Tag Archives: Lune Valley.


Crook of Lune, looking towards Hornby Castle

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.https://i0.wp.com/www.ministry-of-information.co.uk/blog1/0602/images/180206-05.jpg?resize=550%2C413


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/https://i1.wp.com/haltonmill.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/mill-building-exterior.jpg?resize=499%2C374&ssl=1

Alongside on the site is a section of interesting looking community housing.  https://cohousing.org.uk/case-study/lancaster-cohousing/ – worth a read.

A stretch of modern housing units is walked through before I reach the old bridge taking me back across the Lune. This bridge has an unusual history…

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.

From the bridge I get a last view back up the Lune satisfied with today’s walk completing the loop around the ‘Crook’





This was the first half of a walk from the Crook Of Lune Car park. There was so much of interest that I’m posting in two halves.

Feeling generous, I paid a pound to park all day at ‘The Crook of Lune Car Park and Picnic Site’.

I’ve a walk planned up the Lune to Aughton and then back on higher ground. I have to give Sir Hugh credit for suggesting this route and I’m doing it while he is ‘hors de combat’.

The Autumnal mist is just lifting from the valley as I set off through green fields. A couple of dog walkers have beaten me to it. The river flows gently beside me,

I pass a weir and in some places there is a rushing of water round eddy pools.

Ahead is the bridge carrying the Thirlmere Aqueduct in giant pipes on its way to Manchester, unusually for waterboard bridges it also provides a foot crossing. Next I’m in an ancient forest; oaks, beeches, birches and ash. It once provided charcoal for iron smelting but is now a nature reserve managed by the Lancashire Wildlife Trust. The path does a roller coaster through the trees before depositing me on a green beach. There is a gulch ahead which I don’t fancy jumping. Sir Hugh had already said the large loop of the Lune here was boring, so I decide to go straight across the neck of the isthmus. That works OK although I don’t see much more of the river. Ingleborough is just coming out of the mist. Across the Lune is smoke from the Claughton brick factory  which I wrote about a few  weeks ago. As I’m keeping fairly local my walks all seem to be linking up with each other. I’m soon at the large agricultural barn marked on the map. More interesting is the cottage being upgraded a little further on before the steep hill up into Aughton. It  is  steep and brings me out at a miniature village green with a few cottages. The next steep stretch brings me to the higher part of the village where I go in search of the church marked on the map with the old school house next door. A bench in the sun is perfect for lunch. Walking up the minor lanes is a joy with Ingleborough behind, distant Lakes across the bay and closer at hand across the Lune are Caton Moor wind turbines with the Bowland Hills behind. I seem to be on a cycle route judging from the number of cyclists passing by, all with a cheery wave. A local dog walker passes the time of day and explains the different pronunciations of Aughton – orton. ayton, eighton. Take your choice.

The lane steepens heading back down towards the Lune. A herd of sheep are being brought up the road by sheep dogs, as soon as their job is done they can’t wait to jump on the back of the quad bike. The large house at Halton Park was a surprise. From here I can see the C18th cotton mill at Caton, originally powered by the Lune and later steam driven, now converted for residential use. The bridges on the Lune where my car is parked show up well, the surrounding trees taking on Autumn colours. Part two to follow.



I have lost my camera with this day’s photos on. When I say lost I mean I can’t find it but I’m certain it’s in the car or the house. After much searching it still hasn’t turned up. My mind’s not focused as it is the funeral of my best friend.

Yes, it has turned up under the carseat!

The day itself, a week ago, was brilliant.

As you drive through Claughton on the Kirkby Lonsdale road an aerial ropeway crosses above you carrying clay in buckets down from high on Caton Fell to the brickworks by the road. I’ve always been curious as to what’s at the top of the ropeway. The other end of the rainbow. Today I intended to find out and dragged Sir Hugh along for company.

We parked at The Fenwick Arms, sadly closed as a result of lockdown and other financial pressures. One of the many casualties.

A steady 1000 ft. ascent on a previously cobbled track with not much to see, Claughton Hall was hidden behind trees and Claughton Beck could be heard but not seen. Near the top we walked under the upper part of the ropeway. The buckets were trundling up and down by gravity feed. Constructed in 1924, this is the last gravity feed aerial ropeway operating in Britain. We crept into the upper quarry to see where the buckets were coming from – the answer was a shed where presumably the shale and  clay was loaded. There was a large quarry behind. We need not have trespassed as there are plenty of YouTube videos.

