Sunday, 10 July 2011

Coast to Coast - Sunday 10th July - Day 5 - Patterdale to Shap, 16 miles

Today was a day for milestones. Not only would we be leaving the Lake District but also reaching the highest point of the whole trek on the summit of Kidsty Pike, at 2,560ft above sea level. First, after breaking camp, we were faced with a walk back into the village for provisions before we started the walk proper, which added an extra half mile to the days total. 
Alan takes Mike & Sue's photo in Patterdale
We arrived at the village store as the owners were just opening up and watched as they wheeled out rack after rack of merchandise onto the pavement outside of the shop. Unlike some places we had passed through, the owners of this well stocked shop certainly knew which side their bread was buttered as it proved an Aladdin's cave of every requirement a walker could ask for. Besides freshly made sandwiches with numerous different fillings, there were hot bacon and sausage baps, chocolate and cereal bars, all sorts of bottled drinks as well as various items of walking gear. We purchased sandwiches, chocolate bars and drinks for the walk and hot bacon baps for breakfast and sat outside on a bench to eat them as Mike & Sue turned up, fresh from breakfast at the White Lion, where they had spent the night.
Angle Tarn
Soon, we set off and crossed the bridge over the river and picked up the path towards Boredale Hause. The climb to Kidsty Pike is moderately steep but fairly long and soon we were stretched out along the mountain path with numerous other walkers, some doing the Coast to Coast and others just out for a Sunday walk in the fells. The weather was again fine and we had excellent views of the mountains as we passed through Boredale Hause, soon reaching the prettily situated Angle Tarn. This is a popular wild camping spot but there was only one tent in evidence as we skirted around the shore and headed off in the direction of High Street, so called because an old Roman road runs along it's summit.  
Kidsty Pike
The two previous shorter days had certainly helped rest the leg muscles, which had recovered from the first couple of days of carrying the large backpack and I felt in good form with plenty of strength in my legs as we left the High Street path and turned left heading for the angled peak of Kidsty Pike. A few minutes later, we were on the top looking down into Riggindale and up to the surrounding fells. The scene here is one that never fails to impress me and we stopped with Mike & Sue to take in the views and lamented that soon, we would be leaving behind the superb mountain scenery of The Lake District for an altogether gentler terrain.
Haweswater Reservoir
Below, at the end of Riggindale, stood Haweswater Reservoir, our next objective, a path alongside it's shore our route out of the National Park and on to the village of Shap, where we would be spending the night. The reservoir used to be a natural lake until it was dammed to create the reservoir and in the process, flooded the village of Mardale. In times of drought, the village makes a ghostly re-appearance when the water level drops low enough and remnants of walls and buildings can still be seen. Leaving the summit, we descended carefully down the tricky Kidsty Howes rock outcrops before reaching the lakeside path. A lot of Coast to Coasters describe the path as 'boring' but I found it excellent going and we covered the 3.5 miles in good time arriving at the dam at the far end before dropping into the hamlet of Burnbanks where we stopped for a break. As we had approached the lake from Kidsty Pike, we passed a group of girl guides being led up to Kidsty Pike via the route we had just descended and  have to say that I didn't envy them. I have never seen such a dispirited bunch of youngsters as they struggled past us up the very steep slopes behind their leader, almost buried beneath huge rucksacks carrying all sorts of cooking and camping paraphernalia. If ever there was a foolproof method of ensuring that these young girls never set foot in the countryside again, then loading them up like packhorses was surely it.
Thornthwaite Force
As we left The Lakes, the countryside changed immediately and we found ourselves in woodland following streams before passing the impressive Thornthwaite Force waterfall. We now walked through gentler country of fields and pastures and finding our way through these became trickier than on the mountains with  gates and stiles to negotiate. After crossing a packhorse bridge we reached the ruins of Shap Abbey and soon found ourselves in Shap High St. opposite our intended stop for the night. After pitching our tents at New Ing Lodge, we headed into the village and had a meal and a few beers before heading off back to our tents. Tomorrow, we had a long day ahead, a twenty mile hike to Kirkby Stephen. 

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