The Trough of Bowland Walk is an exceptional circular route in the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in Lancashire. Also known as the Trough of Bowland Circular Walk, the trail explores the beautiful valley known as the Trough of Bowland. Starting at Dunsop Bridge, you’ll initially walk along Trough Road, which leads through the immense valley. You’ll then pass through lovely moorland and wooded areas, before returning to Dunsop Bridge via the quaint Dunsop River.
In this guide, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about the Trough of Bowland Walk. We’ll also cover details about the Trough of Bowland itself and talk about other things to do in the area. This will include information about driving and cycling on Trough Road and also where to stay and where to eat. We’ll also discuss other great nearby trails in the Forest of Bowland, focussing on Dunsop Bridge walk options.
Anyway, before you read this guide, feel free to watch our Forest of Bowland hiking video (coming soon). For your convenience, when you press play below, it’ll start at the section showing the Trough of Bowland Walk.
We hope you find this guide helpful. For other great walks in the Forest of Bowland (AKA Bowland Forest walks), read our guides on the Stocks Reservoir and Gisburn Forest, Parlick Fell Circular Walk and Pendle Hill walking routes.
Trough of Bowland Walk Overview
The Trough of Bowland Walk is one of the best walks in the Forest of Bowland AONB. By walking this circular route, you’ll catch magnificent views of the Trough of Bowland. Truly, walking through the Trough of Bowland is a wonderful way to experience the breathtaking valley. Of course, driving and cycling the scenic route (Trough Road) are other popular ways to visit and enjoy the valley. But, walking is a superb option to really soak in the landscape and surroundings.
Once described as ‘the Switzerland of England‘, the Trough of Bowland is a stunning valley and high pass featuring lovely countryside. Certainly, the Trough of Bowland is an underrated natural attraction in the UK. For more information about the Trough of Bowland itself, please head to the FAQs. In that section, we’ll answer questions about the valley’s distance, exact location, start and end points, etc. Directly below, we’ve provided a map of the Trough of Bowland. Afterwards, we’ll talk specifically about the Trough of Bowland Walk.
Map of Trough of Bowland
FYI – there isn’t a Trough of Bowland post code per se, as it’s a long stretching valley. Although, according to Google Maps, the post code listed for the Trough of Bowland is BB7 3BJ.
Map of Trough of Bowland Walk and Route Details
- Type: Circular Route
- Distance: 13.4km
- Time: 3–4 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 365m
- Difficulty: Easy
- Trailhead: Dunsop Bridge
Trough of Bowland Walk Trail Description
In the Trough of Bowland route description below, we’re going to talk about the highlights of the walk. Your walking adventure begins at Dunsop Bridge.
Starting the walk at Dunsop Bridge, you’ll head west, crossing over a bridge, which takes you over Dunsop River. At the end of the road, you’ll turn right to follow Trough Road. Yes, you’ll be walking along the road for around 4.3km, so take care with passing traffic. The road follows the peaceful Langden Brook, passing Haredon Farm (also spelt Hareden) around the 2km mark. Views of the Trough of Bowland really start to emerge the further north you walk.
The Trough of Bowland
Walking along Trough Road reveals exquisite views of the tremendous valley. Indeed, to see all of the incredible Trough of Bowland, we recommend driving or cycling the entire Trough Road after the walk. But, the advantage of walking is that you’ll enjoy unique viewpoints of the valley. At around 4.6km, you’ll turn right, leaving Trough Road. You’ll begin a steep ascent through woodland and moorland towards Calder Moor. From this elevation gain, to the right of Trough Road, which pierces through the valley, you’ll enjoy amazing views of the Trough of Bowland.
Before reaching Calder Moor, you’ll steer left, heading north, passing Whin Fell to your right. Along the way, you’ll pass absolutely gorgeous Lancashire countryside.
Eventually, you’ll reach Brennand Farm, turning right and southwards onto a country lane leading back to Dunsop Bridge. Initially, after just passing Brennand Farm, you’ll pass Middle Knoll to your left. Along the country lane, you’ll walk by the serene Dunsop River, which guides you all the way back to Dunsop Bridge. Personally, Beck and I listened to the lovely rhythmic flow of the river stream as we enjoyed speed hiking our way back to Dunsop Bridge.
What’s speed hiking? It’s a great way to improve your hiking fitness and endurance. Find out more about it here.
How to Get There (Trough of Bowland Directions)
The simplest and quickest way to get to Dunsop Bridge for the Trough of Bowland Walk is to drive there yourself. There isn’t a Trough of Bowland Car Park per se. Basically, you’ll park at the Dunsop Bridge Car Park (paid parking). Otherwise, there’s limited free street parking in the small village of Dunsop Bridge. Alternatively, there are a couple of places to park along Trough Road, facing opposite Langden Brook. But, spots are limited.
If you don’t have your own set of wheels, we recommend hiring a car using Rentalcars.com. You’ll find a wide variety of cars on Rental Cars for good prices. The website is user-friendly and booking online is really easy.
It’s possible to get to Dunsop Bridge using public transport, but it’s not a viable option for doing the Trough of Bowland Walk. That’s because there is only one bus (510) going to Dunsop Bridge from Clitheroe mid-afternoon around 2:25pm. Also, there’s only one bus departing Dunsop Bridge to Clitheroe, which leaves early in the morning at around 7:43am. In addition, this timetable only operates Monday to Friday.
