The River Lune begins its journey on the northern slopes of the Howgills, then flows west to Tebay before doing a sharp left near Junction 38 of the M6. It then journeys south along the western slopes of the Howgills before the valley opens out as it flows towards Kirkby Lonsdale.
The Howgill Fells dominate the whole length of the valley with their distinctive rounded profiles - likened by the famous fell-walker, Alfred Wainwright, to "a herd of sleeping elephants" or more poetically by writers Ella Pontefract and Marie Hartley, "...hump-backed hills as sleek as sealskin, reflect the sunlight like shot silk".
The Dales Way runs alongside the River Lune linking up with other footpaths from the Howgill Fells. In many places the river course is rocky and cuts through a gorge deepened during the Ice Age by ice moving from north to south. Its banks are lined by trees and shrubs that tend to screen it to wider views.