Saturday, May 25, 2013

Day 6 - Patterdale to Shap

This was the walk I was dreading because it is reputedly the most difficult and tiring of the entire trip. You can see a map of the walk here. I finished up walking 18 miles and climbing and descending 2000 feet.

This blog is quite long because I have included most of the photos I took. This walk is a marathon effort so viewing the results should take a bit of work too.

Because I bought the socks and had to go back for my pole, it was almost 10 am before I departed.

That is Lake Ullswater in the background. It is reputedly the most beautiful lake in the Lake District and  was where Wordsworth saw the daffodils growing that inspired the poem.

Up the hill from the B and B where I had stayed the night before.

Looking back to the lake at Patterdale.

Notice how rocky the path is.

I think it was snow in the distance.

It can be boggy up here as well as in the valleys. Most walkers avoid the muddy bits by leaving the path and walking on the grass.

I was walking well in my new socks and was actually catching up on some other walkers. This extra speed did not last since I started to get tired with the constant climbing. Old codger syndrome.

The views are fabulous.

Look how steep some of the slopes are up here.

Did I mention that it was really windy up here? It was blowing a gale and it was definitely cold. For me the path went off to the left about 100 yards ahead but others were continuing up the hill straight ahead. The GPS on my Android phone and the View Ranger app has worked very well and it is so much easier to use than getting out a map that flaps around in the breeze.

Occasionally I would miss a turn but the GPS soon showed me I was on the wrong track.

Climbing up to the highest point on the walk. 2600 feet.

Up at the top. It was incredibly windy so I did not linger other than to take a photo.

Haweswater Reservoir.  I had to descend down to water level to walk along the left ( north ) side.

Yes, I had descended down this mess. It probably about a quarter mile of descent but it took me an hour. A slip would have been disastrous. Fortunately I made it down and finally reached the grassy area at the bottom of the rocks. While I was adjusting my load I then managed to fall over. No damage.

Some of these steep grassy descents are very hard on the feet and knees.

Of course there were numerous water falls flowing quickly into the lake.

Most Coast to Coast walkers have a copy of a book by Steadman that is the best guide to the walk. It describes this ascent of a hill beside the reservoir  as 'annoyingly steep'. A spot on description I can tell you. 

I don't carry the whole book with me. I tear out the pages I need for the day to save weight.

By this time I had renamed the body of water 'Lake Endless'. The lake curves and you can't see the far end and so it seems the end will never come.

By now I was dragging and younger walkers seemed to be speeding past. When I look at the stats however, I was doing over two miles per hour and sometimes almost three miles per hour.

Looking back up the reservoir.

Somebody was growing poles. Grapes? I doubt it because it would get pretty cold up here.

The dam comes into view at last. The lake is about four miles long.

The C to C sign is significant. Up in the hills of Cumbria, they don't believe in putting up signs to help you find the way. The theory is that you should not be up there unless you can read a map. Personally I think that view is elitist and potentially dangerous for every walker. It is so easy to miss a turn, even for experienced walkers. In any case, a working GPS with the path laid out gets rid of the need to use a paper map. I carry a battery powered backup as well as paper backup. The ideal would be two GPS's in case one failed.

Initially I thought I was getting close to the end. However there were still another six miles to go.

Try climbing over this after walking 13 miles.

Some kind soul had provided an insulated box with cold drinks inside. It was an honesty box and my pound was well spent on a Schweppes Lemonade. I still had water but the cold fizz was wonderful.

Slimy weeds in the creek.

I love the look of these banded cattle.

A sign pointing the way on a board that helps you climb over fences.

Somebody's driveway, part of the Coast to Coast walk. The grass in the middle was so beautifully soft to walk on.

The ruins of Shap Abbey in the distance.

I was too worn out to stop and explore.

Finally, Shap appears as you come over a hill.

The northern end of the longest street in the world that day.

I came in at the northern end and my B and B was the last house at the southern end. The distance was about a mile. The time was now 7:30 pm and the very nice old lady who runs the place was starting to get worried about me.

She brought me a cold beer. I was not very hungry because I had purchased a packed lunch at Patterdale before I set off. There were two huge sandwiches and I kept one for later in the day which I ate about 5:30 pm so I would not have to go out for dinner.

The train line from London to Glascow lies about thirty yards behind the house but good insulation blocked out most of the noise. That night I slept well. It had been an incredibly hard day.


  1. Wow, it might have been the toughest day but it looks like the most beautiful, too. And the sun was shining!
    Something for walkers to think about, choosing a B and B on the near end of town after walking 18 miles.

  2. Stunning! And so many different views! At least it was a nice day for it.