The Lune Valley is an undiscovered gem lying between two National Parks, the Yorkshire Dales and Lake District. The area has a rich and proud heritage, even its name ‘LUNE’ resonates, with its origins in the language of the Romano-British… meaning clean / pure…
The sixty-five mile course of the River Lune begins at Dale Ghyll and meanders through to its final destination as it empties into the vast expanses of Morecambe Bay.
This most majestic of valleys has long been revered… J.M.W. Turner painted its scenes, poet Thomas Gray who encapsulated it in words and Victorian thinker John Ruskin eulogised about it saying: ‘I do not know in all my own country, still less in France or Italy, a place more naturally divine’.
This would lead you to believe the Lune Valley has always been a tranquil, picturesque landscape untouched by the ravages of industrialisation.
Yet appearances can be very deceptive… For centuries the valley has been the main western route between England and Scotland. Here Iron Age men roamed, Romans marched, Vikings pillaged, the Scots raided and Kings sent their armies both north and south.
Historic towns, industrial heritage, ancient customs and much more all combine to make the Lune Valley a wonderful place to explore. And here industry once played its part too… with extensive coal mining and quarrying and all the major settlements along the Lune and its tributaries housed textile mills engaged in spinning.
Cowan Bridge itself is no exception, with coal mines and a railway and once home to a girls school, now known as Bronte Cottages, which just may give you a clue as to the identity of several of the alumni… two of the 19th century’s greatest literary icons Charlotte and Emily Bronte.
The Clergy Daughters’ School was founded in 1823 by the Rev Carus Wilson to educate daughters of financially disadvantaged clergymen. Later moving to Casterton in 1833, after a good deal of scandal in the aftermath of the death of several pupils (who are buried at St Peter’s, Leck). You can read more about this in Charlotte’s acclaimed novel Jane Eyre, the school features as ‘Lowood’, and she also based her character Robert Brocklehurst on Carus Wilson…
Today, however, you will find unspoiled scenes with ancient villages, historic churches and winding lanes, tumbling streams and wooded valleys, wild moors and lowland pastures belying the area’s now hidden past… So tarry a while, savour beautiful vistas and escape the hubbub of the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales in this hidden gem of a place… a place that is clean and pure.