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Journeyman's Coast to Coast Journal 2006
Saturday 17 June - Shap to Orton
I was wide awake at 7am and feeling great – totally refreshed and my calf seemed fine. It was a hot day today and probably the first day when I really thought I had better put some sun cream on. I had another shorter day today and therefore I had arranged breakfast for 8.30am. The breakfast was outstanding on the biggest breakfast plate I have ever seen or used. The two endurance eventers had set off but I chatted with Gordon and his wife over breakfast. I sorted my rucksack and gear out and collected my packed lunch from Margaret and we chatted until 9.50am. She showed me one of her guest books from 1988 and asked if I recognised any signatures on the page – there it was the unmistakeable ‘A Wainwright’. Margaret explained that A.W. had been staying with her along with people from the Westmoreland gazette in connection with his work. What a privilege it was to chat with Margaret and see the great man’s signature in her book. I left Margaret promising to return with my wife – and I do not break promises.
As I left Brookfield it was a bonus that there was a path directly at the side of the premises leading up a lane then over some fields to the footbridge over the M6. It was a longer walk to get to Brookfield but a shorter walk to get to the M6 footbridge – swings and roundabouts. As I walked towards the footbridge in the fields on the northern side of the carriageway I saw 2 male walkers coming from the northern end of Shap and 4 female walkers who had already crossed the footbridge and were walking in a southerly direction across the fields on the other side of the M6. The two males seemed to be holding back so I crossed the footbridge and followed the 4 females – I was probably about quarter of mile behind them at this time but caught them up at the Hardendale quarry road. I introduced myself and the 4 females did likewise – 4 American ladies called Tressa (Theresa), Patty, Kitty and Di from Kansas. I must admit initially my head was buzzing with these typical American names and I had difficulty remembering who was who at first. As you will see as this account continues I spent quite some time with these ladies and got to know who they were pretty well. As we walked along towards the hamlet of Oddendale we exchanged details about our schedules – which were pretty similar from now on – and I filled them in about all sorts of things to come on the walk. I pointed out the hamlet of Oddendale saying it had featured in the series done by the BBC of A.W and Eric Robson on the Coast to Coast in the late 1980’s. I explained that the Video and DVD of this series was now available. My first impressions of these ladies, who I shall refer to from now on collectively as the Kansas Krew (KK), was that they were all really nice people out to thoroughly enjoy their walk. Their schedule included a few days camping and a few days Youth Hostelling but the majority B & B. They seemed a little unsure with their navigation as we stood whilst they identified the correct path to take from Oddendale and then they explained that they had a difficult time on the section from Ennerdale to Borrowdale.
The KK had set off a few days before me and on the Sunday (11 June) they had left Black Sail Hut heading for what they believed to be Loft Beck but clearly from their descriptions it was Tongue beck leading towards Green and Great Gable. They had ascended what they thought was Loft Beck in mist, wind and rain and realising they were lost and in danger they started blowing whistles. A group of walkers containing a fireman and paramedic came to their assistance and guided them to the path leading down to Honister. I believe two of the group sat out one of the following days in the Packhorse minibus to get over the shock of missing Loft beck. The KK said they had learned a big lesson from this experience and following a team meeting realised they had to pay more attention to their map reading and work together hence the sustained deliberation near Oddendale. I walked along with them chatting about the walk and due to the fact we were on a similar schedule I told them I would guide them over Nine Standards Rigg if they wished – they snatched my hand off at the offer and as events unfolded I think it was a wise decision. As we approached Crosby Ravensworth Fell where the main C2C path veers left I said temporary farewell to the KK as I intended visiting Black Dub Monument, a short distance off route for two reasons – firstly, I was captivated by the history of such monuments and secondly, there was a geocache nearby. The KK were camping that night at Raisgill Farm and as I left them I did not expect to see them again until somewhere along the route the following day. As I left them, the two males I had seen at the M6 footbridge, caught us up and we all started chatting – I thought they would walk along with the KK but they just surged ahead without saying much. They were only walking to Orton and then catching a bus.
