After walking from Skipton to Newbiggin on Lune over 4 days we turned left on the 5th day and headed west towards Shap and the Lake District.
The route we followed was familiar as it was the Coast to Coast route we had walked in 2016. This year we were going the other way. It soon became clear that we were going the ‘wrong’ way as a steady procession of C2C walkers were heading West to East.
We walked up onto Sunbiggin moor to the magically named Sunbiggin Tarn which is a mecca for bird watchers. We were on a mission with 34 kilometres ahead of us so we bounded on our way enjoying the grassy surface. It had been an unusually dry spring in the North of England and there were fire hazard signs on the moor. We crossed the B6260 above Orton and now, still in the Yorkshire Dales National Park thanks to the 2016 boundary change, we walked across the Crosby Ravensworth Moor.
The Crosby Ravensworth moor contains a number of interesting historical features. There is a Roman Road near to the Black Dub monument. This records a stopping place of King Charles II and his invading army from Scotland in 1651. A number of bields and ancient cairns are dotted about and on White Hags there is a stone circle made up of granite boulders.
The presence of granite is another of the fell’s points of interest. Although the main underlying rock is limestone the area is also notable for a number of erratic granite boulders. In a couple of places in the Orton Fells these granite erratics are called thunder stones. The most impressive boulder is right on the C2C path. It sits on a heavily crushed plinth of limestone.
Oddendale is a small settlement east of Shap and from there the route is close by the M6. It is very odd to be out on a long walk with car whizzing by at 70 mph. How wonderful it was to be one of those out walking and not sitting in the car going somewhere else.
So far on our Long Walk we had enjoyed dry, warm, sunny weather. As we approached the M6 it became increasingly cloudy. We left the Yorkshire Dales National Park behind as we crossed the M6 to Shap. Heading West from Shap we entered the Lake District National Park and guess what – it started to rain!
Our route from Shap went through the hamlet of Keld and then across the moor down in to the beautiful remote valley of Swindale.
We looked down into the valley and could clearly see the result of work which was carried out in 2016.
A couple of hundred years ago the beck was straightened out in an attempt to create more farm land – however, this turned out not to be the best solution for helping wildlife to thrive or for managing flooding.
So, in an exciting project that benefits both people and wildlife, Natural England, the RSPB, the Environment Agency and United Utilities have worked together to put the beck back to something like its original, bendy course.
The Swindale Beck work is part of wider efforts to restore rivers in the UK so that natural processes help manage flood risk and benefit people and wildlife.
There were also hundreds of very new lambs in this valley and we saw our first Herdwicks.
There was yet another short climb out of Swindale and over the moor – passing through a field of just born lambs and down to Naddle Farm and on to the Haweswater Dam.
Haweswater is a reservoir built in the Mardale Valley. The controversial construction of the Haweswater dam started in 1929, after Parliament passed an Act giving the Manchester Corporation permission to build the reservoir to supply water for Manchester. The decision caused public outcry, since the farming villages of Measand and Mardale Green would be flooded, with their inhabitants needing to be relocated. The original natural lake was raised by 29 metres.
Manchester Corporation built a new road along the eastern side of the lake to replace the flooded highway lower in the valley, and the Haweswater Hotel was constructed midway down the length of the reservoir as a replacement for the Dun Bull. The road continues to the western end of Haweswater, to a car park,
It was along this road that we now briskly walked in the drizzle towards the Haweswater Hotel which was to be our billet for the night.
The gpx file for day 5 can be found here.