We came out onto the open moor near the wind farm and past the restored Moorcock Hall – certainly one of the remotest houses in Lancashire with a splendid view over Morecambe Bay.

A diversion was suggested to the trig point, 361m, of Caton Moor. We had walked past here on The Witches Way in 2016 without visiting the top. It was fairly barren up here but there were good views over the northern Bowland fells with the shapely ‘peak’ of Mallowdale Pike catching our eye, one for another day?  Ingleborough of cause made an appearance.

On the way back Sir Hugh spotted a couple of workers on one of the wind-turbine blades, I think I would have walked past without noticing. They must have abseiled down for some repair work which looked perilous from below.

I tried an arty shot with the juxtaposition of wind power against nuclear, Morecambe Power Station in the blurry background.

After the excitement we found a picnic bench for a civilised lunch stop. Two ladies on an adjoining bench were having a conversation where they both spoke at the same time.

The tarmacked lane down to Brookhouse went on for ages in the ever increasing heat of the sun.

Brookhouse is a charming olde worlde village which modern times and the main road have passed by. We were glad of a sit-down in the church yard where fresh cool water was found. St. Paul’s church dates from the !6thC. Built into the West wall is a Norman Arched doorway. Set into it are stones from former buildings, various Medieval marked stones. Rather a shambles really.

Whilst in the pretty village we had time to find the Plague Stone. Set into the parapet of the bridge next to the pub is a large stone with a hollowed-out top. In Medieval times plague epidemics killed thousands of people up to the late C17th. Victims socially distanced themselves outside towns but collected food from the stone. It is thought that the depression in the stone was filled with vinegar to act as a sanitiser for the coins left in payment. Does this all sound familiar in the twenty-first century?

A field path took us to the busy A683 which we crossed to get onto the disused railway line [Lancaster to KIrkby Lonsdale] this provides a cycle way out of Lancaster city centre but sadly comes to an end near here as far as public access is concerned. The River Lune curves elegantly through the fields and despite its attractiveness there is little in the way of a marked path. A lady was swimming in one of the pools; it looked very inviting in the hot sunshine. Ahead was Ingleborough with Hornby Castle prominent upstream. Fields separated us from the brickworks with the windmills visible on the moor above.

Heading back into Claughton we crossed the site of the old railway line at Gatekeepers Cottage. There was no sign of life at The Fenwick Arms.

On the drive home I stopped to take a photo of the aerial ropeway and its yellow buckets crossing the road, I now know where they come from.



A LANCASHIRE MONASTIC WAY. 9. Cockerham to Lancaster.

                                                         Lancashire Coastal Way.

It is strange weather – one day of wind and rain, the next bright sunshine and then more rain. I take my chances on a sunny day. I’ve moved on to the northern part of Lancashire’s Monastic Way by John Convey, will think about a link-up from Sawley at a later date. It is a clear morning with a chilly wind coming off the sea as I walk down the lane to  St. Michaels Church, an Anglican Parish Church in Cockerham. Of course, it is closed when I arrive. The oldest part is the C16 tower. The body of the church was rebuilt by the Lancaster architects Austin and Paley.  who were responsible for much church architecture from the mid 19th century. Cockerham Priory from the C13 was situated hereabouts but there are no remains from when it was dissolved in 1477.

Soon I was on The Lancashire Coastal Way following flood defences surrounded by low tide marshes around the coast to visit Cockersand Abbey. The obvious remains are the C13 Octagonal Chapter House with a few other bits of walls from the Abbey Church. There had been a hospital on the site which was dissolved in 1539. The land was subsequently acquired by the Daltons from Thurnham Hall and the Chapter House used as a mausoleum hence its preservation today. It is a bleak spot for an Abbey.

Out in the Lune estuary is the Plover Scar Lighthouse, also known as the Abbey Lighthouse, an active 19th-century lighthouse now fully automated. The last time I was along here the lighthouse was being repaired following a collision with a commercial vessel. Nearby on the coast is the original lighthouse keepers cottage. The lighthouse can be reached at low tide and in the past, the keeper would have to attend to the paraffin lamps.

After Crook Farm, I followed what had been Marsh Lane which disappeared under flood water at one point. Wet socks resulted.

But soon I was seated outside the friendly Glasson Cafe enjoying a coffee and pasty.

