Hike Northbound through Britain with Daryl May
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DN31 Shap pass approach
Days N25 - N33                                                                    North of England
Day N31 - Kendal to Shap
Day N30                                Shap                                                       Day N32
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Friday, April 20, 2007

Time of departure: 8.15 am
Time of arrival: 3.45 pm
Place departed: Kendal, Cumbria
Place arrived: Shap, Cumbria

Miles: 16.9
Cum miles: 498.0
Percent complete: 53.7

Bed sign Greyhound Hotel, Shap  ****
Cost for bed and breakfast:  35 ($70)

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DN31 Milestone
Shap Fell is well known in England for its bad weather.  It's a place where motorists get stranded by heavy snowfalls. Here, the news media can often capture a snow-in-summer story. Before they built the M6 motorway, Shap Fell on the A6 was the sort of place that cars overheated and broke down, and an accident here would block one of the two main roads linking England and Scotland.  As mountain passes go, 1400 ft is not noteworthy. But for me, it was the only mountain pass today, and I noticed it well enough.

Out of Kendal the road starts flat, then climbs gently. But after that it gets more challenging. The road then descends to cross Borrowdale Beck (a river) before ascending again, forcing hikers (and others) to regain altitude that they had previously already achieved. Then, in the last few miles before the summit, the road is steep for long stretches.

It is 16 miles from Kendal to the village of Shap, to which I needed to add a mile because my Kendal B&B was south of the town center. There is allegedly nowhere to stop before Shap, though I did notice one B&B close to Kendal. A 17-mile walk is tough for me, and in conjunction with the mountain pass, I knew I would have to dig deep. Fortunately, it drizzled only lightly, so that weather was not really a factor. But there was a footpath only in patches, and I had to contend with traffic arriving out of the mist, lights on, such that I often stepped off the road to get clear.

Now an easy day seems to be tough, because one expects to cover the distance effortlessly. On the other hand, a tough day like today seemed at least straightforward because one had no expectations that it would be easy.

Earlier, I indicated that I have two speeds: slow and stop.  I keep my rest periods short because a slow walk means a long time to go the distance. Later, I identified a speed between slow and stop: the dawdle.  I find I am prone to dawdle when I lose concentration, especially on an upgrade. When I refocus on the task at hand, I may have covered a hundred yards or so at a dawdle of perhaps one mph.  This can repeat itself all too easily. Now one mph is not a viable speed to cover seventeen miles in a day, and recognizing this I constantly reminded myself to step out more. My walking speed is then more like 2 mph, giving an average (counting stops) of between 2 and 2 mph.

Approaching Shap summit, the wind was fierce, but fortunately from behind. The summit area would seem to be a good place for a wind farm.

The lambs are smaller in these parts (later spring?), and were more fun to watch. Their habit of taking cover behind their mothers when a human is close had an amusing instance when two lambs were close to me without their mother. Now lamb A tried to take cover behind lamb B, followed quickly by lamb B trying to get behind lamb A, and so it went on.

Today, I also saw piglets, and chickens with a couple of very large roosters.

The Greyhound Hotel dates back to 1680, though like all such places still in business, there have been more recent additions and renovations. It's known for its restaurant, where I had loin of lamb. The food was good but they took 25 minutes to take my order in an empty restaurant. No wonder I find myself eating supermarket food in my room so much. But, as I relate tomorrow, breakfast was something to write home about.

I just about reached the 500-mile mark today. As a transportation enthusiast, I once remarked on this distance as being about what an airplane does in an hour, a car or ship in a day (for the ship, that's 24 hours), a biker in a week, and a hiker in a month. In fact, I'd been going for 31 days now or exactly a month.
Day N30                             2007 and 2008 Daryl May                             Day N32