The River Ribble

by David Murray on 21 August 2015

in Ribble Valley, Rivers

This was intended to be a much more extensive post but problems with my desktop computer mean that I seem to have lost the images from photo sessions at Sawley and Ribchester. Here, though, is a recent picture of the much “younger” Ribble at Gargrave. Hopefully I’ll recover the others and expand this into a longer piece in the near future

The Ribble at Gargrave

A photo posted by David Murray – Eden Valley (@davidmurray43) on

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Ash Fell to the Howgills by Ravenstonedale

I’m still trying to get a decent photograph of the Howgills from the top of Ash Fell. Somehow the weather or the time of day (sun angle) always seems to defeat me. Anyway, here’s my latest and despite its inadequacies I’m using it here to illustrate “Twixt Eden and Lune”.

The Eden and the Lune are the two main rivers of this part of the country, the Lune flowing south and west while the Eden runs north and west. Here at Ravenstonedale is the divide between Lunesdale (or Lonsdale) and the Eden Valley. The streams through Ravestonedale village join and flow as Scandal Beck into the Eden. Anything to the west joins the Lune.

Ravenstonedale Town Head to Wild Boar Fell

Actually Ravenstonedale needs to be thought of in two different ways. It is a village, but it is also an extensive parish. The parish spans the watershed and supplies both rivers. My second photograph for today (above) is taken from Town Head, at the top of the village, and looks out over that part of the parish to the east, toward Wild Boar Fell where Scandal Beck has its source. The image below is from close to the A683 Kirkby Stephen to Sedbergh road looking up toward Will Boar Fell in the background.

Scandal Beck flowing down from Wild Boar fell

This is fantastic walking country. The combination of the Howgills and the Upper Eden Valley attracts many who love tramping over the lesser known areas of our beautiful country. You don’t find the Lake District crowds here. There are no day trips to Mallerstang, except of course those passing through on the scenic Settle-Carlisle railway line (which has a station at Kirkby Stephen if you’re wondering how to get here without a car).

Kirkby Stephen centre

Some people may choose to stay in Kirkby Stephen, the local “walkers’ town” (above) or in Sedbergh, England’s “book town” at the southern end of the Howgills, but there’s accommodation in Ravestonedale itself and with the Black Swan (below) and the King’s Head there’s no reason to go short of amazing food at the end of the day.

Ravenstonedale Black Swan

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The Howgills are much less well known than many of the Cumbrian fells, and yet they’re more accessible than most, being close to the M6 motorway and the towns of Sedbergh and Kendal. Their western slopes are right alongside the motorway as it passes through the Lune Gorge between Junctions 37 and 38.

Howgills Cumbria

The Howgills from the west, viewed across the M6 motorway through the Lune Gorge

Getting to the Howgills

I suppose that most people coming up from other parts of England to Cumbria for an holiday drive up the M6 and either leave at Junction 36 near Kendal for the southern and central lakes such as Windermere and Grasmere or continue a little further up to J40 at Penrith en route to Ullswater, Derwentwater or the Western Lakes. Leaving at J37 and heading east one quickly comes to the small town of Sedbergh (officially a “book town”) and around it is a world of rural quiet very different from the bustling centres of the Lakeland tourist honeypots.

From Sedbergh head out on the road toward Kirkby Stephen and the Eden Valley. As you go north up the valley of the River Rawthey the eastern slopes of the Howgills are on the left.

Cautley Spout Howgills Cumbria

Looking toward Cautley Spout from Cautley in August

The Howgills in Winter

Below is a 2015 winter scene with Cautley Spout, a long cascade of water crashing down the fellside – in fact England’s longest.

Cautley Spout and the Howgills in Snow

The Howgills and Cautley Spout – a Winter scene

The Howgills from the North

I was looking just now to see whether I’d ever written anything here about the Howgills in the past. The answer is almost nothing. In June 2012 I posted a few photographs of the Upper Lune Valley and one of them shows the Howgills from the north as a range of hills against the distant skyline. I promised then to get some better shots. It’s past time I kept my promise so here’s at least a provisional offering, a snowy scene from this past week.

