|Patterdale to Shap (26 km)|
Wast Water - Wander
Wast Water - Scafells
Patterdale - Helvellyn
Over Haweswater with Harter Fell (left of centre), Riggindale and Kidsty Pike (right of centre) at its head.
This was my last dull weather day on the walk - the rest of the weather was either fine or at least interesting. The Lake District leaves some of its best features to the last with the tall High Street range providing grand views with the feeling of walking into history as you cross the legendary High Street Roman Road. Beyond the range is an exciting descent followed by pleasant (level!) walking.
The Coast to Coast Walk leaves Patterdale village across the Goldrill Bridge and through the little hamlet of Rooking. A gate leads straight into the open fell and a good path slanting up the hillside to the grassy saddle of Boredale Hause. A slight detour into the hause leads to the stony ruins of a chapel. From the hause, the path winds higher to emerge above the head of Dubhow Beck where there is a glimpse of the Brotherswater lake far below. Here the path splits into high and low routes, both of which traverse the flank of the Angletarn Pikes to rejoin where a corner reveals the rough edged Angle Tarn.
The far side of the tarn is traversed to pass under the rocks of Buck and Satura Crags (a climb of the latter brings good views down Bannerdale which is part of the Martindale Deer Forest). A gap in the wall to your left lets you into the valley containing Sulphury Gill which is crossed to join a path rising from Hartsop. A final climb (perhaps the steepest of the day) takes the path up to The Knott (just off the route) and a diversion southwards to the junction with the High Street Roman Road. There are a couple of options here - either heading south over the Straits of Riggindale to bag the summit of High Street or continuing the Coast to Coast Walk's northward progress to High Raise.
In any case, the Coast to Coast Walk jogs to the north to circle above Twopenny Crag and along the rim of Riggindale to the airy top of Kidsty Pike. There are a couple of shelters just beyond the peak (useful for shelter from any wind). This is a great spot for a break even in cloudy weather. The pike is left on a clear path (at first over stony ground) along the descending east ridge. The small hump of Kidsty Howes marks the slight steepening of the path as it drops down to the lake shore. As you descend, look over to your right to the crags (Castle Crag) over Randale Beck - they are the site of an Iron Age hillfort. You are likely to meet a few people at the bottom since Riggindale is the site of England's only nesting golden eagles (RSPB observation hut just off to the south). A long 6.4 kilometre (4 mile) stroll along the whole length of Haweswater on a clear and easy path gives you plenty of time to deplore the drowning of Mardale village and its near-legendary Dun Bull Inn when the valley was dammed.
The massive dam structure brings you back into civilisation and the cottages at Burnbank. Nice woods are passed through on the way to Naddle Bridge and an attractive corner with an old pack-horse bridge and the confluence of Naddle and Haweswater Becks. The path passes the sparkling waters of Thornthwaite Force and follows the beck through delightful (if thinly) wooded fields. A loop in the beck is cut just past Park Bridge before it is left for the nice climb up to the barns at High Park.
The rest of the way to Shap Abbey is through fields with a few crossings of minor roads. The highlight of this section is the discovery of the well-shaped Parish Crag Bridge nestled by a wooded area on the large Swindale Beck. The best view back to the High Street range is from a stile just beyond the bridge. The abbey ruins can be visited (for free!) by turning right after the Abbey Bridge across the River Lowther. The abbey's large tower dominates the low-lying ruins in the sheltered, green valley. A similarity between the stones in the ruins and the nearby farmhouse is not accidental.
Leaving the abbey, the Coast to Coast Walk climbs up a cruelly steep concrete road through a field. This becomes a narrow lane at the top of the slope, leading straight to Shap. Hopefully you will have booked your nights rest somewhere that is not too far down Shap's lengthy main street. I stayed right on the Coast to Coast Walk at the Kings Arms pub (nice basic accommodation).