Coast to Coast Day 6 – Shap to Kirkby (pron Kurbee) Stephen (20 miles: long moderate)

A surprisingly empty M6.
A surprisingly empty M6.

Shap apparently became a better place to live once the M6 opened in 1970, as the once clogged A6 running through, stopped being a major artery for traffic going to and from Scotland.  On our trek today we crossed both the A and the M. One, with a few strides across from the King’s Arms and the other by way of a kindly built footbridge. From last night’s memory it was a tiny village and didn’t seem to exist much beyond the main road but for now there was no time to explore as we had yet another long day.

Paul giving us some moral boosting laughs as Ninja Map Reader before we began
Paul giving us some moral boosting laughs as Ninja Map Reader before we began.

I know it says ‘Moderate’ in the title but for whom is 20 miles a moderate walk? Perhaps there were no mountains in our way but them moors ain’t exactly pancake flat and we had not, unfortunately, got rid of the bogs despite the limestone plateau that we were supposedly now walking on. However, at least we knew where we were and where we were going and, more importantly, how to get there. No more intentional off piste-ing for this group.

It was a dry day but really quite cold with the wind.  Bizarrely, there had been a hell of a lot of wind in the Lakes but this was the first time it had felt really chilly to me; I had to finally get out the fingered gloves.  There was a lot of moorland that we passed through and a lot of archeology too but I wouldn’t have been able to spot it by myself.  I can imagine that on a rainy day you can get lost here and the instructions to ‘hug the walls’ that Paul was giving out would definitely be required.  The path along was very visible for us though, and anyway there was sometimes barbed wire surrounding those dry stones so we couldn’t get very up close and personal with them if we’d tried. Plus when there were no walls, the Coast to Coast became, in Derek’s words, the ‘Post to Post’ as we were given a handy trail of wooden markings to guide us through.

IMG_3366  IMG_3363

It appears that Robin Hood stopped his galavanting around the country here as apparently his grave is along this route.  Paul did call out when we were near it but as none of us, apart from maybe Paul, had the energy to take more steps than required, we trooped past with a few grunts of acknowledgement. In fact the terrain today was at times quite stunning and varied from rolling hills and streams to the moorland brush.


I was aware of it but by about mile 10 onwards I only wanted to get to Kirkby Stephen and it was a happy sight when it came.  20 miles done in just under 9 hours this time including lots of stops.  The soles of my feet were burning and my back was seizing up.  

However, within an hour or so of putting my feet up I was recovered enough to look at the list of local eating places that Fletcher House had kindly provided.  Derek had talked about Kirkby Stephen having a good curry house and everybody fancied it.  He called it Ruby so I tried finding it in the list. But there was only one called the Mango Tree. Maybe it had changed hands. I said this to Derek and he looked at me strangely.  So I’ve now learned a new Cockney rhyming slang term. Well not that new because it appears Ms Ruby Murray was a famous singer in the 1940s and 50s.

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