The marina was quiet at this time of year, I joined the Glasson Branch canal, which when it was completed in 1825  joined the Lancaster Canal near Galgate. Then along in 1883 came the railway to link to Lancaster, it was on this disused line I would continue the walk. But first I had a look at Christ Church alongside the canal. This Anglican Parish Church was designed by Edmund Sharpe who became involved with the Lancaster firm of Austin and Paley mentioned above. Originally built in 1840 but added to in the C20. I walked in to find that the west gallery has been converted into an accessible coffee/reading room. The stained glass in the east window was impressive, designed by Joseph Fisher [1979] of the Lancaster firm  Shrigley and Hunt

Returning to the Railway track I crossed the River Condor and headed north, easy walking with views across the Lune estuary. To my right were the grounds of Ashton Hall now a golf course. I could not see the hall which was established in the C14, a tower apparently is from that date. The hall has had many owners but in 1884 was sold to the wealthy lino manufacturer, James Williamson whom when he was knighted took the title Lord Ashton. With reference to today, he arranged to have a halt built on the railway line I’m walking on. After his second wife’s death, he had the Ashton Memorial built in Williamson park, an elevated site seen from afar and later today.

River Condor.

Ashton Hall Golf Course.

Along the line, the hedges were loaded with red berries, no wonder lots of birds were about, Redwings and Fieldfares. A solar farm has been built near Stodday, they must have more sunshine here than the rest of Lancashire. The climb away from the line up to Aldcliffe was steeper than expected. I was now heading directly into Lancaster along the Lancaster Canal a route I’ve used before.

Today I had time to leave the canal to have a look at the nearby Lancaster Cathedral.  When in 1791, the Roman Catholic Relief Act was passed local Catholics built a mission in Dalton Square. When a larger church was needed local architect Paley designed this church for the present site, consecrated in 1859 it became a cathedral in 1924. The tower and spire are 240ft high making it visible throughout the city. The interior was impressive but with too many fussy side chapels. Some of the stained glass was by Shrigley and Hunt, mentioned at Glasson. Unfortunately, I found a lot of the information preachy, I can appreciate the stunning architecture without being religious.Time to catch my bus.

                    Lancaster with the Ashton Memorial, Cathedral and Town Hall.





Let it rain.

The good weather had to end – it had been raining all night and I was half expecting a ring from Sir Hugh to call off today’s walk. No, not really, he is far more resolute than that. And anyhow it would be drier by late morning, I do miss Dianne Oxberry giving us the NW forecast but there are some interesting successors.


The River Wenning in Hornby was probably running a good two feet higher than when I finished my last walk.

Hornby was short-lived and we were on a lane passing the motte and bailey of  Castle Stede, C10th, somewhat obscured by trees and rain. Down below was our first view of the River Lune which we crossed on the graceful Loyn Bridge. Wainwright sketched thsese in his Lune edition. It was here we left Bowland which has provided some excellent walking in a thankfully relatively unknown backwater.

A Wainwright. 1980.

We splashed our way through soggy fields, struggled over slippy awkward stiles, jumped or waded through little temporary rivers; all the time the rain came steadily down. Everywhere was drowning.  After the Gothic style Storrs Hall a tarmacked lane gave some respite although it was more like a river in parts [damp heading photo]. It climbed over pleasant hills but the views were minimal, vaguely ahead was Hutton Roof an area of limestone outcrops which we regularly climbed on. My camera was safely stashed most of the time.


Storrs Hall.

I’d never heard of the River Keer before although I must have crossed it many times by road, rail and canal as it winds its short way onwards through Carnforth to Morecambe Bay. Today it was a raging stream barring our progress but hidden in the trees was a small bridge. Unfortunately, a sign stated it was closed as it had been partially washed away in floods, we had no option but to trust it as we couldn’t have waded the fast-flowing water.  I sent Sir Hugh across first.

Pleased with ourselves for overcoming that problem we were nearly run down by a train whilst crossing the Morecambe to Leeds line.

Oh! and it was still raining into the early afternoon. More importantly, we had just left Lancashire and entered Cumbria, formerly Westmorland. Westmorland was a county of the Lake District until in 1974 it along with Cumberland and bits of Lancashire became Cumbria. Wainwright must have had a soft spot for Westmorland because he brought out an academic book on its history and villages – Westmorland Heritage, 1975, now out of print and expensive second hand.

