All the guidebooks say that the walk from Patterdale to Shap is the toughest day on the Coast to Coast, and that if you can get through today then the rest of the walk is a doddle. Well, the guidebooks lied to me, but more on that later on. But this is a red letter day as it marks the highest point on the walk, and also the completion of the section in the Lake District.
Probably more than any other day, this walk has three completely distinct sections. In the morning, you make the climb out of Patterdale to Angle Tarn and then the more gradual ascent to Kidsty Pike. This is the highest point on the whole walk. Unfortunately for me, as with most times I got up to high ground in the Lake District, the weather closed in and I couldn’t see a thing. This was a pity because I really wanted to get a view of High Street, which is one of the few places in the Lake District that I’d heard of prior to the walk. This was a road build by the Romans to avoid going into the marshy ground below where it would have been easy to be ambushed.
The summit of Kidsty Pike was the busiest place, aside from the pub, that I’d seen on the walk so far. It was so busy up there I decided I would have my lunch at the bottom of the mountain instead. The climb down to Haweswater Reservoir is certainly one of the toughest on the walk. It was slow going, and inevitably I deeply regretted my decision not to eat my lunch at the top. After being overtaken by several retired couples on the way day, I eventually made it to the bottom in one piece.
The next section of the walk takes you around the western bank of Haweswater reservoir. There was a lot of ivy around, and the path was narrow but mostly easy going. It has turned into a gorgeous afternoon, but the type you’d prefer to be sat on a deck chair with an ice cream rather than in the middle of the 16 mile hike. It was so hot that I took to drenching my hat in the water for a bit of relief. The reservoir seemed to go on for ages, made worse by the fact that you can soon see the end of the water – so close but yet so far!
The final section of the day is the very flat walk into Shap through fields. At any point, you are able to turn around and see Kidsty Pike, slowly fading into the distance as the miles go by. I don’t really remember too much about this section to be honest, having already clocked up 12 miles before the final push into Shap. But it was one of the happiest points on the walk as a) it was flat, b) it was on grass and c) I have made it through the Lakes in one piece. I must have been feeling pretty good about things because I walked out of my way to take a look at Shap Abbey.
On the way into Shap, there was the remanence of a Wolf Run event that had taken place earlier in the day. I was able to resist the temptation to go down the mud slide. I then realised that my accommodation wasn’t actually in Shap that night, and I had walked passed it about four miles ago. This turned out to be a good thing, with Shap being packed that evening with Wolf Run folk. I was able to grab a cab and retreat to a lovely, quiet, village pub with excellent food and even better beer. Well-earned after a 16+ mile hike!