Coast to Coast 2006

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The Savage's Coast to Coast Diary
Day Five
Day 5 - 12th August 2006

Shap to Kirkby Stephen (21 miles)

End of Day 5: August 12th, 4.45pm Room Two, Fletcher House, Kirkby Stephen.

I write these updates at the end of the walking day. It’s usually the first thing I do after checking into our B&B, before showering, getting changed or taking refreshments. They are written, having achieved what we set out to do for the day, with the benefit of hindsight and knowing that everything worked out OK. If, however, they were written first thing in the morning, before setting off, the mood of the updates might be different. A compound of uncertainties would probably be reflected in some way. Would the weather hold up? Would the path/trailfinding work out OK? Are the bodies/knees/feet going to hold up, never mind the general fatigue? Of course, these things aren’t mutually exclusive: fatigued bodies make way-finding more difficult and poor weather – hot, wet, windy, foggy – makes everything more challenging.

These morning feelings have certainly been with me the last three days when we’ve been in the Lake District (and they have probably been heightened because William is with me – it’s all very well things going pear-shaped when you only have yourself to think of but when others are part of the equation it’s another matter). However, as we move eastwards they are greatly diminished. We are moving into parts of the country that I understand and know better. I feel more in control and can relax a little.

Today we’ve covered a lot of ground. In addition to the standard mileage we did a detour (deliberate this time) down to Orton, a sheep fair and farmers’ market making it a busy little village today. Stocked up on juice and energy bars.

Most of the walking today has been across open moorland and meadowland; remote and for the most part either flat/gently sloping or undulating. Early on in the day William described it as: “Just like…errr…baarring.” (students of English will know that the language continues to evolve and parents of teenagers know that attempts to evolve the language can be particularly rapid in years 13 and 14 of a person’s life; in this case “baarring” is a simple evolution of the word “boring”). Well, I’m sorry William (and I know you are missing the crags and fells of Lakeland) but baarring it certainly is not. Behind us we’ve had the peaks of the Lake District still visible, to my right for most of the day we’ve had the Howgills and the Pennines have been growing in front of us throughout the day. The landscape has a rugged beauty about it here, with the heather on the moors in vivid purple bloom providing welcome colour. I pointed out some of the history in the landscape as we progressed: the Roman roads, the stone circles, the old sheep folds and enclosures, the ancient settlement site called Severals (although, if truth be told, there is not much to be discerned there for the untutored eye), the disused railway and the viaduct at Smardale. There is much to reflect on in this stage of the walk. I’m afraid, at the end of our day though, William’s original assessment remained unchanged.

In fact, he found the last third of the day challenging; a combination I guess of the day’s mileage, insufficient interest for him in the terrain and cumulative fatigue. Spirit has, I think, dipped a little as the day has progressed. However, he has not complained and refuelling and a good night’s rest should have him ready for tomorrow.

He has opted to wear a knee support today. Only he knows if it really is required. I suspect it might be a bit of a fashion accessory; the bright, white strapping looking quite fetching along with his new shorts. All I know for sure is that, after the first half hour of walking, it spent most of the time slipped around his ankle until we came across other walkers, at which point it was quickly reapplied to the knee.

Anybody following these updates will know I’ve been passing comment on the B&Bs we have been staying in. I have to commend Brookfield in Shap where we stayed last night. Nothing was too much trouble for Margaret, our host (and I put it that way rather than calling her – say – proprietor); she did a washing for us (with the dry clothes outside out room in the morning) at no extra charge, a bespoke breakfast (in my case, porridge and fruit salad, which meant I could avoid the full sluggish) and is quite charming. She genuinely sees you as a guest rather than just a business opportunity. So if you have to stay in Shap (and if you’re doing the C2C you’ll almost certainly have to) I’ll wager that you’ll do no better than Brookfield.

Once again, the weather has been ideal.

Into our B&B for 4.30pm. Tomorrow we have a shorter mileage day but with a fair amount of height gain required.


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