More ups and downs followed on paths that receive very little usage. Eventually, there was a glimmer of blue sky as we reached a better path on a ridge, it was nearly two before we found somewhere dry to sit and eat a spot of lunch.  Here our topic of conversation turned from Brexit to Sir Hugh’s flask which he was convinced was not his, maybe the top was but certainly not the body. It seemed to pray on his mind as he was still debating it as we started on our way.

My camera had not been used much in the wet weather but now as things cleared we had views of Morecambe Bay, Arnside Knott and the southern Lakes. When I use the term ‘Lakes’ I am really referring to the Lake District and particularly its hills, odd that we use such a  contraction.

The distant ‘Lakes’.

Arriving at a familiar road leading out of Burton up to Hutton Roof, we are less than a mile from the former but WW climbed a wall and took us on a circular tour of the land around Dalton Hall [which we never glimpsed]. There didn’t seem to any logic for this but I suspect Nick Burton is taking us on a voyage of discovery based on AW’s Westmorland book. No complaints, except the extra mile, as the estate was quintessential English parkland of a certain era. A wonderful selection of trees planted way back when.

Dalton Old Hall Farm.

A pair of ‘kissing trees’.

We eventually arrived in Burton-in-Kendal, to give it its full name. People drive, too quickly, through its narrow main street, I’ve probably been guilty of that, but on foot you realise the wealth of architectural buildings in the village. At one time Burton was an important stopping off point on the Lancaster to Kendal carriageway. It became an important corn market in the C17-18 and its wealth is reflected in its houses. The canal and then the railway took all its trade to Kendal and it has not really improved since then. I was sorry to see the Royal Hotel, in the centre next to the market cross, looking closed and derelict, we used to drink a pint or two here after a climbing evening on Hutton Roof or Farlerton.

A Wainwright. 1975.

Our next objective was to join the Lancaster Canal for a mile or so into Holme. We followed a lane signed from when Burton had a station, the mainline trains just fly through now……as does the motorway with Farleton Crag above.

We took to the more sedate towpath of the Lancaster Canal for our final mile into Holme. I have walked this stretch before and the towpath was just as muddy. No boats use this northern section which has been cut off from the rest of the system by the motorway. Below us at one point is Holme Mill with its lake, at one time a flourishing C19 linen mill with flax grown locally. On the other side of the canal are some well-preserved coke ovens.

At bridge 149 we climbed out into Holme which we will have more time to explore on our next stage of WW. Apart from some dampness of my socks I had coped with the day’s rain and floods which had given us an extra perspective to a simple walk.




A walk of two halves, coming with a health warning.

I’ve tagged this post ‘Lake District’ which is not correct but the motorway skirting the Lakes gives most people their only view of The Howgills and that’s as far as it goes for the majority. I would imagine for every thousand walkers setting foot in the Lakes there will be barely one in The Howgills. That view from the motorway shows extensive rounded hills with deeply divided valleys, long fingery ridges radiating from the central mass. The Lune Valley and Mainline Railway share that Western Boundary with the motorway, there is one particularly conspicuous, twisting deep valley leading intriguingly into hidden depths – this is the Carlin Gill.  Photo above.

I arrange a walk with Sir Hugh and suggest The Howgills for somewhere different, he says he has always wanted to explore Carlin Gill. The die is cast.

I have vague memories of walking up the gill to take a look at Black Force and The Spout, two hidden waterfalls. Out comes Wainwright’s ‘Walks on the Howgill Fells’ for guidance,  a few chapters cover parts of our intended route.

Carlin Gill – “The walk cannot be done if the beck is in flood. A half-mile section is a battle against nature in the raw and ends in a desperate scramble. Nonagenarians should think twice before attempting it.”

Part one.

Having parked up by the Gill we are not certain whether ‘the beck is in flood‘ or not, there seems a lot of water in it after recent heavy rain. We set off debating which side we should be on, the best path often on the other bank and sufficient water to deter wading. Sheep trods are followed with slippery rock encountered on steep obstructions. But progress is made, we marvel at the sunny weather, our solitude and surroundings.

The start of Carlin Gill.

The way ahead.

Easy going…

Deeper into the valley we are forced alongside the beck where care is needed to avoid a slip. Soon [it was over an hour] we are alongside the impressive Black Force, a waterfall tumbling down a gully opposite.


Getting awkward.

Don’t slip now.

Approaching Black Force.





Black Force.

