Across England on the Coast to Coast walk, part 4

Are you still with us? Dogging our footsteps across England along the famous Coast to Coast trail?

You’ll be relieved to learn that by this tales’ end we will have left the Lakes District and be on flatter ground.

But only after a harrowing 16 mile slog from Patterdale to Shap.

But that’s getting ahead of ourselves.

First there’s the short 7½ mile leg from Wordsworth’s home of Grasmere. As ever there’s scenery to die for.

Heading out of Grasmere

Heading out of Grasmere

It’s one hell of a climb out of Grasmere up to the mountain lake named Grisedale Tarn where the path diverges into several routes, two of which involve even more climbing.

This time, instead of feeling honour-bound to take the higher harder route on from the tarn, we cheerfully decide on the relatively gentle and downward slope into Patterdale, a walk of around two hours. Once there we head straight for the pub. Me for a pot of tea and John for a pint of the local beer.

Cup of tea at Patterdale hotel

Patterdale sits in a valley. A valley that RAF jets streak along practicing low level flying. We know because as we sat there contemplating the view and quiet two of them startled the bejesus out of us as they flashed past. After that bit of excitement we found our B&B for the night, an old school house decorated in the Balinese style. Have a look at our bed!

I seem to remember saying in my first post that we had two shattering days during the walk. Well, it’s a good thing we had a good night’s rest because the first is coming up! The Lakes definitely don’t want you to easily forget them!

After a lovely breakfast during which we were waited on by our hosts we were again on our way. Up and over yet another mountain, Kidsty Pike, one of the highest points on the walk. In the next photo I’m pointing in its general direction.

We know today is going to be hard because the guide book says so. It also says there are no villages, pubs, tea houses or toilets between us and Shap, our next stop 16 miles away. So, it says, be prepared for a slog of a day.

Kidsty Pike is the only mountain we have to climb and the guide book diagram shows the rest of the way is relatively level. I say relatively, because all of those little bumps in the drawing mean you’re going either up or down the entire way.

Kidsty Pike, the highest point in the original C2C walk

Kidsty Pike behind me

By the time you’ve scrambled, slipped and slithered your way down the shingly descent from Kidsty Pike to Haweswater Reservoir—which serves Manchester—you’re ready for a bit of easy travelling.

Forget that!

Haweswater Reservoir

Haweswater Reservoir

I couldn’t describe the next several hours better than the guide book so it’s over to its authors who say this is no …

… amble while spinning your dainty parasol … Soon you’re panting like a hippo on a treadmill high above the shore.

All while gritting your teeth because your toes are screaming from the downhill descent.

It’s at the further end of the reservoir we say goodbye to the Lakes District and start seeing the occasional C2C signpost. There follows several miles of fording streams, crossing stiles and negotiating bogs in lush lowlands before reaching the next landmark, the ruins of Shap Abbey.

Shap Abbey

Here you think, WooHoo, nearly there! You’re not. There’s still an hour or so to go. We recklessly eschewed the offer of a lift into town from some passing locals. No, we said, thanking them, but we feel that would be cheating. We must walk. Good grief, we thought afterwards, will we never learn!!

By the time we reached Shap, a long narrow village that pretty well lines the road, we were knackered and in need of a lie down.

Does it look like the sign is holding me up?

Does it look like the sign is holding me up? Believe me, it is!

As ever on this walk our accommodation had been pre-booked so it was just a matter of finding it. Which we did at the end of the village.

New Ing Lodge has a variety of room types as well as camping out the back. We were lucky enough to score the only room with an ensuite. At this stage of the game, lining up to use the shower and toilet would have been more than we could handle.

Next time we make it to the Pennines.

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