Friday, 10 September 2010

Day 22 Shap to Carnforth

Friday 10th September 2010

My night in the pub was quite a success. I was sharing the beer garden with a few boozy walkers who were walking the popular Coast to Coast Walk that passes through Shap, but after a day of walking and a couple of pints I can sleep through just about anything now, including the rain that fell most of the night.

As I left Shap the sun was trying to come out and there was a large rainbow in the sky, but my waterproofs had to go on right from the off as the rain was too heavy. That would turn out to be my only glimpse of the sun all day. As I started the long gradual climb up the A6 towards Shap Fell the weather deteriorated. The rain got heavier and heavier as I made my way up and there was a stiff wind blowing in my face. By the time I reached the summit, a notorious blackspot for problems in poor weather, I was literally up in the clouds. The visibility was very poor, I could barely see the other side of the road, walking on the grass verge was my only option to stay safe.

At Shap Fell summit I paused for a moment to take a couple of pictures and update my Twitter status. While I was there an odd coincidence occurred. Four cyclists going the other way pulled into the same lay-by as me, I couldn't help noticing they had Devon flags on their bicycles. I went over and asked where they were from, it turned out they were all from Exeter, the very city where I make doorstep deliveries on my Milk & More round. They were cycling from Lands End to John o'Groats. It was great to meet them and I think we all forgot the foul weather for a few minutes while we had a good laugh.

The very poor visibility and rain persisted as I made my descent down the other side on unpleasant winding roads, clearing up slightly by the time I reached Kendal. I stopped there in a supermarket cafe for a slightly extended lunch break knowing it was going to be a day of high mileage.

Nearly all the way from Kendal to my eventual destination Carnforth I had the luxury of walking along the flat and grassy tow-paths beside the abandoned section of the Lancaster Canal. It was nice to get away from the roads for a few hours. I managed to miss the start of the canal at Kendal, but I picked it up at the nearby Sedgwick Aqueduct. Highlights included the long Hincaster Tunnel in the dry section, you can't walk through, I had to go over the hill. Also the eight abandoned locks at Tewitfield, these are right next to the M6 motorway on the Cumbria/Lancashire border. A couple of times in the afternoon I took my waterproofs off when it looked like the rain was finally stopping, both times it turned out to be wishful thinking, I had to quickly put them back on within minutes when another heavy shower blew in.

It was a relief when I made it to Carnforth after tough day. The highest daily mileage on my walk so far (7.7 miles further than a full marathon) had managed to coincide with the worst weather. Tonight I'm staying in B&B for just £19, it's an easy choice when the campsites in the local area charge you £18 just to pitch a tent in their field for the night, with no food included. The going rate until now had been £5 to £8. I shall sleep very well tonight knowing that I have a much easier day tomorrow, my destination in Garstang being a little less than 18 miles from here.

GPS data click here

Mileage today; 33.90 miles, walking time 8 hrs 36 mins, average walking speed 3.9 mph

Weather; morning wet and windy, afternoon frequent showers, max 19C

Cumulative mileage; 475.15 miles

Percfect for walking, a grassy canal tow path

Hincaster Tunnel on the abandoned canal

Approaching Shap Fell in the rain

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Exmouth, Devon, United Kingdom
Hi :) I'm a 49yo father of three from Exmouth, a lovely seaside town in Devon. In parts of Exeter I'm well known as the local milkman where I've been making traditional doorstep deliveries for 15 years.