We do not like the look of the scramble up it which is one of our escape routes! So we persist up the gill a few more hundred yards until stood under The Spout, the 30ft waterfall blocking our exit. An impressive place to be. I’m pleased we penetrated so far and would be happy to return the way we came but there are primitive stirrings from Sir Hugh to climb out ‘now we are here’.


In the beck.

Let’s look round the corner.




The Spout.

Wainwright says to climb a crack in the rib to easier ground above the fall, a steep scramble. Neither of us likes the look of the slippery crack or the steep ground above it. The other side of the gill looks as steep. Curiously we don’t think of retreat but convince ourselves of a better way just to the left of Wainwright’s option, some steep grassy rakes avoiding the loose rock. It is only when 15ft up with Sir Hugh clinging to grassy handholds and feet skidding on wet moss that I have a change of heart – “Why don’t we go down?”    “I can’t”  came the reply.


Grassy rakes.

Getting steeper.

“I can’t go back.”

Fast forward and I’ve coaxed Sir Hugh back to relative safety and we progress to better handholds – heather rather than moss. The angle eases and we have time to sit and have a team talk about further progress.  Soon we are traversing on sheep tracks above an ever-increasing drop and then it is all over as we arrive at Blakethwaite Bottom a boggy basin.

As exposed as it looks.

Easier ground.

Part Two.

Having defied death all was plain sailing from now on except that we were only halfway up onto the tops. A vague track led up to a vague col where we turned right and were able to stroll alongside each other, discussing the day so far, onto Docker Knott. The views were staggering particularly to the north. Undulations led to Wind Scarth where we had to be careful to keep right avoiding a well-trodden track to The Calf. There are no walls, fences and few cairns up here to help navigation but that is one of the attractions of these open fellsides. An upwards path heads towards a visible cairn on Fell Head at  623m the highest point on the Western Howgills. A couple of fell walkers passed us on the ridge without any conversation, the only people we saw all day. At the cairn, we sat and had some lunch and took in the 360-degree views. Everywhere was clear Morecambe Bay, The Lakeland Fells, distant Galloway, Cross Fell and the Northern Pennines, the Three Peaks, Bowland Hills and possibly far away Snowdonia. Sir Hugh was having a great time with his long zoom lens.

Upwards on Docker Fell.

Looking north.

The Calf.

Heading for Fell Head.

Fell Head looking south to Morecambe Bay.

West towards the Lakes.

Yorkshire Three Peaks.

Careful compass work made sure we were on our way towards the lesser top of Linghaw and onwards over Back Balk with the motorway in the background to arrive back directly to the car parked ironically on Gibbet Hill, we had escaped the gallows on this memorable day’s walk.

Heading down.

The Lune Valley and our car insight.

Well done Sir Hugh, mission accomplished – it will be less steep in The Broads next week!  Check out his post for further photos.

I am now keen to return to the Howgills and explore further but perhaps not in Carlin Gill.

A footnote.

I didn’t mention that a tree at the base of the spout was festooned with Tibetan Prayer flags and strangely a climbing helmet. There were also some ashes scattered on the rocks. Our imaginations ran wild  – was this someone’s favourite retreat or was somebody fatally injured on these rocks?

I’ve just ‘googled’ Carlin Gill Accident without a lot of success except for one accident that happened to Sir Hugh, who had posted that he slipped heavily on a patch of ice near the bridge at the start of the Gill whilst on a simple walk along the lane in winter January 2017. https://conradwalks.blogspot.com/2017/01/tebat-sedbergh-road.html








THE WAY OF THE CROW. Sixth day, The Lune to Carnforth.

                                                       We’ve had a lot of rain.

It was going to be difficult today to stay within the kilometre of our self-imposed straight line from my house in Longridge to Sir Hugh’s in Arnside. To get this far, as the crow flies, we had employed dubious means and been lucky with the positioning of important bridges. Another footpathless zone faced us this morning. Simple, said Sir Hugh just ask the farmer if we can tramp across his fields and walls, I wasn’t convinced.  In the mist we ghosted through the farmyard, not a dog barked or a cow stirred but there ahead was our adversary.  A burly farmer, I pushed Sir High forward with his simple proposition. Please sir… ” Yes just go down that field , through a gate and onwards.  But why didn’t you just follow the road?”  Our explanation seem to baffle him, as I thought it would. Rejoicing we ploughed on, the magic straight line was becoming our mantra.


