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At the bottom of each post there is the word "comments". If you click on it you will see comments made by followers, and if you follow the instructions you may also comment and I always welcome that. I have found many people overlook this part of the blog which is often more interesting than the original post!

My blog nick-name is SIR HUGH. I'm not from the aristocracy - my middle name is Hugh which relates to the list of 282 hills in Scotland compiled by Sir Hugh Munro in 1891. I climbed my last one (Sgurr Mor) on 28th June 2009


Sunday, 17 April 2022

Lowgill and the Lune valley

Friday 15th April 2022

Walk 13  The Lune Valley and Howgills - Cicerone Press guide. Dennis and Jean Kelsall

From Lowgill south of Tebay

A mystery at 7:30 am in Arnside.

I tried to buy a pasty from the bakery on the front but they hadn't come out of the oven. Across the road on our splendid pier I saw about fifty folk assembled along its whole length and out onto the road all with mountain bikes. Some sort of event, but exactly what I couldn't imagine considering the nature of our region.

A mile out of the village the whole of the sea front at Sandside was occupied by a line of cars that had obviously been supervised to park nose to nail to maximise the number to be squeezed in. I don't think most of them could have extricated if they had wanted. When I returned later in the afternoon the cars were still there and also again today (Saturday) as I motored back into Arnside again about 1:00 p.m. No sign of any cyclists, and I also wondered where everybody had been able to overnight.

Later I learnt that I had missed the hottest day of the year so far. Up on the edge of the Howgills it was chilly and overcast until mid afternoon.

I parked in the shadow of Lowgill Viaduct (1860.) The line ran from Ingleton via  Kirkby Lonsdale to Sedbergh and then only to Lowgill. It had been intended as the main line north but disputes and politics sealed its fate as today's line was alternatively established. The Low Gill line is now defunct. plus ça change !

After leaving tarmac I crossed the bridge of an unnamed tributary to the River Lune and it was joined by two others at exactly the same spot, an unusual occurrence for three streams together like that.

Climbing steeply up old packhorse lanes I wondered about the travails of the olden day merchants and travellers. Topping out at High House Farm there were good views back down to the Lune Valley and my car a distant white speck. More climbing fpllowed over friendly sheep fields and  stiles to top out on a road now with renewed views back down to the River Line and my return along its banks.

As I was plodding up to the top of that road I met my first person of the day, a runner coming towards me and we both "helloed" as we passed each other. My brother RR who comments here (see his last comment on my previous post to this one) raised a point about the etiquette of meeting others along the way. I wrote my reply but felt it would be better aired here in a post rather than in comments where it is less likely to be seen.

I am not aware of any formal etiquette in those circumstances. I always say "hello" or "hi" to others approaching when in the countryside where such occurrences are usually infrequent and even in villages where meetings are still well spaced out. Conversation beyond that sometimes ensues especially when I recognise the other as someone embarked on the challenge of waking rather than a casual stroller, but I am aware that this can be unsound presumption because if you take the trouble to promote talk you nearly always find that others have something of interest to pass on. Taking that trouble is something I consciously try to develop given half a chance. If the other has a dog that can often lead to more conversation with relevant comments creating an opening to wider ranging chat.

When I throw out a greeting and get no response which does happen now and again I do have a wounded feeling of rebuff mixed with annoyance, so you may bear that in mind with your own encounters unless you delight in pointlessly rebuffing fellow humans.

All this reminds me of a French kind of etiquette: occasions when I have found myself slogging steeply up a road with a heavy pack sweating profusely under merciless Gallic sun and being hailed by the passenger of a passing motorist leaning from the window shouting "Courage!" I was never sure whether that was genuine encouragement, humour, or sarcasm, but prefer to believe it was the first of those.

Back at home a couple of days ago I was walking one of our woodland paths. A woman with a dog was approaching. The dog, a large rough haired mongrel, came tearing up to me barking viciously and continuing aggressively barking at my ankles just short of inflicting injury, but I was not to know if that would happen and I was scared; unfortunately I was not carrying my walking poles. The woman tried to get control and hauled the dog off whilst I was vociferously making my feelings known using language unbecoming of a retired bank employee. "It's because you're a man" was her riposte as she hurried off, keen to get away from her negligent and irresponsible actions, and I was shouting after her "so, am I expected to turn into a woman?" Pretty topical eh?

