Once again, we were up fairly early, as we had read that our day’s walk to Shap would be more arduous than it appeared on the map! The day would cover the best part of sixteen miles. It would take us down from the eastern edge of the Lake District to farmland and meadow; and yet the cumulative climb for the day was going to be over 1,300 metres!
As we climbed away from the farmsteads and grand houses on the outskirts of Patterdale, we fell into step with a couple of Lancashire lads: one from Leigh, short in stature, bespectacled; and one from Hindley, built like a middleweight boxer, and with an accent as thick as hotpot. Their repartee helped us forget the fact that we were climbing steadily through an area known as Patterdale Common. They were obviously pretty fit, as they could walk this terrain and talk at the same time! The climb eased at a plateau, Boredale Hause, which is some 350 metres above sea level.
The rest of the morning was spent moving in a south-easterly direction over high land. We skirted the eerily beautiful Angle Tarn above its north and eastern shores. The morning was cloudy and the views were limited. We could see Hayeswater (not to be confused with Haweswater, which we will come to in 2-3 miles) and its gill in front and below us. Looking back beyond Patterdale, our Lancashire friends pointed out Helvellyn and St. Sunday Crag. But we couldn’t see Pillar looming over Ennerdale, as our guidebook suggested that we might.
All the time we were gently climbing. This became a little more intense as we reached a landmark, shrouded in mist swirling around dry-stone walls, known as the Knott. From here we descended and took a path to the left to reach Kidsty Pike. This turned out to be an unprepossessing clump of rocks on the summit of which were a bunch of Coast-to-Coasters enjoying their lunch. Unbelievably, this is the highest point on the C2C, if, like ourselves, one had not availed oneself of one of the higher altitude by-ways. The pinnacle of our two-and-a-bit -week sojourn was being hogged by a flock of sandwich-munchers! We didn’t feel miffed for long. Our path was now descending steadily eastwards, and in the middle-distance, we could see a herd of rusty deer gracefully on the move. As we walked towards them, they accelerated, and disappeared down a narrow dale.
Continuing east, we ambled along the ridge away from Kidsty Pike. At Kidsty Howes, the descent became much more precipitous, the path taking us between and over boulders. It was quite a scramble. The sun was beginning to emerge, and in front of us was the beguiling sight of the southern end of Haweswater Reservoir. We found a rocky outcrop upon which to lunch, take in the view, and sun ourselves.
Our break was brief. We were all too aware that we had a good eight miles to walk before reaching Shap, and it was now after 2p.m. And indeed, although the weather was sunny and warm, and although the views were wonderful, the hike up the west side of Haweswater was hard work! The path was rocky and uneven; it climbed onto promontories; it dipped into the narrow valleys of streams tumbling into the reservoir.
We were glad to reach the hamlet of Burnbanks, beyond the dam at the northeastern extent of the reservoir. In the centre of this little community, a gentleman stepped out of a car and asked us if we had seen or been passed by two runners. We had indeed passed a couple of lads who were making haste, but in the opposite direction. Our gentleman was providing support for two young men who were hoping to cover the St. Bees to Robin Hood’s Bay route in 72 hours! One of the two was his son. We could sense his anxiety. We reviewed the itinerary; he told us that he had made ‘phone contact with them two hours beforehand when they had been in Patterdale. We expressed the opinion that it would take at least two-and-a-half hours to reach Burnbanks unless they had sprouted wings! We wished him well; we had to carry on.
The going was now much easier. We walked through woodland, and by a bridge crossing Haweswater Beck, we were delighted to find an honesty box. This was the first retail outlet since Patterdale! We bought chocolate bars and drinks, and merrily skipped across the meadows adjacent to the beck.
By now, the clouds had once again closed in. When the beck veered north, we continued eastwards climbing onto moorland, before heading south-east when we reached the valley of the River Lowther. This brought us to Shap Abbey, where we found some desultory but persistent drizzle.
Togged up in our wet-weather gear, we continued into the small town of Shap. Besides the drizzle, I was distracted by my mobile ‘phone. I had downloaded the OS Maps App in the hope that I could record our daily walks so that ultimately, they would appear on this website. I hope you agree, dear reader, but this seems to have worked pretty well! One downside to this is that the recording of a route eats up ‘phone battery. At this stage, approaching the outskirts of Shap, we had been on the road for nigh on 9 hours, and the battery was down to its last few per cent. I was worried that if the ‘phone lost power completely, I might lose what I had recorded thus far. So, when the ‘phone charge dipped to 2%, I switched it off – just as we were passing the “Welcome to Shap” sign.
So, unrecorded, we continued south through the town, which by and large is linear, hugging the old A6. The Co-op was open, and we bought a daily paper. Our resting place for the night was to be The Kings Arms, situated at the southern end of town – a rather gaunt and boxy stone built construction, but very welcoming and friendly. It was knocking on seven o’clock when we entered, and so our first duty was to order our evening meal. This proved to be very good – chickpea and sweet potato curry.
A good day’s walk, but now we were tired out. Julia went to bed, whilst I stayed up to dose through the opening game of the Euro 2016 football tournament.