The day had started back at Halton station, a few dog walkers were gathering. The bridge across the Lune was strange, it looked like a railway bridge but carried a single lane highway. The history here explains all…


Safely across we wandered through Halton, a mixture of old and new housing. As soon as we could field paths were followed on surprisingly undulating terrain, Both of us, recovering from chesty coughs, wheezed up hill. The forecast was wrong and we found ourselves in that miserable and annoyingly wetting mizzle. Before long the track to Stub Hall Farm was reached and our fate for the day in the farmer’s hands. A big thank you.

Once on the public footpath we relaxed into Nether Kellet and were soon going out on the wrong lane, a short cut was spotted across the recreational ground. Here was a war memorial to the Second World War from some distant benefactor.

Our next barrier, the M6, was easily crossed and some interesting paths taken through fields, woods and quarries.

Sacrilege to affix onto ancient stones.

We were intrigued by this standing water pipe curiosity.

The Lancaster Canal was reached and the adjacent A6 highway, a convenient seat for lunch next to a bus stop had locals peering at us through the condensed bus windows. I felt quite tramp like under their gaze. Although this was officially Carnforth we walked out through Crag Bank which seemed to have lots of old stone cottages, origins unknown. We were now in the drained marshlands of Morecambe Bay, today a little eerie with the mist.  Getting off the road proved difficult, a gate fell apart in my hands and we encountered impenetrable stiles in the march. Nobody uses the paths past Galley Hall. Another fortuitous bridge took us across the muddy River Keer and we were in the outskirts of Warton, the gloom preventing any views of the limestone crags above us. Hopefully the weather will be better for our last stretch into Arnside.



THE WAY OF THE CROW. Fifth day, Postern Gate to The Lune.

                    The classic English countryside of Qurnmore Hall Park.

Quernmore Park estate forms the most formidable obstacle to our straight line route and over the last week in anticipation Sir Hugh and I have been plotting a military style assault. Using aerial photos and maps we have tried to find a way through, unobserved, without too many unclimbable fences, we have more plan A, B, C and D’s than the present Brexit debacle. There’s not a public footpath in sight. However our chief negotiator is highly skilled and has behind the scenes obtained permission from the owners to walk through on the forbidden lane. Here we are at the Postern Gate on a bright afternoon ready to stride past all the private signs to join the privileged classes.

The hall itself was well hidden behind walls and security gates.

To be honest we enjoyed our passage through the grounds even being greeted by the owner half way through.

At the end we emerged at the North Lodge onto a busy road, which would not have been pleasant or safe to walk along, a quick climb over a gate had us into a steep field leading down towards the River Lune. Fortunately another fence assault brought us onto the Lune Valley Ramble route and a clear walk along the old Lancaster to Wennington railway, closed under the Beeching axe in the 1960s and now a landscaped cycle path as far as Bull Beck, Caton. A complete contrast to the previous parkland.

On the opposite bank were new houses built since my last visit. They looked like affordable housing and were impressively roofed in solar panels.

The old station at Halton was busy, not with passengers but with students gathering for an afternoon’s rowing on the river. They have use of the listed building as a boat house which according to their coach costs a fortune.

A satisfying short walk through forbidden ground, all should be easy from now on.


LANCASTER CANAL 5. Lancaster to Carnforth.

Another change of personnel today,  JD joined Peter and I on a windy morning. The highlight of the day was crossing the Lune Aqueduct on the edge of Lancaster. The walk from the pedestrian bridge [103] in town was through the rather dull suburbs but by the time we reached the aqueduct open countryside was visible, or at least a golf course. Rennie’s aqueduct opened in 1797, after 5years construction, to much acclaim. There are five arches scanning 70ft 50ft above the Lune. Recently there has been a significant refurbishment with improvements to the lining and the stonework. We should have descended the steps to view the structure from the river bank. Instead  we strolled over the exposed towpath made safer by the ornate balustrade. Lancaster castle was glimpsed downstream. Lunesdale upstream.

The next landmark was the new ‘milestone’ bridge carrying the M6 relief road to Morecambe.  This was a massive structure compared to the usual arched stone bridges. One of the latter in the vicinity has been widened more sympathetically to accommodate the road, a date of 1921 is visible.

Along side the canal every 6-7 miles or so were stables for the fleet of horses enabling the ‘fast’ passenger boat from Preston to Kendal, done in 8 – 9 hours. The masonry remains of one is next the towpath, easily missed.

