The Land of the Lune

John Self    Drakkar Press

The Land of the Lune presents a guide to the region of northwest England that lies within the Lune watershed. It covers parts of the Howgills, the Lakes, the Dales and the Forest of Bowland, and the area between. It travels along the Lune and its tributaries (including the Rawthey, Clough, Dee, Greta, Wenning, Conder and Cocker), visiting places of interest along the way, such as Tebay, Sedbergh, Kirkby Lonsdale, Ingleton, Bentham and Lancaster.

The First Edition (2008) of The Land of the Lune is now out of print. A pdf version of the Second Edition (2010) was placed on-line but it was not suitable for small screens, and has therefore been replaced by this html version. This has the same text and photographs as the 2010 pdf version, but is formatted differently and has a few necessary updates.
crook of lune

The Lune at the Crook o’Lune


  1.      Northern Howgills and Orton Fells
  2.      Shap Fells and Birkbeck Fells
  3.      Western Howgills and Firbank Fell
  4.      Upper Rawtheydale
  5.      Lower Rawtheydale and Dentdale
  6.      Middleton Fell
  7.      Middle Lunesdale and Leck Fell
  8.      The Greta Headwaters
  9.      Gretadale and a little more Lunesdale
  10.    The Wenning Headwaters
  11.    Wenningdale, Hindburndale and Roeburndale
  12.    The Lune Floodplain and the Top of Bowland
  13.    The Lune to Lancaster
  14.    The Salt Marshes
  15.    Into Morecambe Bay


The view from the Crook o’Lune at Caton is tranquil. The River Lune, nestled deep within its banks, meanders toward us from the hazy hills in the distance. But on a few days each year the scene is very different. The Lune then is a muddy torrent, raging halfway up Penny Bridge and stretching wide across the floodplain. An obvious question on such a day is: where does all this water come from?
crook of lune1
crook of lune2

Two views from the Crook o’Lune

      This book answers this question as a pretext for providing a guide to a part of northwest England that is generally overlooked. As we will see, the region within the Lune watershed includes parts of the Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales, the Forest of Bowland and the Howgills, and all of what lies between them. Our region, however, gets little attention. For example, the National Trust, whose mission is to preserve “places of historic interest or natural beauty”, owns about 350 sq km in the Lake District and 60 sq km in the Yorkshire Dales but within the Lune watershed only one public house, and that it did not actively acquire but gained through a bequest.
      Perhaps this is understandable because the region within the Lune watershed has none of England’s greatest buildings, no major historic events happened here, none of England’s greatest men or women were born or lived here, and there are no sites of international ecological importance. Even so, if we approach the region without great expectations, we will find a great deal of interest and appeal – not on the majestic scale of the best of the Lake District but certainly not deserving of complete neglect. There have been thousands of books written on the Lakes but hardly a handful on the Lune region.
      The reputation of the region suffers from it being hurried through by people on their way to the Lakes and the Dales. It has long been regarded as a kind of consolation for those unable to reach their intended destination. For example, The Pictorial History of the County of Lancaster, published in 1854, said “The vale of the Lune may now be visited from London in a day, thanks to railroads; and if the stranger go not as far as Furness or Westmoreland, he may still say he has entered the portal of the northern scenery of England, and found that alone has repaid his visit, especially if he prefer the tranquil in nature to the severe and grand – to pore over the bubbling brook, rather than listen to the thunders of the cataract”.
      We will follow the waters of the Lune and all its tributaries as they make their way from the fells to the estuary. This will take us through a variety of landscapes – fells, moors, crags, valleys, pastures, floodplains and estuary – but all the while, in our mind’s ear, we will be accompanied by the comforting sounds of the beck and river. The Lune itself is not a long river, a mere 105km, but it drains 1285 sq km of varied terrain that fortunately remains in a condition relatively unaffected by so-called development. The Lune valley is a fine one but much more of interest is added if we widen our scope to include its tributaries.

