the lane along the east shore, and you can fly-fish here too. Camp at the Forest Hub (summer only), or at campsites on the forest’s southern limits.

Tosside

The name of the little village of Tosside translates from the Anglo-Saxon as ‘fox pasture’—belying, like many place names in the Forest of Bowland, the former importance of hunting here. Straddling the border between Lancashire and North Yorkshire, it is the closest village to the forest (the Forest Hub is three miles away). Outdoor enthusiasts visiting the region appreciate the village tearoom, the campsite just south, and Tosside’s access to the Ribble Valley Jubilee Trail, which passes through town.

Forest of Bowland AONB

In medieval times, a ‘forest’ could be any wild ground suitable for hunting big game—not necessarily just a tree-covered area. The Forest of Bowland is more the former: primarily lonely moors and fells laced with fine hikes soaring away west of Gisburn Forest. Gisburn Forest is well situated for pitching and venturing out to explore the central part of the AONB.

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