After almost six months with a foot problem, I was now ready to test my newly-injected foot and do some ‘proper walking’.
My friend Allie came with me on this particular stretch and although the day had been set in the diary for a while, we dithered over whether to do the full section of Shap to Kirby Stephen or keep it short and walk as far as Orton. Having done it before, I knew it was potentially a long day and we’d set off from home a little later than planned. By the time we parked up it was almost mid-day and so the decision was made to do the shorter route. Sandwiches were eaten before we left the car, but at least I’d packed enough food for a full day. Phew!
Shap is a grey little town mostly surviving because of C2C walkers and the reliance on the granite works and quarries. Many houses date from the 18th Century and are a little forbidding but I feel Shap’s time will come again.
The path begins opposite The King’s Arms Hotel at the southern end of the village and is easy to find, but as I walked I couldn’t help look back towards Kidsty Pike and High Street, such is the pull of The Lakes—even though I was looking forward to the prospect of what lay in front. We headed over a railway, swiftly leaving Shap behind as we hugged walls and slipped through tiny stiles before reaching the motorway.
There is something rather poignant about crossing the M6 bridge and leaving the Lake District. It felt a bit like turning my back on an old friend and so I tied a ribbon to the railings so I can watch it flutter next time I drive under —a reminder of happy days. I knew the next section would be entirely different. And it was.
The route to Orton is easy going under foot; rarely rising above 107m (315ft).The paths are obvious and good except for a few small boggy bits which can easily be skirted. Hardendale Nab is a minor limestone summit but worth a peep.
The land opened up swiftly and skylarks sang their fluttering, happy song. A source of joy to me. This moorland being quite different from what we had passed through previously felt new territory but the big, big skies are refreshing and I was happy the breeze blew us gently forward with the delicious prospect of what lay ahead.
There are numerous granite boulders dotted around and our path touches a particularly large one which is probably a useful way-mark in poor weather.
Most of the route is relatively flat but there is a dried-up stream-bed in a dip which heads southward, it hides a pile of stones known as Robin Hood’s grave. He got around a bit didn’t he?
Shap to Orton is a lovely, gentle walk of around 8 miles and map-reading straight-forward so I had time to take some photos and relax. I couldn’t resist taking a photo of the old tractors but, my friend nudged me knowing I’d have quite a reaction on seeing some fairly young lambs that she had spotted before me—and she was right! How can I resist? Lambs are the cutest things. What a delight spring is! Orton had daffodils aplenty. Of course, this was a few weeks ago now and spring has moved on but It is such a pretty village and I wouldn’t mind betting it is delightful any time of year.
We had quick drink at the The George, (I think I had a Wainwrights) before it was time to catch our lift back to Shap. If you get there before 5pm you might find the Chocolate Shop open. I’m not sure it’s fitting to munch on a chocolate sheep. I suppose you could always ask for a Baaah instead.