DAY FIVE – PATTERDALE TO SHAP – 16 MILES
TUESDAY 12 JUNE
I always knew that today was going to be a bitter-sweet kind of day. Sweet, because I would be walking in my favourite part of the Lake District – the Far Eastern Fells, but bitter, because by the end of the day I knew that I would have left my beloved Lake District behind, and the most beautiful and challenging walking with it.
I woke up for the first time to see some blue sky and sunshine, and although it clouded up during the day, the cloud remained above the fells and the sun came out from time to time. It was by far the best weather up to this point.
After breakfast I set off on the trail. The first section I knew very well, as I have walked many times on different fell walks in the area. The first section was a fairly steep climb up to Boredale Hause.
I met a couple of C2Cers who started on the same day as me, but I hadn’t met before, but there was no sign initially of the usual gang. There were beautiful views over the Patterdale valley.
Looking up the valley to Brotherswater.
Looking the other way towards Ullswater.
The white house that you can see to the left of centre is the place where I first fell in love with the Lake District. As you may have read in my initial blog, I stayed there two years running as a teenager and walked the surrounding fells with members of the church youth group. You can see the road going up over Kirkstone Pass in the centre of the photo.
After the inital steep climb, I arrived at Boredale Hause which is a high level walkers’
pass that connects several valley and fells. My path veered off to the right.
Place Fell. I have climb this beautiful fell twice before, but today I am heading in the opposite direction.
A short way along this path I see some walkers up ahead, and I am delighted to see that it is the Cake to Cakers and Manhattan Pete. We walk on together and soon this beautiful view comes into sight.
It is Angle Tarn, which has to be one of my favourite Lakeland tarns. It is such a tranquil place.
Pat thought it would be nice to have a photo of us consulting the map. Of course, it doesn’t looked staged at all, does it!
Shortly after this we reached Satura Crags.
Here we were passed by Sanda and Mick, a couple from south Yorkshire, who had been staying at the same B&B as me. This was their second C2C. They headed on, and as can sometime happen, we followed them, chatting happily among ourselves, until we noticed our path down below us, while we were heading up. Sandra and Mick were heading up to Rest Dodd. We diverted down to the correct path and carried on. Some time later we saw Mick and Sandra now coming up the path behind us. They were easy to spot because they were wearing identical hats and shirts. As they reached us they readily admitted they had taken the wrong path, but had had the compensation of seeing some deer.
Rest Dodd, which we almost climbed by mistake and which we would have had to climb down too.
Some lovely views were opening up back over the western fells behind us.
Our path continued up to the left of The Knott.
Once we rounded The Knott, we saw the magnificent bulk of High Street, with its Roman Road clearly visible. It is amazing to think that 2000 years ago Roman Legionnaires marched across these fells.
But our path headed off to the left to where you see Pat heading.
Now I faced another big decision. The owner of the B&B where I stayed last night had suggested an alternative (in his view) better descent to Haweswater than the one Wainwright suggests. This alternative was to go up to High Raise and on to Wether Hill and descend from there on a path to the far end of Haweswater. The benefit of this route would be to cut out the steep descent from Kidsty Pike and the up and down stretch along the bank of Haweswater resevoir. Sandra and Mick had decided to try this route, and I was contemplating it, but in the end, I decided to stick to the official route with the rest of my little troupe of walkers. You will have to read to the end to find out what happened to Mick and Sandra.
Soon the dramatic summit of Kidsty Pike came into view. This is the highest peak in the whole of the normal route of the C2C at 2559 ft (though I had actually been higher yesterday because of the ascent on the alternative route up St Sunday Crag at 2759 ft). We could see some people were already there, and it turned out to be the Australians: David and Sandra and Bernard.
This being such a significant part of the walk, we stopped for lunch, during which the midges tried to eat us!
There were lovely views all around.
Down to Haweswater reservoir ahead of us. Notice how the country ahead of us is a lot less mountainous. You can see The Pennines in the far distance. These I will cross later in the week.
More photos were taken.
Then we headed down to Haweswater. It was steep, but not as bad as expected. About a third of the way down, we heard the sound of planes, not the fast RAF jets that are a regular feature in the Lakes but two RAF training planes which flew in low over the fells and banked dramatically over Rough Crag towards Blea Water. Sadly, they were gone before I could get my camera out.
Eventually we reached the foot of the fell, and the next stage of the walk began. An hour and half march along the banks of the resevoir, but never very close to its shore.
Hmmm..I wonder if anyone would mind if we borrowed this??
Once we reached the end of Haweswater the scenery really changed. Now we really knew we were leaving the Lake District.
At Burnbanks Pete and I said goodbye to John, Chris and Pat, because they were following a different schedule. Like me, they would be staying in Shap, but walking no further today, as they would tomorrow be walking from Burbanks to Orton, a much shorter day than I have in store. The owner of the place they would be staying would come and collect them and drive them to Shap. We all arranged to meet for a final supper in Shap later that eveing. Peter and I pressed on. It was about 4pm, but we still had another two hours of walking before we would reach Shap. The scenery was very different now.
The final highlight was the beautiful ruins of Shap Abbey, built in the 13th Century and dissolved by Henry VIII in 1540. A walk through a few more fields brought us to the outskirts of Shap.
We had been walking for nine hours, with only a 20 minute break for lunch. Both Pete and I were pretty tired as we staggered into Shap.
After a shower, I joined John, Chris, Pat, Pete, Luke and Bernard in the pub for meal. I won’t get to walk with them anymore, because they are on a more leisurely itinerary than me tomorrow, and I will always be a day ahead of them from now on. It has been wonderful walking with them all. They are really great people, we have had great fun, good walking and lots of laughs. I will miss them.
So, the Lake District is now behind me, and I have completed the first third of the walk. Now I enter the middle third as I approach the Yorkshire Dales. There will be no scenery ahead as dramatic and stunning as the Lakes, but from this point on, until I reach Robin Hood’s Bay, everything will be new to me. I am sure there will be much of interest and beauty to see in the coming days.
In the end, the Lakes were kind to us. I only got one real soaking, in the last hour of the first day. It could have been much worse!
In the pub, John told me that they had met Mick and Sandra in a pub in Bampton. They had been unable to find the alternative route down to Haweswater and had to come off the fells via Bampton. They were contemplating getting a taxi to Shap. I’m glad that I stuck to the Kidsty Pike route. I would have been gutted if the same thing had happened to me!