Back to my walk. I descended on an old track through more sheep pasture and through a farm, over the aforementioned dismantled railway and down to the footbridge over the river Lune. 

The previous bridge was destroyed by Storm Demond in 2015. The bridge was renewed and reopened in 2018, but later that year it was damaged again  The bridge was craned off and repaired in the adjacent field and then craned back on again. There is a really interesting post on the Walkers are Welcome web site with much more detail - well worth a read. CLICK HERE

I walked back along the river mainly on  the Dalesway footpath which I have often declared as one of the top long distance walks in England. This section didn't disappoint 

At one point the way was blocked by huge fallen trees across a steep slope. I ended up bum sliding, removing rucksack and crawling under - it was not easy. A good walk that bodes well for others from this guide

Mysterious army of mountain bikers on Arnside pier at  7:30 a.m.

My car parked st Lowgill viaduct - I departed right on the road opposite. After fifty yards I was off left on footpaths and climbing high above

Three streams joining on their way to the River Lune

Old packhorse lanes

Back down again to the Lune valley

Fallen trees on the Dalesway. A muddy scramble to get through.

Crook of Lune Bridge (not the one near Halton)

Anti-clockwise from Lowgill


  1. Well done Sir Hugh. Another nice walk. The 'greetings' issue has been aired before. Personally I prefer to grant the apparently rude people who ignore greetings the benefit of doubt, on the basis that they are simply in their own zone, oblivious to others. I'm certainly guilty of that sometimes.

  2. Another interesting walk, Cicerone have perfected the guide book genre, after Wainwright that is.
    That railway viaduct is spectacular.
    As for the cyclists is there a coast-to-coast route starting from Arnside?

  3. "so, am I expected to turn into a woman?" - what an excellent response!
    I'm sure I wouldn't have had the presence of mind to come up with that, especially given the circumstances.

  4. Phreerunner - Your tolerant reaction is laudable contrasting with my cynicism - I must mend my ways.
    BC - Years ago I would have scorned at the idea of using a walking guide much preferring to devise my own routes. However, after COUNTLESS years of plodding my own environs, that is within reasonable driving distance, I have been running out of ideas and now find it surprising how much I previously failed to identify.
    John J. - Yes. It is usually me that ends up thinking of the appropriate response several hours later. In this case I have had it all before with variations: "it's because of your trekking poles," it's "because of your hat," and the response can be tailored to match, e.g. "so should I stop wearing a hat - you get your unfortunate dog under control" and so on.

  5. I always say 'hello' or otherwise acknowledge others on the hill with a wave or lift of a walking pole if they are a little bit too far away to hear me. I don't understand why anyone would ignore another walker. I did love your reply to the dog owner as she scurried off - as you say, very topical. I'll update you soon on my experience with OS Mapping and the minor disaster of losing my MM on the Mac!

  6. Afoot - I've kicked OS into touch and continuing with my Windows MM partitioned on the Mac. I am hoping the promised updated version of MM for Mac will be soon available - it sounds promising. I look forward with interest to reading of your MM and OS happenings.

  7. Another interesting walk. Funny that I hear of folk having problems with OS mapping. I must be the only one who has never had any problems with it. It suits me fine and for £20 per annum I will continue with it.

  8. Alan R - I am perhaps coming to the point where I can't be bothered wrestling with new tech anymore and I will try to keep that to th minimum. Memory Map works fine for me except the maps I have are now a bit out of date and from time to time when walking with my friend BC we find minor discrepancies whwre paths have been diverted or new roads constructed. I will wait until the new Mac version arrives and then hopefully get the updated maps as well.

  9. An interesting discussion on etiquette. I have found that the quality of the interaction increases, the more remote the location. Probably due to either meeting like minded souls or the desire for human interaction. I invariably greet most fellow walkers, but I have learned to judge from the degree of eye contact. Those that avoid eye contact, I tend to leave alone.

  10. Tony - I'm not sure if you've been here before but if not welcome to my blog. New commenters are much appreciated. I would be interested to know how you found my blog.

    I agree with your theory of remoteness increasing the likelihood of a more meaningful exchange.