Through Hest Bank and Bolton-Le-sands we seemed to hover drone-like above the houses with views across Morecambe Bay. At one time ships would harbour on the Morecambe Bay coast here with goods to be transferred up to the canal, the opening of the Glasson Dock branch in 1826 superseded this. Somewhere between the two villages is a good example of a swing bridge, now leading to private houses. We contemplated on how it would be interesting to withdraw access to unwanted visitors by a swing of this bridge.

I was on the lookout for old coke ovens at two sites into Carnforth, bridges 125 and 127, but disappointed with the outcome. No real sign of the beehive structures across the other bank, the low sun making visibility difficult. The ovens were used to produce better firing smokeless fuel for blacksmiths and bakers and later for iron smelting. They are supposed to look like this,,


The basin to the south of Carnforth was busy with boats and dog walkers but before we knew it we were back in a rural setting before the children’s playground announced bridge 128 on the Kellet road. Time to find a bus back.


Corniest boat name of the day…


THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES WALK – Caton Moor to Lancaster Castle.

Our final stage of this fascinating walk began high on the Caton Moors. The well known, when  viewed from the motorway, wind turbines were rotating rapidly in the strong wind as we passed. Up here today we had extensive views of the Bowland Fells, Ingleborough and Pennine fells north, the Lune Valley and Morecambe Bay, an exhilarating start to the day. In a picnic area we found our first tercet of the day, No 6. A lane coming from nowhere brought us down into Brookhouse and we explored the back lanes and pretty houses of the village, roses seem to be a specialty of the gardens here.

Across the main road we joined the Lune Valley Ramble into Lancaster along an old railway. All of a sudden humanity appeared – dog walkers, joggers and cyclists supporting the idea of good exercise and being able to participate in a safe and beautiful environment. Well done Lancaster with the help of European money!  Two men were setting off  cycling coast to coast  to Bridlington, a route my son speaks highly of. They were an odd couple one young and fit on a classy bike, the other hoping to rely on his electric motor to get across the Pennines. I hope their enthusiasm saw them through although I suspect they will have been very wet at the weekend. We crossed the famous Crook Of Lune [painted by Turner] on an impressive bridge. More cyclists were passing the next tercet. For a break we sat on the banks of the river below a weir near Halton old station. A fisherman engaged us in conversation about all things Lancashire, No fish were caught. it was about at this time that the zip on Sir Hugh’s shorts malfunctioned causing great hilarity to the fisherman and great embarrassment to the wearer. Apologies to anyone in Lancaster whom we shocked or offended.

A pleasant stretch on a lane parallel to the motorway followed, large puddles where evidence of recent rainfall. We were heading for the castle but first we visited the prominent hill forming part of Williamson Park thought to be the site of the witches’ gallows, and now the site of the 9th tercet.  We wandered through attractive parkland and climbed up the baroque Ashton Memorial for views over Lancaster and the surrounding areas. Then it was down busy streets across town passing the Golden Lion pub where the witches were supposed to have been offered a final drink on the way to be hung – an unlikely tale. Incongruously two walkers in shorts, with walking poles, marched through the shopping area and eventually climbed up to the impressive castle gates and the last tercet. A lot of restoration work is going on so we didn’t linger.

Thus we had completed a trail full of interest which deserves to be better known.

The complete poem

‘The Lancashire Witches’ by Carol Ann Duffy

One voice for ten dragged this way once
by superstition, ignorance.
Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.

Witch: female, cunning, manless, old,
daughter of such, of evil faith;
in the murk of Pendle Hill, a crone.

Here, heavy storm-clouds, ill-will brewed,
over fields, fells, farms, blighted woods.
On the wind’s breath, curse of crow and rook.

From poverty, no poetry
but weird spells, half-prayer, half-threat;
sharp pins in the little dolls of death.

At daylight’s gate, the things we fear                                                                                               darken and form. That tree, that rock,
a slattern’s shape with the devil’s dog.

Something upholds us in its palm-
landscape, history, place and time-
and, above, the same old witness moon

below which Demdike, Chattox, shrieked,
like hags, unloved, an underclass,
badly fed, unwell. Their eyes were red.

But that was then- when difference
made ghouls of neighbours; child beggars                                                                                              feral, filthy, threatened in their cowls.