As you can see, it isn’t impossible to get to Dunsop Bridge for the Trough of Bowland Walk using public transport. But, using public transport simply won’t work for a day hike trip plan. Besides, you’ll need to get to Clitheroe in the first place. Depending on your starting point in the UK, this could be a bit of a journey in itself if you’re using public transport. For more information, here’s the 510 bus timetable.
Trough of Bowland Hotels
In terms of Trough of Bowland hotels, you’ll be hard-pressed to find accommodation options along the valley itself. There are only a couple of cottages in Dunsop Bridge. These include Wood End Farm and Root Farm Cottage.
Instead, we’d recommend staying in nearby Slaidburn, where there are more highly-rated accommodation options. In particular, we’ve heard great things about Clerk Laithe Lodge and Laythams Holiday Lets Retreat. Both of these options get excellent reviews. By staying in either of these accommodations in Slaiburn, you’re only a 10-minute drive away from Dunsop Bridge.
More Information and Ideas About Things to Do in the Area
Below, you’ll find other great ideas for activities to do around the Trough of Bowland and Dunsop Bridge.
Other Trough of Bowland Walks
If you’re looking for other walks around the Trough of Bowland, there are plenty to choose from. Similar to the walk described in this guide, many other walks exploring this valley, start and end in Dunsop Bridge. Let’s look at these Dunsop Bridge walks below.
Dunsop Bridge Walks
Certainly, when it comes to circular walks in the Trough of Bowland, we believe the walk described in this guide is easily the best. But, for other circular walks that explore this magnificent valley, consider the Hodder Bank Fell Circular or Langden and Haredon walking routes. Both of these walks start in or near Dunsop Bridge. Admittedly, there are a bunch of different circular walk options that you can find online, which start and end in Dunsop Bridge.
If you’re interested in easier river walks in the Trough of Bowland, we recommend the River Dunsop and Black Brook Circular and the Dunsop Bridge Easy Access Route. Again, both of these walks start and end in Dunsop Bridge. Indeed, all of the trails mentioned in this section are the best walks in the Trough of Bowland.
Trough of Bowland Drive and Cycling (Trough Road)
As mentioned, we believe walking through the immense valley is the best way to experience the beautiful Trough of Bowland. But, of course, you won’t get to see the entire valley that way. To see the entire Trough of Bowland, we recommend driving or cycling along Trough Road from Dunsop Bridge to Marshaw. Indeed, Trough Road pierces through the heart of the valley, offering breathtaking views. Expect a stellar scenic drive or cycle by following Trough Road. Certainly, when it comes to Bowland cycling options, Trough Road has to be the best cycling route in the area.
Trough of Bowland Pubs and Cafes
Similar to accommodation, there aren’t any Trough of Bowland pubs as such. This isn’t surprising, given how relatively rural the valley is. The closest pub to this valley is The Inn at Whitewell, in Whitewell, which beautifully sits on River Hodder. Personally, I visited The Inn at Whitewell with Beck and my parents when they were visiting from Australia. We enjoyed a great meal there. Similarly, you won’t find much in the way of cafes along the valley on Trough Road. Thankfully, there are some cafes in Dunsop Bridge.
Dunsop Bridge Cafes
Dunsop Bridge Pubs
Unfortunately, there are no pubs in Dunsop Bridge. Your best bet is to go to The Inn at Whitewell, which is just a 10 minute drive down the road.
Below, you’ll find the most frequently asked questions about the Trough of Bowland.
What Is the Trough of Bowland?
It’s a valley and high pass in the Forest of Bowland AONB.
Where Is the Trough of Bowland?
It’s located in the Forest of Bowland AONB in Lancashire in the northwest of England.
How Long Is the Trough of Bowland?
It’s 54.7km (34 miles) long.
Where Does the Trough of Bowland Start and Finish?
The valley runs between Dunsop Bridge and Marshaw near Abbeystead.
Who Owns the Trough of Bowland?
It’s in the Duchy’s ownership (the Royal Family).
Is Dog Walking Allowed?
When it comes to Trough of Bowland walks with dogs, you’ll be happy to hear (especially if you have a pooch), that the Forest of Bowland is a dog-friendly area. Although, keep in mind that many walks around the valley pass areas of livestock. So, you’ll certainly need to keep your dog on a lead.
These are our five hiking gear essentials for this walk.
Why do you need this?
See it in action
These hiking boots are very comfy and a good choice for exploring the Forest of Bowland, except during winter when it gets quite boggy. In that case, you'll want winter boots
This camera is easily the best compact digital camera on the market. Lightweight, compact and durable, the Sony Cybershot RX100 VII takes high quality photos and 4K videos
Always pack a waterproof jacket when hiking in the UK, for obvious reasons...
This is an awesome backpack for day hikes. It has plenty of space to store everything you'll need
A GoPro Hero is the best action camera
Make sure to also pack water, snacks, sunscreen and a hat! For a longer hiking gear list, check out our 66 Travel Items You Must Travel With. For a general list of everything else you’d need for travelling, read our Packing Checklist.
- An alternate map option: here’s another map of the Trough of Bowland Walk – Ordnance Survey.
- Forest of Bowland long distance walks: this area isn’t renowned for long distance walks. But, if you’re hellbent on doing a long distance walk in the Forest of Bowland, your best option is the approx. 65km Pendle Way. Although, it’s not entirely set in the Forest of Bowland.
- Other things to do in the Forest of Bowland: visit the Bowland Wild Boar Park or the charming village of Hurst Green.
- Explore other national parks in the north of England: don’t just stop at the Forest of Bowland. Make sure to also check out the Lake District, Peak District, Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors.
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