SHAP TO KIRKBY STEPHEN – 20 MILES / 32 KM
We left Shap knowing the Lake District was now behind us. The footbridge over the M6 motorway marked our departure from the first National Park, and into our second; the Yorkshire Dales.
We watched the rolling mountains disappear behind us, and the fells and hills of Yorkshire approach. A few RAF jets soared above, and soon we found the limestone scarred landscapes this area is so famous for.
But in good old fashioned style, we couldn’t continue without making a wrong turn. Rather than following Orton Scar around to the moorlands stretching East, we continued South towards Orton village, with the Howgill Fells slowly getting bigger and bigger. Not knowing this (despite having maps and compasses) we continued. It was when we saw the M6 again we paused to check our map.
We finally found the route we wanted on Ravenstonedale Moor, soon catching up with the St Clements couple and their brightly coloured coats. We exchanged our good mornings and how we had all enjoyed the good weather yesterday, before picking our pace up and continuing onwards.
The flat moorlands soon gave way to a lush green valley, with a path winding down to Smardale Bridge and the fells that stood between us and Kirkby Stephen. It was there we met another group of Coast to Coast walkers, affectionately known as “The Spice Girls”. You can read up on their blog here at:
We ended up walking into Kirkby Stephen with the St Clements, The Spice Girls, and eventually caught up with another couple from Germany, also on the Coast to Coast Path. I had read about walks like this one where you find camaraderie quite easily, especially with a route that is un-waymarked in places, and crosses quite tricky terrain.
Nevertheless, today was an easy day, despite our mistake at Orton. We found our B&B for the night (The Black Bull Hotel) where the other groups were staying too. Kirkby Stephen is a delightful place, with quaint little shops, flowers hanging from every building, and parrots! Yes, parrots!
We ended the night with all the groups together at the Black Bull; us, the Spice Girls, the German couple, and the St Clements. We discussed our next day walk, where else we were staying, where we were from, etc. I looked at Rob and I could see this was his dream come true. Camaraderie, friendly people, good beer, dry clothes… all was well before a 5ft tall bald Scotsman and his wife pulled up a stool and propped his foot on it.
“Crowd round, crowd round! I’m walking the Coast to Coast in reverse, and I’ve just come from Keld” he said (Keld being our next stop). “There are no pubs! There are no shops! There is nothing!”
Not to say I was doubting this guy, but I knew he was telling porkies! But we let him continue because he somehow took us by surprise with his round-up.
“You must go to the local shop, across the road, and stock up for tomorrow night, if you are going to Keld! Because there is nothing!”
The next morning, we were sure we saw him behind the counter of said shop.