GLW1207:  Shap Spa and Summit

Saturday 8th September 2012

After a few week's lay off, thanks to this poor summer's weather, once again we tried one of the Curious Cumbrian Walks by Graham Dugdale.  This one was his Walk 22: All's Well at Shap.

It was late afternoon when we parked outside the Shap Wells Hotel.

First stop was the Britannia monument commemorating the accession of Queen Victoria and as featured in
BB1223: St George and the Squirrel.

Unfortunately, on descending to the Spa, this time there was only one red squirrel to be seen, scampering so quickly across the path that Margaret didn't spot it.  A fact that particularly annoyed her as the same thing happened last time I saw a kingfisher!

There was, however, a feature that had not been noticed on the BOOTboys trip- the distinct "smell of sulphur".

And as a consolation prize, a remarkable growth on the side of a tree that resembled Mr Squirrel with his shopping.  Or maybe it was a meerkat?

Hereafter, our way differed from BB1223 and we made our way upstream

Somehow we missed the waterfalls - perhaps the vegetation has grown somewhat since the book was written.  

The promised dark tunnel of rhododendrons was there.

It made quite a spooky tunnel.  

Very gothic


After a quite a stretch of woodland, we emerged into a field via a pylon.  

At the far side was the high point of the London to North Western railway line:

Shap Summit.

Sadly no steamers to be seen struggling their way north, although there is a footbridge if, on the odd day one passes, you want nostalgic lungfulls of steam and smoke.

Next there was a majestic view of..... Shap Granite Works.  I have seen this many, many times from the A6 but never from behind like this where you can really see the scale of the operation.

Our path now turned south, following the old road, now just a track, but once travelled by a hopeful Charles Stuart on his way to Derby.  And quite possibly when in a bit of a dash on his retreat.

Whether he stopped for a bout of grouse shooting we don't know but there were plenty of birds asking for trouble today.

On reaching the long driveway to the Shap Wells Hotel, we had a decision to make. To carry on with the walk or to cut and run back to the hotel?  .

Evening was approaching - the nights are now rapidly drawing in.  Nevertheless, we decided to press on, up to the A6 for a brief section then left over the moorland.

Just before the sun dropped below the skyline, we stopped for a brew and to provide the midges with an early evening supper.  The track thereafter became increasingly boggy, even more so after we passed Salterwath farm.

It was distinctly twilight as we passed through the Shap Wells car park- now very full as not only were there two coach loads of visitors, including one from Zell am Zee, there was a wedding party in full swing.  

Fortunately, although several cars were parked around us just outside the grounds, we were able to escape into the gloaming and thickening mist.

It was far from being the prettiest walk that we have ever undertaken, but it did have its points of interest.

However, an earlier start would be recommended.  Especially if you want to see the squirrels.

Don, 8th September June 2012

PS  Mr Dugdale, please note that in the 18th century (well, certainly in the 20th century) Shap was in Westmorland, not Cumberland.


Distance: 5.6 miles;     Height climbed:  560 feet



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