Coast to Coast – Haweswater to Shap

Date: 19 April 2019 Weather: 21’C, sunny blue sky
Height gain: 1,257 ft Distance: 10.9 miles
Time taken: 5.5 hours Wainwrights:

This is our second walk of the Coast to Coast and we pick up where we left off on our first walk two days ago.  It’s Good Friday and the weather is stunning.  We think we can avoid the crowds today as we’ll be doing a section of the Coast to Coast that most hardened walkers would do in one go from Patterdale so they’re unlikely to get this far this early.

We know that the car park at the end of Haweswater fills up quickly so we make an early start (for us).  We decide to stop at Tebay services on the way to pick up food for the day.   It was absolutely heaving there at 8.30 am in the morning – lots of people getting an early start for their Good Friday travelling.  We weren’t impressed with the pasties and sandwiches on offer, and eating them later confirmed that it is overpriced and underwhelming for our type of walking food and we won’t be troubling it again.  The cakes were good, though.

We have a car parked in Shap and reach the Mardale car park at the end of Haweswater, the start of our walk, by 9.30 am.  The main car park is just full, but we manage to get the exact same spot in the shaded layby as we did two days ago (no, the air-con isn’t fixed yet).

There are a lot of people booting up like us, and the views are already beautiful:

1a

We retrace our steps of two days ago to get back to the Coast to Coast path.  We can see Kidsty Pike from here – the highest triangle just to the right of the skyline in the picture:

2a

Quite a few people are also on our route, but as we pass the turn for Kidsty Pike they head for the hills and we are on our own for the start of the walk along Haweswater.  On a hot day like today I feel quite relieved that our day only has some undulations and we don’t have to huff and puff up several thousand feet of ascent.

As we reach the first of those undulations our route along the reservoir is stretched out ahead of us on the left of the photo:

5a

…. and looking back on the short distance we’ve already walked looks good too:

4a

The path is stony and has ups and downs but isn’t difficult and we really enjoy the next few miles to the end of Haweswater.  No-one is on our route as we’d hoped, but as we get to The Forces waterfalls family groups start coming towards us on their way to see the falls.

We reach the shade of trees close to the dam that marks the end of the reservoir and stop to have our lunch.  It is very warm and we haven’t bought this year’s stock of sun-tan lotion yet, a decision we are starting to regret.

My rucksack is feeling very heavy in the heat so the shade is welcome.  After lunch we make our way through the pretty village of Burnbanks and out into the fields beyond.

The route is less distinct now, perhaps not many feet have trodden it so far this season, and the terrain is completely different from the reservoir path.  It feels like we lose some rhythm as we umm and ahh over the right direction to take across field after field, but the GPS tells us we’re going in the right general direction.

We cross the edge of Rosgill Moor and reach a road and the River Lowther.  As we turn away from the road and onto a footpath along the river there’s a nice comfy boulder to sit on which I take advantage of.  We’re 8 miles in now and I’m really feeling the heat.  A sit down and a few swigs of water leave me a little bit restored and we carry on.

A mile and a short climb later and we’re looking down on Shap Abbey and the end is in sight:

6a

We find a rock in the field for afternoon tea – the cakes which are the high point of what Tebay had to offer this morning (orange marmalade brownie … mmmmm…).

We carry on past the Abbey, which we’d visited on S’s birthday recently, past a group of teenagers enjoying the sunshine and splashing in the river.  That we didn’t mind, the loud music they were playing and the quad bikes they were buzzing up and down the road on were a little less peaceful.

We march up the road above the Abbey and on into Shap, which is a very long town when you’re nearly 11 miles into a walk.  The car was hot, but thankfully we’d left S’s at the end today as Shap has a good car park so the air-con cooled us down before I had to complete the journey home in my car with warm air blowing over me.

We had a stunning April day today and we both really enjoyed the first few miles walking along Haweswater in particular.  I have huge respect for those that do this section on the same day as the walk from Patterdale and over Kidsty Pike – and I very much envy your fitness.