Coast to Coast – September 2016 – day 6 Shap to Kirkby Stephen

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Todays hike across the Westmorland Plateau doesn’t have prolonged gradients or rocky sole-mashing trails, just genteel grassy strolls across the limestone bedrock . So all in all, after the previous 5 days of volcanic rock in the Lake District, this is a recovery day, especially with improving fitness levels.

A mere 21 miles across steady undulating fields and moorland with barely a hill in sight walking towards the Pennines and the backbone of England.

The day was planned to start with me walking from Brookfield at the far end of the enormous Shap high street to collect the main party from the Kings Arms at 0830 while Steve was to leave Brookfield with Bob, Helen, and Sam at 0830 taking a short route to the M6 footbridge. All was on plan until Bob decided at 0830 to wash his boots and then leave the B&B without paying for his packed lunch! So little did I know this slip in timings was to be the feature of today. We averaged 2.7 mph yesterday over the mountains to Shap and with a flat and easy day ahead, one could easily see that previous arrival times in KS of 1600/1630 could be easily achieved.

The weather was kind, with sunshine all day adding to the ingredients for a perfect day of walking. As we reached Hardendale Quarry, the group began to spread out highlighting that some were already starting to struggle and this become more pronounced throughout the morning. Blisters, muscle strains, fatigue, and some of the groups inability to walk any faster meant that our pace slowed to 2.3 mph, much slower than the previous day!

Managing group dynamics with a very spread out group becomes more difficult and potentially hazardous in poorer conditions but we walked on to Smardale Bridge before re-grouping effectively. More pain relieving gel, painkillers, and anti inflammatory pills were taken in an effort to boost performance over the last 6 miles.

However, it managed to get the group to the destination, but without improving our walking time, arriving at 1745 in Kirkby Stephen after nearly 9 hours. This left a very quick turnaround time for cream teas and scones, showers, baths etc at The Jolly Farmers, before dinner at 1900 at The Black Bull.

A couple of short days with some ‘interesting’ topographical features to negotiate lie ahead – here’s hoping that a good nights rest and two more easy days can revitalise  everyone before our two long and hard days from Richmond to Os, and Os to Blakey Ridge.

The weather still looks good though – so we have no excuses there – fingers crossed X

No - it's not I'm a Celebrity, get me out of here - more like, I'm sorry but Bob wanted to wash his boots!

No – it’s not I’m a Celebrity, get me out of here with Steve walking across the bridge at Shap – more like, I’m sorry but Bob wanted to wash his boots – that’s why we’re late!

For more details on the Coast to Coast guided walk see http://www.sherpaexpeditions.com

 

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