Coast to Coast

Day Six – 27th April 2011: Patterdale to Shap – 16.5 miles

This is the day that most say is the most difficult and tiring. We had nearly made it across The Lakes without mishap or bad weather (Loft Beck accepted), surely we would get our comeuppance on Kidsty Pike. But, once again we awoke to a glorious day and it was due to stay like that all day. Everyone else at the White Lion had the same idea as us and had arrived at breakfast early, ready to make a start.

We sorted ourselves out and went over to the General Store to top up on supplies and in no time at all we were crossing the river and heading towards the fell side. The two paths stretched up in front of us, both would end up at the same place; the views were the same so it seemed futile to spend too long making a decision as to which one to take. About halfway up we could look down on Old Water View. No doubt Liz and Jon would now be getting up and getting ready to go home.

In a strange way the thought of going home appealed to me, it just came into my head in an instant. Why, I don’t know. I was certainly enjoying myself immensely and we hadn’t even completed a third of the mileage yet. All I can put it down to was the apprehension of the miles we had to cover that day and then even more miles the next day. It could also have been that I had enjoyed their company and now we were leaving them behind, almost a home sickness type of feeling. I had been concerned about Kidsty Pike weather wise but there was no problem on that particular day. In fact that day was to end up being probably the best day I have ever had in The Lakes. We turned to continue uphill again and the negative thoughts vanished as soon as they had appeared – strange.


Brothers Water

We arrived at Boredale Hause, suitably sweating buckets and all before 10.00am. We continued around Angletarn Pikes and then we were faced with the beautiful sight of Angle Tarn, shimmering in the sunlight and such a deep blue, which mirrored the sky.


Angle Tarn

We met up with quite a big group, who, although going our way, weren’t doing the Coast to Coast. Their dog was having a whale of a time, charging about all over the place. We had seen others coming up from Patterdale earlier but couldn’t recognise anybody. We climbed up and around Satura Crag where the route finding was a little difficult. We noticed a couple of walkers that had actually taken a path over the top of the crag and then cut across to join the correct path. The ground then dropped away downhill before climbing once again quite sharply to The Knott with Hayeswater down to the right.

Just before, where the path turns almost back on itself, we stopped for our first break. We felt in pretty good shape so far and only had the final pull up to the summit of Kidsty Pike to do but this was quite tame. We sat and looked back across to the whole of Lakeland, tooth edge ridge after ridge giving way to more rounded peaks on the flanks. Another couple who had also stopped for a breather were in quite an animated discussion as to which was Helvellyn. I was fairly sure neither of them was right but in fairness there were a lot to choose from. Knowing that we still had a lot of miles to go we decided to press on just as Gary and Sam came into view.


Kidsty Pike


Haweswater

We chatted and then walked with them to the summit of Kidsty Pike where they decided to have their break whereas we would press on. The summit was a lovely spot. Not a cloud in the sky and absolutely no wind. It was hard to imagine the 100mph winds that others have experienced on this spot and I was so grateful that we could witness the softer side of this peak.


View towards Shap from Kidsty Pike


Summit of Kidsty Pike

The waters of Haweswater Reservoir beckoned and so we bid Gary and Sam goodbye and began the long downhill plod, and it is a long way! We passed a couple of walkers heading upwards for the summit and we definitely had the better deal. It was hot and they were, shall we say, losing a lot of fluid. On the final slope down to the shore we nearly stood on a lizard that was basking on the path.


Lizard


Haweswater

The walk along the shore was pleasant enough and the 4 miles didn’t seem too bad to us although many find it boring. Shortly we reached, as the guide book said, an ‘annoyingly steep ascent’. And it was annoyingly steep. Once at the top we decided that it would make a good spot to have our second rest of the day. A good flat large rock was the ideal resting place and so we took off our boots and socks and aired them. It was a good place to stop and the view looking both ways up the valley with the deep blue coloured water, was lovely. The water level was still too high for us to see any remains of the flooded village of Mardale. We could see Gary and Sam coming towards us along the shore and eventually they joined us at the top and they too took another rest for a few minutes to catch their breath.


