Crook of Lune, looking towards Hornby Castle. JMWTurner. 1816-18. Courtauld Inst.
The Crook of Lune – no this is not a historical crime story.
It is a bend in the river, a visual station of the C19th artistic elite, a rather whimsical painting by the celebrated J M W Turner and a popular visitor destination with a nearby carpark and picnic places.
It is a special place I’ve never really been to. I’ve walked past on several longer routes using the abandoned railway but without realising the significance and beauty of the place. Today I intended to do it justice.
Continuing this morning’s walk instead of returning to the car I pick up a path going down through the woods to follow the north bank of the Lune towards Halton. There is a large weir and on this bank is a small turbine house delivering community hydroelectric power. A digital screen gives a potted history of the area and the development of this new way of harnessing the Lune’s power. At times that can be overpowering and not long after it was operative the whole site was severely flooded, fortunately with no serious damage to the turbines. Incorporated into the building is a fish ladder with an automatic counting sensor. There are no signs today of the salmon for which the Lune is famous but this would be a good place to watch them swimming up water in the next few weeks. There is a long history of mills and forges on this site and there are still signs of early weirs and wharfs.
The mills developed further in the C19th, stretching down the Lune to Halton, but were eventually demolished in the 60s. Only one remained and has been developed as a community space. https://haltonmill.org.uk/about-the-mill/industrial-history/
Alongside on the site is a section of interesting looking community housing. https://cohousing.org.uk/case-study/lancaster-cohousing/ – worth a read.
This brings me out on the line of the track of the Lancaster – Wennington railway, closed in 1966, at the renovated Halton Station platform. I join the cyclists and walkers heading back up the Lune. It was from the undergrowth near here that Sir Hugh and I emerged one day on our straight line route having traversed the private Quernmore Estate. Today it would have been easy today to miss the footpath leaving the railway to follow the bank of the Lune. Across the way I could see where I had been not long ago. Then my riverside path took me onto new ground as I started looping the Lune. I passed under the first railway viaduct and a great stretch of river followed before I started going around the Crook itself. Simply stunning. Apparently the view Turner painted was from further up the hill behind me.
I sat for a while in the memorial park watching the river flow by. And then I walked around the loop to the road bridge. This bridge, with its decorative balustrades, was designed by Paley, 1883, who normally did churches. I didn’t cross it but continued to the easterly railway bridge, identical to the westerly, where I picked up the cycleway to cross back to the carpark.