Grim skies, the grey remorse of rain;
sunset’s crimson shame; four seasons,
centuries, turning, in Lancashire,

away from Castle, Jury, Judge,
huge crowd, rough rope, short drop, no grave
only future tourists who might grieve.

Sir Hugh’s own blog tells a similar tale of our progress –  http://conradwalks.blogspot.co.uk/

THREE MEN AND A MAP – The Limestone Link.

The Limestone Link [LL] is a 13mile walk between Arnside and Kirkby Lonsdale. The plan involved two cars, I met The Rockman and The Teacher already parked up at Arnside and then drove us in my car to Kirkby Lonsdale. This meant we had lots of last-minute decisions to make ensuring all gear and essentials were in the right car at the right time and place, not easy for our blurred minds first thing. We had the 1:25000 map marked with the route for the west end but not for the east, One of our party suggested we wouldn’t need the latter as the route would be well waymarked but last evening I spent a bit of time on the computer and printed out a segment around Kirkby.

There was ample free parking at the popular Devil’s Bridge, our staring point. As we arrived we were swamped by hundreds of teenagers, admittedly well behaved and friendly, all going for a walk – surely not the Limestone Link!  A teacher informed us, as 800 marched past, that it was their annual charity 20k walk fortunately in the other direction over the Barbon Fells. Hope they had a good day, the weather was perfect for us all. As calm descended we had time for coffee and a look over the bridge at the attractive River Lune flowing over limestone slabs.

We thought it strange there were no LL signs or markers to be seen as we left the bridge across a park. Within a few yards The Teacher realised his boots weren’t comfy as he had forgotten the insoles, back to the car to change into trainers, fortunately taken. Quickly climbing into fields on vague paths we were soon clustered round my little piece of inadequate photocopy. The ‘route’ seemed to be following a limestone ridge so we just kept to that as much as possible, we knew we were heading to Hutton Roof.  Behind us Ingleborough stood proud as usual, ahead was more gentle rolling countryside. A couple of diversions to avoid hay being cut and a bull saw us walking up the surprisingly steep lane into Hutton Roof. I was more familiar with the territory here as this was once a regular spot to come bouldering on the limestone outcrops up the hill. But the paths were overgrown with bracken and my memory faded, out came the real map and even the compass for onward progress. Have to admit it was delightful, once out of the bracken, on the flower-strewn limestone with views back over the outcrop towards Ingleborough. Northerly views to the Lakes etc were rather poor in the heat haze. A good spot for a snack.

A winding track through shrubs led on down to a lane below Holme Fell where we came across a LL sign, the first evidence we were on the correct route. Perversely within a hundred yards or so we were lost in a profusion of paths mostly going up Holme Fell, more clustering around the map and compass had us back on track over the side of the fell down the bridleway to the road. Looking back to the right was Farleton Fell another regular bouldering area from the past, we were surprised to see how far it appeared from the road. We were now in a sort of no-mans-land of M6, Railway and A6 between the limestone uplands.

We were glad to escape from an unpleasant loop on a busy road onto the tranquil canal side.

No-mans-land with Farleton Fell.

No-mans-land with Farleton Fell.

Navigated safely through the surprisingly extensive village of Holme and onwards to Hale. Here things improved as we entered the limestone woods at Slack Head [our second LL signpost!]. There were unmarked footpaths everywhere through this delightful maze, at times directly on the bare limestone pavement. Little country lanes were crossed and eventually we found ourselves at the top of The Fairy Steps. Stopping for a drink we watched as walkers disappeared, laughing and grunting, into the cleft. If you don’t touch the sides you may see a Fairy and have a wish, I think you would have to be a fairy not to touch the sides. Yet another area from previous bouldering trips to reminisce over – we do a lot of reminiscing!  Down a rocky path to Hazelslack with its late 14thC Pele tower to ward off the Scots. A few more map readings and we were into Arnside and enjoying a pint at the pub overlooking the Lune and its viaduct. Coincidentally bumped into my old friend Conrad  [http://conradwalks.blogspot.co.uk/] family and friends, they had just returned from their regular Thursday walk.

So the LImestone Link has provided us with a lovely social day’s walk over interesting terrain and with wide-ranging views. It can be done in trainers! The road walking near Holme could have been avoided by a traverse of Farleton Fell and more canal walking. As a whole it doesn’t seem to be well used, particularly in the East and there is an almost total lack of any signing or way-marking. No big problem but thank God we took a map.

Time to rest.

                                                          Time to rest.