Monday, 10 December 2012

My Advent Calendar - Day 10

December 10th

Welcome to Day 10 of my Advent Calendar, where I am reliving my Coast to Coast adventure!

Day 6 – Part 1

~ Rain, Over the motorway, A bleak landscape, We are drenched, We deliberate catching a bus ~

On Thursday, 21st June, we woke to rain. The longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere was also soon to become our longest day of walking so far. The rain was not the light drizzle or mist we’d experienced most mornings either, and we left the tent up while we went for breakfast in the farmhouse, hoping that it might have stopped by the time we came out.
            At breakfast there were several more Coast to Coasters who had been staying in the B&B and we got chatting with them. Most memorable were two men walking together. One was fairly quiet, the other a little more vocal. As each new person entered the room the latter would tell his story of the previous day.
            Basically he had got lost, somehow. He’d taken several wrong turnings, gone back a few times and eventually given up and found a pub where his friend had called up the B&B and asked to be rescued! The worst thing about this (as far as Hannah and I were concerned) was that he blamed all of it on his guide book, which happened to be the same one we had used with complete success. The man began loudly abusing Martin Wainwright (see December 2nd post for our early loyalty to his fantastic work) and claimed that he was “useless”. We decided not to point out that we had managed fine, and Martin, if you’re reading this, please ignore him, the guide book is excellent.

After breakfast it was still raining and we dragged the tent into the barn to put it down. Having done that we wrapped ourselves in every piece of waterproof clothing we had and set off. Getting out of Shap proved harder than we anticipated and having made it over the railway line we fought our way along a path buried beneath undergrowth and by the time we came out the other end we were soaked.
            We met other people, including a father and son combination who’d also been at the B&B but had found a better route, and shortly after climbed up the bridge over the motorway (M6). On the other side the landscape looked very different, flat and featureless (at least in comparison to the Lake District) and the map became more important. As usual we moved slower than everyone else but with 20 miles to complete we knew we had to keep a decent pace.
            The path turns south for about four miles, which were fairly unmemorable. Very quickly we got tired; tired of walking, tired of the rain and the tiredness turned to grumpiness. We had planned to take the short cut past Orton as there wasn’t really a reason to go there, but we were so wet and desperate to find some shelter that we headed in.
            We found a brick bus stop and opposite a public toilet block with hand dryers. We had some lunch and discussed our options. There was still a long way to go and the rain didn’t look like relenting. We called our mum for some encouragement and checked the map to see if we could find any short cuts.
            We were very demoralised and were struggling to bring ourselves to go back out into the rain. Eventually I went out to look at the bus timetable.

A view inside our tent at Shap.

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