I was a little wary as I used by GPS to hone in on Black Dub monument. The last couple of hundred yards were over heather moorland and we had just passed a sign warning that adders were common in the area. I skipped over the heather ready to fend off any would be attackers with my Leki walking pole. The GPS took me straight to the geocache and then I went to the Black Dub monument.
The monument had been placed in the spot where in 1651 King Charles 2 regaled his troops on the march south from Scotland. This monument was at the source of the River Lyvnett in a desolate hallow in the moor and I thought to myself ‘Why here?’ My assessment was that the Roman Road passed close by and therefore it would have been a convenient place to shelter from the higher fells with a source of water. By the way there are paths leading to Black Dub from the Orton area. I took a bearing over the heather to rejoin the main C2C footpath on the approach to Robin Hoods Grave. Shortly after I joined the path I saw a group of 5 C2C east to west walkers who were having a short break sitting on the grass in the sunshine. We chatted a while about the route and I learned that they had done the C2C previously west to east and they were now doing the reverse route. I continued and as I looked ahead I saw the figures of Andy, Chris and Kit walking slowly up the hillside near Robin Hoods Grave. I walked faster to catch them up.
As I joined them I saw that Andy was limping badly and was using a tree branch that Little John would have been proud of to assist him walking. Jim had caught the Packhorse minibus again, Chris was starting to feel the pressure and was walking slowly and Kit was OK but supporting his two colleagues. Andy’s knee was bandaged and Kit told me that he had heard something click. We took a few photographs and walked along together on a pleasant early afternoon. I took Kit with me to bag the ’Thermals’ geocache a little further along the route near Orton Scar before re joining Andy and Chris who were waiting by the roadside. Andy was in no fit state to continue all the way to Kirkby Stephen and after a little persuasion he agreed to walk with me down into Orton – where I was staying that night – to try and get a bus or taxi to Kirkby Stephen. Kit and Chris decided to go on to Kirkby Stephen despite the fact that Chris was walking slowly. I gave Andy my Leki walking pole and we steadily walked down the road into Orton village. We made enquiries which revealed there were virtually no buses on a Saturday to take him to Kirkby Stephen but he contacted Jim who was riding in the packhorse minibus and confirmed that they had not passed through Orton as yet and he managed to arrange a pick up outside the George Hotel. It was time to have a pint with Andy whilst he waited for his lift. Sure enough the reliable Packhorse minibus came and picked Andy up. Jim was gasping for a drink in the front of the minibus so I gave him a drink of my beer which was gratefully received. I sat down outside the George Hotel and had another pint as I would be too early to attend Barn House where I was staying that night. I hadn’t been sat long when I saw and heard the KK approaching. They joined me for a drink and we sat around a table in the beer garden talking about the walk so far and the days ahead. They had apparently got lost near Broadfell Farm – how I don’t know. They got out their schedule I noted that we were staying together at some places e.g. Butt House, Keld, Hackney House, Reeth and The Lion at Blakey Ridge. I reminded them that I would accompany them over Nine Standards Rigg if they wished as we were all staying at Butt House in Keld. The offer was gratefully accepted. In the event of us not meeting the following day, we arranged to meet at Franks Bridge, Kirkby Stephen at 9am on Monday.
I had a walk down to Barn House at 3.45pm and booked in. I had a wonderful reception from the owner, Lillian Smith, and was shown to an extremely spacious room on the upper floor with a large modern bathroom. I wasted no time in running a hot bath following which I got into my daily routine of changing maps, recharging batteries, arranging gear for tomorrow. I walked back into the village to the George Hotel at 6.15pm for my evening meal of chilli con carne, rice, chips and tortillas which was delicious. I had a few drinks and chatted to a few cyclists who were arriving in the village in 2’s and 3’s. I learned they were on a sponsored cycle ride C2C from Walney Island to Wallsend to raise money for Cancer Research. I learned later that they were all employees/linked to Lloyds Bank – well done ladies and gents. I went back to Barn House fairly early and watched TV for a short time before falling to sleep.
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