A Word on Terminology

luck to loyne Right: Lancaster’s “Luck to Loyne” crest

The phrase “the region within the Lune watershed” is cumbersome. I will co-opt the old, now largely disused, word ‘Loyne’ as shorthand for this phrase. ‘Lunesdale’ or ‘Lonsdale’ will not serve my purpose because they are usually taken to refer narrowly to the valley of the Lune itself. The few authors who have written on Lunesdale have some difficulty in deciding how far to creep up the tributaries – Sedbergh?, Bentham?, Ingleton? … My rule is simple: if rain falling on an area makes its way to the Lune estuary then the area is within my scope.
      Loyne may seem an artificial construct compared with the familiar counties and National Parks. In fact, it is the administrative boundaries that are arbitrary – witness the 1974 creation of the boundaries of Cumbria, Lancashire and North Yorkshire, with the loss of Cumberland and Westmorland, and the on-going debate about changing the National Park boundaries. The Lake District includes the Shap Fells but not the similar Birkbeck Fells across the A6, although many regard both as not really part of the Lakes. The Yorkshire Dales National Park includes the southern half of the Howgills but not the similar northern half. Many consider that the Howgills should not be part of the Dales and would rather include, say, Wild Boar Fell.
      [Update: The 2016 changes to the National Park boundaries made some of the details above incorrect - but confirmed the point that the boundaries are arbitrary.]
      To anyone looking from the Crook o’Lune, Loyne seems perfectly coherent. Everything we see is within Loyne, and a great deal of Loyne can be seen. Ingleborough and Whernside, for example, seem clearly to belong to Loyne.

The Aim of this Book

The implicit aim of most guides is to encourage readers to visit that which is described. My aim is the opposite. I intend to describe a virtual, vicarious journey that may be enjoyed in an armchair by the fireside, thereby saving you time, energy and expense and protecting the serenity and loneliness of Loyne for those who enjoy that sort of thing, like me. (Reviewers of a draft manuscript have warned me that readers cannot see the tongue in my cheek, so I will henceforth do my best to remove it.)

A Note about the Walks

There are outlines of 24 walks in this book. It is strongly advised that the suggested route be traced on the appropriate 1:25000 Ordnance Survey (OS) map before you embark on any of the walks. The descriptions given here are not adequate unless used in conjunction with the OS map. The region is covered by maps OL19 (Howgill Fells and Upper Eden Valley), OL7 (The English Lakes, south-eastern area), OL2 (Yorkshire Dales, southern and western areas), OL41 (Forest of Bowland and Ribblesdale) and Explorer 296 (Lancaster, Morecambe and Fleetwood).
      The outlines do not give step-by-step instructions as in specialist walking books. The idea is that, once you have traced the proposed route, you should adapt it as necessary to suit your own needs. Each route passes points of interest mentioned in the text preceding the walk description. Always bear in mind that the walk details, such as they are, are provided in good faith but their continued correctness cannot be guaranteed.
      All the suggested walks are full-day** (five or six hour) loops from a car-parking spot. If you can reach the starting point by bicycle or public transport please do so. Unfortunately, the details of public transport are too changeable to be given here.
      The walks require a good standard of fitness but there is no need for the heroic scrambling of some Lakeland walks. However, some walks do venture into wild, remote areas and accidents can happen anywhere. To be on the safe side, here is a list of items that you should take (created by merging the lists in half a dozen serious walking books on my shelf): map, compass, food, drink, waterproofs, hat, gloves, survival bag, whistle, torch with spare batteries, mobile phone, a GPS (global positioning system) and three people. The last are to help carry all the clobber, or you, if you should have that accident. Always leave information or tell someone about your intended route and estimated time of return, check weather conditions and forecasts before setting out, and wear appropriate clothes and footwear. (To avoid being hypocritical, I admit that some of my reconnoitring involved running around with only a map stuffed in my shorts. Very foolish.)
      Walking on the fells had been accepted (except in the Bowland Fells) even where there was no right of way. The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 has provided official access to what I will refer to as ‘CRoW land’. Always enter CRoW land by public footpaths or official entry points, where there is generally a ‘welcome’ sign or a brown ‘walking man’ sign.
      The 24 walks are listed in the Index.
      [Update: I have dispensed with the Index for this on-line version, as search engines effectively index on-line text for us. Instead, I've added the walks to the 'Detailed Contents' below.]

** In this second edition I have, in response to popular request, added a short walk (about three hours) variation, wherever possible from the same starting point as the long walk.
      [Update: A reader tells me that they completed versions of all the walks (23 long and 1 short) in one year "thoroughly enjoying the whole experience" and "learned much along the way about the history and geology of the area we live in". They started with walk 24 and proceeded 'backwards' - which was a good idea as the earlier walks in the book are more challenging.]


