Tourist guide to the Lune Valley

GLORIOUS: Halton Weir

GLORIOUS: Hornby Castle

First published in Tourist guide Blackburn Citizen: Photograph of the Author by

Between Lancaster and Kirkby Lonsdale runs the river Lune with riverside walks as fine as any in Britain and a string of historic villages set amid glorious scenery.

Above the church to the east is Castle Hill marked by a flagpole on the summit.

This marks the site of a Roman fort and the later earthworks of a Saxon castle.

This may have been the power base of Tostig, brother of King Harold, and this is underlined by the discovery of Saxon coins nearby.

In the 19th century an attempt was made to establish a cotton industry but most traces have now gone.

In the churchyard of St Wilfrid is an 11th century cross with Christian symbols on one side and those of the pagan god Sigurd on the other. Here is evidence of a converted Christian hedging his bets.

Nearby and close to Caton and Brookhouse is the Crook of Lune one of the most beautiful stretches of the Lune and spanned by a road bridge and a disused railway bridge now functioning as a nature Reserve leading into Lancaster. The painter Turner often used this stretch of river as his inspiration.

Hornby has a castle overlooking the river Wenning which is a major tributary of the Lune. Turner also painted this castle which is in private ownership. The keep was built in the 13th century but there was a massive rebuild in the 16th century.

Of equal interest is the so-called Eagle Tower of the Church of St Margaret of Antioch. This tower was built by Lord Monteagle who played a major role in the English Victory at the battle of Flodden against the Scots in 1513. Reference is made of the tower in Sir Walter Scott's novel Marmion.

There is an ancient cross in the churchyard and said to have come from an ancient monastery which once stood nearby. Sadly all traces of this have vanished along with the last remains of Lord Monteagle who was buried there.

At one time Hornby was on the coaching route between Lancaster and Kirkby Lonsdale. The Castle Inn is sadly now closed but its stables can still be seen. Look out for a door now bricked up and situated high up on a wall. This once allowed luggage to be carried from the coach roof directly into the upper rooms used by guests.

Arkholme now off the beaten track was another important stop on a route from Kirkby Lonsdale and Lancaster. At one time the village earned its living from its farming, basket making and river fishing but only the former remains. In Norman times the river was controlled by a motte and bailey castle. In 1279 Edward I granted a weekly market to be held at 'Erghum' which specialised in the sale of hemp and flax. The name means "of the pastures" which is still true today.

Visitors look in vain for a war memorial because although the population was around 400 Arkholme's soldiers all returned home, a very unusual event in the First World War.

The Bay Horse is the only pub but also look out for the Methodist Chapel which used to be another hostelry. Here is a Methodist’s victory over the demon drink.

Kirkby Lonsdale is one of those ancient market towns which has everything - a vibrant market held every Thursday, good shopping, a wide choice of pubs some of which are old coaching inns and a clutch of restaurants to suit all tastes.

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