For the first time I will exhibiting at Arkholme Book Fair on 23rd June. It is a very pretty spot, easier to get to than one might think, especially if you're anywhere near the M6 in the north of England as it is about 15 minutes from junction 35 of the M6. Or, about an hour from Skipton if you're coming from this part of Yorkshire: A65 to Kirby Lonsdale and turn left on the B6254.
In the light of its relatively little known merits I thought I'd ask Mr J, with his heritage and landscape writer's hat on, to give you a taste...
Book lovers considering visiting Arkholme Book Fair might ask themselves (if they have never been before) just where this little known village is, and what are the nearby highlights. After all, after a few hours perusing hundreds of wonderful books, what better than to explore the locale?
Arkholme is in Lunesdale, the Lune Valley, between the cobbled yards of Kirkby Lonsdale (a few miles upstream) and the historic port of Lancaster (downstream). Arkholme itself is a little gem. Its main street lies away from the busy traffic on the B6254 Carnforth to Kirkby Lonsdale road, and so the village is an oasis of calm and serenity. Barns, farm houses and cottages sit cheek by jowl with Victorian mansions and modern homes in as pleasing a mixture of styles as you could want, and the whole ensemble culminates in Arkholme's neat little parish church with a Norman motte – a large earthwork designed to repel invaders – standing in the church yard. The main street then spills out onto the fields of the Lune flood plain to a spot where, in former years, the river was forded and the road continued on to Melling and beyond. It's a charming place, and no mistake.
Hornby, a mile or two away, has another ancient earthwork – Castle Stede. This is an example of a Norman motte and bailey castle, with a great mound piled up to guard what once would have been a wooden palisade with a tower to guard the river crossing at Loyn Bridge. Nowadays the site is crowned with a rather incongruous World War II pill-box, but in the Middle Ages it formed part of a system of such forts across Lancashire and beyond. The village of Hornby possesses Hornby Castle which saw action in the English Civil War, but it was extensively remodelled in the Victorian period to give it the romantic aspect it enjoys today.
Upstream at Kirkby Lonsdale visitors gaze from the parapet of Devil's Bridge to the triangular cut-waters below where the Lune babbles beneath three mighty arches. This is the last gasp of the Westmorland Lune; only a few yards downstream, past the rocks where summer visitors bask, the river enters Lancashire and becomes a broad and majestic presence in the landscape as it meanders through a scene of pastoral beauty, a typically English patchwork of fields with hawthorn hedges separating pastures, lanes and copses.
A mile or two away are the little hamlets of Over Burrow and Nether Burrow. Here, two millennia ago, stood the Roman settlement of Calacum, now no more than tell-tale marks on the ground. For centuries historians and antiquarians had no knowledge of this busy Roman station. Indeed, all that remained was the lore of the local people which insisted that on this spot stood “a city”. No doubt many a sophisticated urban intellectual laughed at the fairy stories of these backward Lancastrian farming folk. Until someone tested the theory with spade and trowel that is!
So Arkholme is set in a fascinating area, full of beauty and history. As you drive to the Book Fair, don't ignore its lovely setting. Lunesdale is a charming spot, well worth a visit. Perhaps make a weekend of it!
Arkholme Book Fair is on 23rd June, 10am-4pm and you may download a complimentary ticket here. The full address is Arkholme Village Hall, Arkholme, Carnforth, Lancashire LA6 1AT.
Photo credits (copyright for the photos remains with the photographers): the first two, showing Arkholme church and then Hornby Castle, are by Matthew Emmott. Matthew blogs on castles, towers and fortified houses in Westmorland and Cumberland and you can visit here.
The last photograph is by my fellow bookseller and PBFA member Brigid Irwin of The Book House. Brigid organises the Arkholme Book Fair on behalf of us all and you can browse previous years' photos on her website here.