Haweswater


Haweswater

The rest of the walk along Haweswater was uneventful and quite pleasant. We got to Measand Forces which was a bit of a let down, probably due to the lack of water. Just before the dam, the path we were on had a few puddles that looked rather black and murky. It wasn’t until we stopped and looked properly that we realised that they were full of tadpoles. There was only just enough water to contain them all so with the weather being so warm, the puddles would surely dry up before too long. I just hope the tadpoles had enough time to grow some legs and waddle off to the reservoir before then. We caught up with Gary and Sam at Burnbanks and walked with them all the way to Shap. We crossed the fields having Haweswater Beck for company until we turned uphill and through more fields. We came across a farmers’ wife who asked us to detour around a barn as one of her lambs had lost its mum and was going frantic. We duly obliged. A couple of fields later at a stile dividing two grazing fields we met a couple having a break. They told us that going through Burnbanks they got chatting to a resident who then invited them into her home and brewed them a pot of tea, what a nice thing to do.

We stopped for a wee which allowed Gary and Sam to go on. We made our way through some gorse to Rosgill Bridge only to see that Gary and Sam had cut the corner off, or so we thought. We checked with the map and realised that they were on private property although going in the right direction. By now they were out of earshot so we left them to it. We crossed the packhorse bridge and up the hill to the ruined farm where we caught them up. Sam was using Stedman’s guide book, as we were, but Gary was using a GPS and no maps. At Rosgill Bridge Gary’s GPS had told him to go through the farm rather than the correct path. We were to find out later that Gary was in IT and so understandably he put his trust in technology. It wouldn’t be the last time it would let him down though.

The four of us caught up with another group as we approached Shap Abbey. We were all starting to flag a bit now and so we very quickly agreed that seeing the Abbey from a distance was sufficient and so continued on towards Shap.


Shap Abbey

The group had already set off and were ahead by about 100 yards or so. Stupidly, and in my book a cardinal sin when walking, we blindly followed them without checking the map. After heading in what felt the wrong way along a field we stopped and decided to consult the map. We were going the wrong way. Gary’s GPS was pointing in the right direction but not along rights of way. We doubled back and rejoined the correct road. It had only cost us 10 minutes and a couple of hundred yards but I was annoyed that it had happened. This was a timely lesson to check and double check, even when very tired, as that is exactly when mistakes in route finding happen. We continued on the road all the way to Shap, the tarmac sapping the last remaining ounces of energy we had. As we turned in to the A6 and Shap proper we knew that we had another mile to go. Our B&B for the night was the Greyhound pub which is one of the last buildings in Shap. It did have one advantage in addition to the fact that it was the best pub in Shap, and that was that a footpath that goes alongside the pub joins the Coast to Coast path without doubling back through the village. It would give us a head start in the morning on our 20 miler to Kirkby Stephen. But before we got there we needed to stock up on supplies for the next day. The Co-op was about halfway along the main street so we would have had to back track half a mile if we didn’t do it that evening. Supplies purchased, we walked the last half a mile to the Greyhound Hotel.

On the way we passed a collection of people who were waiting, as it transpired, for a cyclist doing John O’Groats to Lands End. Just as we got to them there he was arriving having just completed his leg for the day, I hope he made it all the way.

We made it to the Greyhound and found our room which was as we had hoped, a refurbished one overlooking the fells. We could just make out Kidsty Pike in the distance. It seemed unbelievable that we had walked that far and we had to remind ourselves that Kidsty Pike wasn’t that far off from being only half way.


Greyhound Hotel Shap

The heating was on in the room as well as the towel rail so we took the opportunity to do a few bits of washing, erecting our washing line of spare boot laces again before showering and getting ready for something to eat. The food didn’t disappoint and it was a good end to the day, all washed down with the local brew. We were joined by a couple from the Midlands, and after a bit of small talk soon found out that he had spent a lot of time in our neck of the woods down south, walking around our old haunts.

We reflected on having completed the ‘worst’ day. But was it? It was a tough day but probably the best days walking I have ever done. It had been fantastic weather, on occasions too hot but we were not going to moan about that. There was absolutely no way the Essex Three would have made it, they made the right decision to bale out. But we felt in good shape, yes tired but not exhausted, ready for 20 miles the next day? – bring it on!

Sleep came very easy that night.

 

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