Howgills Ravenstonedale Cumbria Winter

The Howgills from the North (near Ravenstonedale) in Winter

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In my last post here I announced the planned resurrection of the “Around-England” sites after a year’s unavoidable hiatus. Today, then, we start an “East Lancashire season” by referring briefly to a few of the area’s many interesting places in which a visitor (or for that matter a local) can spend enjoyable hours.

“East Lancashire”. This area, from Blackburn, Darwen and the Rosssendale Valley to Accrington, Burnley, Nelson and Colne used to be a textile production powerhouse. There were pits producing coal for the mills, tall smoking mill chimneys, and weavers’ shuttles by the tens of thousands clattering away from morning to night. At the same time on the outskirts of the towns and up into the hills and along the river valleys was splendid scenery, and dotted here and there historic country houses, some open to the public.

East Lancashire Industrial Heritage

Today the mill chimneys have gone but newer industries have emerged, especially in the area of aerospace engineering. There are also some excellent industrial museums determined not to lose the memory of the town’s past industrial greatness.

The Lancashire textile industry differed considerably from town to town. In particular there was a marked distinction between a spinning town and a weaving town. At Helmshore Mills they spun cotton into thread that then was woven in weaving mills such as Queens Mill, Burnley.

Towneley Hall - Burnley - East Lancashire

Towneley Hall, Burnley, East Lancashire – April 2012

Two East Lancashire Country Houses

I’ve mentioned Towneley Hall several times in the past and am currently planning a further much longer article with additional photographs. Gawthorpe Hall, now in the care of the National Trust, also provides a most interesting half-day visit especially if you’re interested in textile arts.

These two houses, on opposite sides of Burnley, are full of history relating not only to the immediate area but also on a national scale.

Ancient History – Romans in Lancashire

Go a few miles out of the industrial towns to the banks of the River Ribble and you reach a centre of ancient Roman history. There was a fort at Ribchester which is now remembered in a museum of Roman times.

… and there’s more …

There’s plenty to keep you interestingly occupied in East Lancashire. The places listed above are given only for starters. Outdoors there’s good walking as well as picnic spots around the river valleys and up into the hills. You can wander round historic abbey ruins and sit in the sun at Whalley and Sawley. Wycollar Country Park includes the quaint old village, beautiful on a sunny day. Indoors there are excellent museums in Accrington and Blackburn, there’s the Pendle Heritage visitor centre at Barrowford, and the castle at Clitheroe. We’ll look in greater detail at more of these over coming weeks.

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Change Comes to Around-England

November 15, 2014

After 6½ years here online Around-England is to become the central hub of a small galaxy of websites, both existing and new. Following something of a hiatus from mid-2013 until recently (due to health issues) I am now in the process of reviving my entire network of North of England websites. All are being relaunched […]

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Around-England is now in Kirkby Stephen

October 7, 2014

Kirkby Stephen is a village in the Eden Valley, Cumbria, popular with walkers on the surrounding fells and on the route of the Coast to Coast walk from St. Bees to Robin Hood’s Bay devised by Alfred Wainwright in the early 1970s. It is now also home to the Around-England web sites. After several years […]

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Wharfedale New Year

August 8, 2014

Although published here in August this item was mostly written back in January. As it was sitting here almost finished I decided to publish it now to revive the Around England site in spite of the long delay. Our New Year outing into Wharfedale actually started in Airedale. The previous day had been wet (an […]

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A Working Steam Driven Cotton Mill – History Alive

July 9, 2013

Personal Note:Regular visitors will have noticed the lack of new articles recently. Shortly after this one was published I suffered the first of a series of mini-strokes. Although there is no permanent brain damage it became very apparent that I was seriously overworking. I’m planning to keep “Around-England” and other sites going but there will […]

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National Park Extensions? Please, Not Yet!

June 4, 2013

Hearings on the proposed extensions of the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales national parks start today. I wrote most of the following on my personal Facebook account earlier this morning and then thought I should put it here too, even though I’m aware that it might well lead to losing some friends. I love both […]

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Terrible Things Happen In Beautiful Places

May 25, 2013

Starting a short walk by Goldrill Beck and Brothers’ Water this afternoon I was stopped in my tracks by this poster. What was such a gruesome image doing in such a beautiful place? The National Trust appears to have concluded that shock tactics are necessary. Far too many sheep and lambs are attacked by dogs […]

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