Writing a general guide such as this is a humbling experience. I found that every topic, however obscure – be it within history, botany, geology, or whatever – on which I needed to write a sentence or two has been the subject of a lifetime’s devoted study by somebody. In a non-academic book, extensive references and footnotes are not appropriate but I am nonetheless very grateful for their unacknowledged work and hope that they will not pounce upon me for my superficial misrepresentation of it.
      I will, however, name with gratitude those brave friends who commented upon a draft manuscript: Jim Foster, Lesley Jordan, Bob Lauder, Michael Mumford and Clare Napier. I have done my best to respond to their views – even though it wasn’t always easy to reconcile them! Overall, I much appreciated that they found time for this. As is traditional, I claim full responsibility for all the errors and faults that remain.
      I am particularly grateful for the comments and encouragement of my son Martin and daughter Pamela, and for their advice on matters of technology and design. Without their enthusiasm the project might never have got underway.
      Most of all, I’m grateful to my wife Ruth for being much more of a partner in producing this book than it appears from the text. Apart from giving opinions and encouragement and overseeing overall ‘quality control’, she accompanied me on many of the exploratory expeditions. I have mainly used the first person singular in the text because the reviewers found it disconcerting to keep switching between “we” and “I”, depending on whether Ruth happened to be there or not, and it seemed odd for me to write “we” for those occasions when Ruth was not present. On all occasions, Ruth was there in spirit if not in reality.


All feedback – comments, suggestions, questions, corrections and updates – will be gratefully received. I have tried to ensure that the content is factually reliable (but inevitably there will be misunderstandings and mistakes) and up-to-date (but Loyne covers a large area and although it may not seem to change much it does change a little, without telling me). Therefore, all help in maintaining this on-line second edition will be very welcome. Please send all comments to me at

The Flow of the Book

The flow of the book is determined by the flow of the becks and rivers that eventually reach the Lune estuary. We will take an imaginary journey in which we follow the Lune from its source, surveying points of interest nearby, and whenever we meet a significant tributary we will be magically transported to the source of that tributary and will begin a journey from there, eventually to continue the journey down the Lune. If we meet a significant sub-tributary, we will similarly be transported to its source. So, for example, when, travelling down the Lune, we meet the River Rawthey, we will be transported to its source on West Baugh Fell – and in due course when we meet Clough River, a tributary of the Rawthey, we will be transported to its source on East Baugh Fell – before eventually resuming our journey on the Rawthey and later the Lune.
      In this way, we will systematically cover every part of Loyne. The emphasis on the watercourses is partly a structural device but serves also to highlight their importance in shaping the character of the region and to bring to the fore some of its more attractive features. The imagined flight to the source of the tributaries will take us from the valleys, where habitation and its consequent changes are concentrated, to the fells, which change little from one generation to the next. Throughout Loyne, the fells provide a reassuring background, supporting a quiet reflection on the heritage and attractiveness of the region.
      For those who wish to follow the narrative closely, a more detailed list of the book’s contents is given below, followed by a map of Loyne. Twenty-two tributaries of the Lune (from Bowderdale Beck to Broad Fleet) are given section headings. These have single indents in the list below. Some of the tributaries have sub-tributaries that have been given section headings. For example, the River Rawthey has sub-tributaries of Sally Beck, Clough River and the River Dee. Sub-tributaries have double indents. A “…” in a section heading means that the description of that river is continued in a later section. For example, the Rawthey is described in four sections, separated by the three sub-tributaries.

Detailed Contents

Chapter 1:    Northern Howgills and Orton Fells
The River Lune …    (Green Bell; the Howgills; Newbiggin-on-Lune)
     Bowderdale Beck
          Walk 1:   A Circuit of Bowderdale, including Green Bell
The Lune from Bowderdale Beck …    (Kelleth)
     Langdale Beck    (The Calf)
     Rais Beck    (Sunbiggin; Raisbeck)
     Chapel Beck    (Orton Fells; Orton)
          Walk 2:   Orton, Orton Fells and Sunbiggin Tarn
The Lune from Chapel Beck …    (Tebay)

Chapter 2:    Shap Fells and Birkbeck Fells
     Birk Beck    (Shap Fells; Birkbeck Fells; Greenholme)
          Bretherdale Beck
The Lune from Birk Beck …    (Roundthwaite)
     Walk 3:   Roundthwaite Common and Bretherdale
     Borrow Beck    (Harrop Pike; Crookdale; Borrowdale; Whinfell)
          Walk 4:   Upper Borrowdale, Crookdale and Wasdale
          Walk 5:   Lower Borrowdale

Chapter 3:    Western Howgills and Firbank Fell
The Lune from Borrow Beck …    (Low Borrowbridge)
     Carlingill Beck    (Black Force)
The Lune from Carlingill Beck …    (Lowgill; Howgill)
     Walk 6:   Lowgill and Brown Moor
     Capplethwaite Beck    (Firbank Fell)
          Walk 7:   Fox’s Pulpit and the Waterside Viaduct
The Lune from Capplethwaite Beck …

