Day 38

Shap to Penrith – 13.8 miles (599.3 total)

I had booked into a B&B in Penrith which had no check-in until 4pm. Because I only had 13 miles to walk there was no point in me reaching Penrith too early. Therefore, there was plenty of time to enjoy a leisurely breakfast with Sergio and Eddie before they returned home. The weather forecast was predicting a dry, sunny day – not our normal expectation for a bank holiday weekend.

A typical stone stile

My route out of Shap was the same as the Coast to Coast path until just before Shap Abbey. The Millers Way took me north towards Rosgill, overlooking the river in the valley below and giving me great views of the higher slopes on the other bank. The path took me through a series of fields, most of them given over to sheep and lambs. The morning kept on getting brighter and warmer and the views across the Lake District were as spectacular as you could wish for.

Shap Abbey
View across the valley

As I approached Bampton Grange I could hear the sound of church bells coming from the village church. What a beautiful day, and a beautiful setting for a wedding, I thought. Sadly, I discovered that the local bell-ringers were only taking the opportunity to get some practice in – what a waste! Many a bride would pay a fortune for the package witnessed only by me and the sheep.

Bampton Grange church

Crossing the bridge over the River Lowther offered more enjoyable riverside walking. It was so quiet that at various stages I startled pairs of ducks and pairs of geese as I trespassed on their environment. Eventually I re-crossed the river, this time on a very bouncy, single-person suspension bridge. Once across I chanced upon an interesting combination of old-fashioned telephone box and ornate signpost at Knipe. I then started climbing again towards Whale and walked through Low Deer Park Plantation towards Askham.

Bouncy Bridge
Knipe and the old-fashioned red telephone box

One final uphill effort brought me to Lowther Castle and its magnificent open grounds. After crossing the River Lowther again my route was right through the middle of a busy caravan/chalet area called Lowther Holiday Park.

Lowther Castle

Bank holiday Saturday, beautiful sunny weather – the park was packed with huge, modern caravans of every style, ranging in size from huge to even bigger! Most had side-extensions to make them even bigger again and they all appeared to have state-of-the-art 4x4s stationed beside them. I did feel as if I was lowering the tone of the place by walking through the middle of all this ostentation in my crumpled clothes and backpack.

One last gem, after leaving the park, was to walk under the Hugh’s Crag Railway Viaduct, as impressive as any that I had seen in Cornwall and Devon. I finished by walking under the M6 for the umpteenth time to then have a pleasant walk in to Penrith.

Hugh’s Crag Viaduct

Penrith meant Kerching number 6 because this is where we ended Lady Anne’s Way in 2002. A very long day lies ahead tomorrow to reach my next target, Carlisle.