    I had a look at your blog and see that you are on day 105 of a trek round our coast although I couldn't quite work out which parts you have or have not done: one minute in Scotland and the next in the south of England. I reckon 105 days must mean you have done quite a lot. I did 77 days none stop in 2008 (Land's End to John o" Groats.)

  11. Thanks for the welcome. Struggling a little with the format as could not see how to reply so this may appear as a new post.

    I probably read your comments on another round Britain coastal walker's blog, possibly Ruth's?

    My hiking plans are always evolving. I live in Kent so started at Gravesend, walking clockwise, reaching Pembrokeshire. I then found I had time on my hands between the longer hikes, so started walking anti-clockwise on one day trips from home around Essex.

    The most recent change was to make sure that I can hike all year round. Broadly, England and Wales in summer (midge season) and winter. Scotland in spring and autumn. I am just about to start Scotland from Carlisle, next week.

    I will have to take a look at your LEJOG posts.

  12. Tony - Yes. I know and follow Ruth. We had lunch together with her husband (ex) when she walked through Arnside.

    I reckon you have now done enough to provide motivation to go on to the finish, the point of no return?

    I walked my LEJOG before I had started the blog. My daughter hijacked my journal and photos without me knowing and did a self publish book via Lulu Self Publishing and presented it to me on my seventieth birthday. I have published several other similar ones learning from experience. The LEJOG one was really the prototype with its layout and text but it is readable. My books are available on Lulu Self Publishing at a cost under the heading of "Conrad Walks" but if you really want to read the journal I can send you a PDF file readable on screen. Please send me an email address to and I will forward it to you. The file is about 47mb but I have experimented and sent it to myself and it was accepted by my Mac's email.

    Best wishes for you continued encirclement.

    1. Tony and Sir Hugh - I can confirm it’s a good read having read it for the third time a few days ago.

  13. I think this answers the mystery of the mountain bikers:

    I had a most unusual encounter with an owner of a wayward dog who went for me a few weeks ago: they apologised to me! I can't remember the last time that happened, rather than accusing me of some provocation, such as carrying poles. As for the 'It's because you're a man' reasoning: how can it not occur to her that if her dog has an issue with close to 50% of the population, then she needs to keep it on a lead?

    As for greetings, I tend to acknowledge everyone*, whether via a nod or verbally, whether they want me to or not. It's always of mild amusement to make someone say hello when they were clearly intent on ignoring me. (*except when it's a large strung-out group, in which case I inwardly groan as I set about trying to achieve the balance of giving an appropriate spattering of greetings so as not to offend anyone, whilst not sounding like a stuck record.)

  14. Gayle - Thanks for the link. It looks like it could make a good walking route (setting off and finishing from and at home for me.)
    Afoot - Thanks for the review. I've just been looking at it again and hadn't realised how small is the print, an indication of my need for a visit to Specsavers. The later books have larger print and larger photos.

  15. I thought I had a left a comment right at the start - but it has gone

    musings on greetings and etiquette - and was glad to read that you had not so far forgotten yourselves as to actually shake hands - never make the AC if you do that , let alone the Himalayan.
    My father used to do so at the top of climbs and summits, to most peoples' surprise: it will be high fives today, I expect - elbow nudging could be too dangerous on loose ground.
    From the number of comments, it seems to be a common dilemma - like acknowledging other drivers on narrow highland roads (if such still exist - all 'dual' track now) - a finger or a palm ? - a closed fist or the ditch if you don't give way soon enough.

    the other was about Cowperthwaite - I met a man in Hong Kong with that name with whom a conversation (no hand shaking - nor bowing) started the whole train of the business - i gathered he was a northerner but maybe the noise of the railway and M6 drove him east.

    I often look down on that part of the Lune valley and think what an interesting area for walks and maybe picnicking . . .

  16. gimmer - the OS 1:25 displays a red square indicating a camping barn or similar at Cowperthwaite. Further research identifies a holiday cottage, but as you say proximity to motorway din could be off-putting. Also the minor road to the west shows a rather unusual widening at one point. I may not be able to resist going to have a look sometime.

    Was this your man? From Wikipedia: "Sir John James Cowperthwaite, KBE, CMG (Chinese: 郭伯偉爵士; 25 April 1915 – 21 January 2006), was a British civil servant and the Financial Secretary of Hong Kong from 1961 to 1971."

    The Hong Kong connection seems to be too much of a coincidence especially with such an unusual name.