Saturday 29 August 2015

Photo Essay: Day Six of the Coast to Coast Walk

"Thoughts come clearly while one walks."
- Thomas Mann

Day Six: from Shap to Orton (8 miles/13 km)

Summary of Route: This stage is a great relief after the rigors of the last four days. Today is definitely a recovery day. The arduous up-and-down gradients on the rocky trails of the Lakeland fells are gone; now you stroll your way across the Westmorland Plateau on grassy trails, which sit on well-drained limestone bedrock. It's mostly fields and moorland, as you pass the Howgill Fells to the south. Ahead of you lie the Pennines.

Coast to Coat Walk sign just outside Shap

Coming out of Shap, you cross the railway line and then go over the M6 motorway. Just pass the walled village of Oddendale, a couple of hundred metres west of the trail, sit two concentric stone circles that date back to about 4000 B.C.E.

Me on the footbridge over the M6

Traffic on the M6

Along this part of the trail  — as you head south into Lyvennet Beck — there are lots of outcroppings of limestone pavement. Soon you turn east, and then north-east, as you skirt Crosby Ravensworth Fell to the north, and pass a cairn marking Robin Hood's Grave (not the actual grave of the legendary outlaw of Sherwood Forest). The trail descends now along a road which soon meets the B6260. Just past a preserved lime kiln, you turn right to skirt Broadfell Farm; from here, it is just under a mile to our destination, the village of Orton.

Michael striding ahead

Tony hiking

We are now outside the Lake District. Today's hike has been primarily across farm fields and meadows, and over barren moorland that is strikingly bereft of trees   but decorated by purple heather. A boundary-marker of this change in landscape appeared soon after our departure from Shap. We had to take an elevated footpath over the M6 motorway. As we stood above the busy motorway, we could see the outline of the Lakeland fells behind us; and to the east we could the Pennine Hills to come.

Michael greets foal in farm yard
We endured wet conditions today: the fields and meadows were soggy and muddy; the moors were damp and boggy. To top it off, it was raining again at the start of today's hike (for the third day in a row), and for the second half of the walk the rain was pouring down — water was dripping steadily off the brim of my Tilley hat. By the time we got to Orton we took immediate shelter in a cafe/deli, and tried to dry out over lunch. The potato and leek soup was very welcome! Then we walked down to our B&B, the Barn House, a beautifully renovated old building.

Quote of the Day:

""Shap is crap."

- Tony (not too enamoured with this Cumbrian stopover)

Me by Coast to Coast sign -- M6 in background

 We saw some new things today. Across the moorland we encountered the skeletal remains of a couple of sheep — bones strewn across the ground — and several rabbits. The rabbit carcasses had not been fully reduced to mere bones — more recent victims, perhaps, of their predators. They would be more vulnerable out on the open spaces of the moors, with fewer places to hide.

On our walk across the moorland we also saw a half-dozen outcroppings of exposed limestone. They reminded me of karst formations in Ontario. Here they are referred to as limestone pavements. These fairly small patches of grey rock contrast visually with the short-cropped green grass and the purple heather.

Limestone pavement on Crosby Ravensworth Fell

Me and large boulder on Crosby Ravensworth Fell

Today was a recovery day. After the gruelling marathon we endured yesterday, this was an easy hike: it was only 8 miles, and we had very little steep walking to deal with. We were done by early afternoon — giving us a chance to rest our legs and feet for several extra hours. We have liked what we've seen of the village of Orton — particularly the All Saints Church (I posted a dozen photographs of it on Facebook). Tomorrow we move on to Kirkby Stephen; it should be another relatively easy hike (about 12 miles over mostly level terrain).

Rabbit remains on moorland

Scattered bones of a sheep

"But in every walk with Nature one receives far more than he seeks."
- John Muir

Purple heather and sheep

This hike is dedicated to Bill and Barb Cannon.
(see the end of my blog post for Day One for details)

Family we have met several times on the trail having lunch

Coast to Coast Path (Sixth Edition - 2014) by Henry Stedman;
Coast to Coast: West - Harvey Map XT40

Left-to-right: Michael, Tony & Clive


  1. Clive - fantastic blog. I just got back from doing the walk and your making the memories flood back. While I was trekking the task of the day took pre Eden e. It was not till reading your blog that the full sense of adventure and accomplishment has set in. I returned very proud of what I had completed but vowed never to do it again. You are making me rethink that decision. I very much look forward to reading about your travels.

    Mark Singer
    Halifax, NS
    And for one year a Mac student

  2. Hi there Clive & Co !

    It was really great to meet you fellow coast 2 coasters!

    We made it as intended to Sunbiggin Tarn on the Friday, where we buried some treasure for our return in the spring to complete the rest of the walk.

    Even though it is raining outside today and despite the hardships and discomforts we all really wish we were still on that great and epic walk.

    When we got back we found some nice videos on youtube you might enjoy - although perhaps when you get back as internet access was pretty rubbish wasn't it! (forgive me if you have already found them)..

    This one is a great documentary about Wainwright: "The Man Who Loved the Lakes"

    Coast to coast (part 1 of 6) with Julia Roberts

    As regards navigation - I was using 'ViewRanger' an app giving me OS maps and GPS navigation on a smart phone.
    The app is free - just the maps you pay for.

    We will really enjoy following your progress here .. and wish you all the greatest of luck on your great journey.

    Cheers to you all!
    Richard, Debbie, Molly, & Kirk

    1. Thanks so much for your response, and for all the useful information. I am just writing up the blog posts for Day 7 & 8. We finished Day 9 a couple of hours ago. Five more to go!