Patterdale to Shap - Will Copestake - Coast to Coast Day six.
Clambering upward in an already warm morning sun I was soon breaking sweat. Below Patterdale baked in dappled sunlight between woodland and stone walled fields. Stopping for a break and a quick drink at a grassy ledge known as Boredale Hause I looked down over the last view to Ullswater, it is said the lake inspired Wordsworth's poem ‘Daffodils.’
The climb up
Already high above the valley floors the track wound like a thread across the open grassy slopes leading across toward the distant ‘High Street’ peak. Passing close to several Wainwright peaks along its route I decided to make the best of the glorious weather and stride to the cairn of each as I passed.
View from Angletarn Pikes
Winding up the ridge
From the summit of Angletarn Pikes I wandered back on route before passing Angle tarn itself. The upland lake was nestled in a sheltered bowl on the mountain side. Barnacle geese called and flapped atop a small island above the glistening waters, in the heat it was suddenly very inviting.
Strolling to the waters edge I tested it to decide if it was worth a swim, it was warm enough but with the arrival of a large crowd of hikers I decided a quick skinny dip might not be so appropriate. The gradient levelled out for a short stretch along the open uplands, with a short detour via the summit of Rest Dodd I wound upward toward The Knott another small peak ahead in the sun.
View from Rest Dodd
From the small unassuming summit of The Knott I joined the steady stream of fellow hikers and wandered along a now impressively wide mountain trail. Once a roman road the track was wide enough to walk three aside with other walkers and chat along the way. Arriving at the junction between the route down on Kidsty pike and the route up to ‘High Street’ I decided to prolong my time high on the ridge.
Looking back from The Knott
A quick detour to summit High street and return back to the coll took an extra 30 minutes onto the days journey but rewarded with superb views back to the fells to which I had walked over the days before. To my surprise from the summit of High Street I could see the seaside on the west coast for the first time since day one.
View of the coast from High Street Summit
Heading back to the Coll
The wall along the Roman Road
Back on track once more I followed around the edge of a deep corrie to Kidsty pike. The summit at 784m was the highest point on Wainwrights original coast to coast route. From the cairn stunning views back to the northern cliffs and ridges leading from High Street all the way to Haweswater reservoir below.
I glanced around looking hopefully for ‘Golden Boy,’ England’s last remaining Golden eagle which purportedly has its eyrie in a nearby cleft. The only gold I saw was the sun dappled over the ridge descending ahead. It was time to descend to the inviting waters below.
Views from Kidsty Pike
Descending to Haweswater was short but steep and somewhat jarring on the knees after a long ascent. Thankfully the view and warmth radiating from a ground baked by an entire days sunshine meant regular breaks on the way down. Reaching the waters edge the trail forked toward the dam 5km in the distance.
Fellow hikers on the way down
Enjoying the view
On the way down
The last steep section
In 1929 a bill was passed to authorise use of Haweswater as a reservoir to serve Manchester’s increasing demand. With the dam constructed and valley flooded a community was lost to its depths forever. Mardale a small settlement remains to this day submerged beneath the water, including a church of the holy trinity. It was difficult to believe that England’s very own atlantis was just beneath the tranquil surface as I wandered along the undulating track to its side.
There is a village somewhere under there.
A short steep rise brought me over toward a woodland which wound with refreshing shade from the sun toward the dam ahead. To my delight I caught up Steven & Susan yet again and could walk in company for the remaining 4km to the end of the reservoir.
The trail along the lake
Leaving the couple to amble upon their own pace I wandered onward into the rolling fields. Approximately 6km remained to Shap but with almost no ascent it would be a fast walk to reach the end. It was clear I had left the Lake District as I arrived in the small community Burnbanks as signs appeared reading C2C at every turn. Wandering between the homes each resident all of whom were mowing their lawns would stop to stroll over and briefly offer their own advise and well wishes to my journey.
Passing the waterfall Thornthwaite Force I was on the right track, it meandered along a trickling brook into the fields. After the few days in the mountains the open space ahead seemed vast, I found myself enjoying the open skies and endless rolling hills in the distance almost as much as the crags I left behind.
Farmyards replaced mountains
Chasing lambs which hopped in little clusters with springy leaps and bounds I passed a series of barns and clambered over many stiles on stone walls. The length of the day was starting to become apparent as the soles of my feet ached on the hard trail. I continued to follow narrow tracks and coast to coast signs toward Shap Abbey in the distance.
First view of Shap Abbey
Rising from another stone wall I caught my first glimpse of the impressive Shap Abbey nestled in a hollow amongst a small woodland. It was the last Abbey to be founded in England and built in 1199 by the French St.Norbert. Also known as 'The White Canons' the french abbey was dissolved by Henry VIII in 1540. Today only the ruined shell of a once great building stands, never the less its tall walls and beautiful masonry is very impressive. No longer is it guarded by people but instead a troop of chickens which roam free around its base.
Friendly farmer at Shap Abbey
A final kilometre along a narrow road hemmed in with tall stone walls brought me into the little town of Shap. Stretched along a long road it is a pleasant community with an interesting market hall built from the recovered masonry from the Abbey. Arriving at the lively Kings Arms Hotel I rejoined the Australian couple, Steven & Susan to share stories of the day over a cool pint and huge fish and chip supper. We prepared for a long day to Kirkby Stephen in the morning.