Chapter 4:    Upper Rawtheydale
     The River Rawthey …    (Baugh Fell)
          Sally Beck    (Wild Boar Fell; the Clouds)
               Walk 8:   Fell End Clouds, Wild Boar Fell and Uldale Gill
     The Rawthey from Sally Beck …    (Cautley Spout)
          Walk 9:   The Calf via Great Dummacks
          Clough River    (Grisedale; Garsdale)
               Walk 10:   Grisedale and East Baugh Fell

Chapter 5:    Lower Rawtheydale and Dentdale
     The Rawthey from the Clough …    (Sedbergh)
          The River Dee    (Blea Moor; Dentdale; Great Knoutberry Hill; Whernside; Deepdale; Great Coum; Dent)
               Walk 11:   Upper Dentdale and Great Knoutberry Hill
               Walk 12:   Middle Dentdale
     The Rawthey from the Dee

Chapter 6:    Middleton Fell
The Lune from the Rawthey …    (Killington; Middleton)
     Stockdale Beck    (Middleton Fell)
          Walk 13:   Middleton Fell
The Lune from Stockdale Beck …    (Rigmaden; Mansergh)
     Barbon Beck    (Barbondale; Barbon)

Chapter 7:    Middle Lunesdale and Leck Fell
The Lune from Barbon Beck …    (Casterton; Kirkby Lonsdale)
     Walk 14:   A Loop between Kirkby Lonsdale and Barbon
     Leck Beck    (Leck Fell; Gragareth; Leck; Cowan Bridge; Burrow)
          Walk 15:   Leck Fell, Gragareth and Great Coum
The Lune from Leck Beck …

Chapter 8:    The Greta Headwaters
     The River Greta (Chapel Beck) …    (Little Dale; Whernside; Chapel-le-Dale; Ingleborough)
          Walk 16:   Whernside from Chapel-le-Dale
          Kingsdale Beck    (Kingsdale; Thornton Force)
               Walk 17:   Kingsdale and Yordas Cave

Chapter 9:    Gretadale and a little more Lunesdale
     The Greta from Kingsdale Beck    (Ingleton; Masongill; Burton-in-Lonsdale)
          Cant Beck    (Ireby; Cantsfield; Tunstall)
     Newton Beck    (Whittington)
The Lune from Newton Beck …    (Arkholme; Melling; Gressingham)

Chapter 10:    The Wenning Headwaters
     The River Wenning …    (Gaping Gill; Clapham)
          Austwick Beck    (Crummackdale; Moughton; Austwick)
               Walk 18:   Crummackdale and the Norber Erratics
          Fen Beck    (Lawkland)
          Kettles Beck    (Bowland Knotts)
     The Wenning from Kettles Beck …    (Newby)
          Walk 19:   Ingleborough and Gaping Gill
          Keasden Beck    (Great Harlow; Burn Moor; Keasden)

Chapter 11:    Wenningdale, Hindburndale and Roeburndale
     The Wenning from Keasden Beck …    (Mewith; Bentham; Wennington)
          The River Hindburn    (White Hill; Lowgill)
               Walk 20:   Middle Hindburndale and Lowgill
               The River Roeburn    (Wolfhole Crag; Mallowdale; Wray)
                    Walk 21:   Roeburndale
     The Wenning from the Hindburn    (Hornby)

Chapter 12:    The Lune Floodplain and the Top of Bowland
The Lune from the Wenning …
     Farleton Beck and Claughton Beck    (Farleton; Claughton)
The Lune from Farleton Beck and Claughton Beck …    (Aughton)
     Bull Beck    (Caton Moor; Brookhouse)
The Lune from Bull Beck …
     Artle Beck    (Ward’s Stone; Littledale; Caton)

Chapter 13:    The Lune to Lancaster
The Lune from Artle Beck …    (Halton; Skerton; Green Ayre; Lancaster; St George’s Quay)
     Walk 22:   Crook o’Lune and Loyn Bridge

Chapter 14:    The Salt Marshes
The Lune from Lancaster ...
     Burrow Beck
     The River Conder    (Quernmore; Galgate; Thurnham)
          Walk 23:   Ward's Stone
The Lune from the Conder …    (Glasson; Overton)

Chapter 15:    Into Morecambe Bay
The Lune from the Conder (continued) …    (Sunderland)
     The River Cocker    (Forton; Cockerham)
          Walk 24:   Glasson, Cockersand Abbey and Cockerham
     Broad Fleet    (Nateby; Pilling)
Reflections from the Point of Lune

References and Index
ch0 map

    © John Self, Drakkar Press