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DAY 4. Tuesday 20th June 2006 - Patterdale to Shap
"Kidsty Pike: it's summit is the best station for taking a last long look at the serrated mountain skyline of Lakeland, the likes of which will not be seen again this side of the North Sea"
The weatherman promised and delivered rain before the day was out and they weren't wrong, the last few hours of the walk were in torrential rain. However, it was what the weatherman failed to mention that was to cause us and the others heading towards Shap today very big problems.
Nothing particularly unpleasant at the start as we left the guest house and started the long climb out of Patterdale, there you are, everyday starts with a climb! We were quite looking forward to today as we would pass the point where Kev gave in 25 years ago, it was quite a poignant moment as we approached Angle Tarn and slipped past this idyllic little tarn hidden away behind rocky crags.
Clouds were building over in the west obscuring the views back across Lakeland. The wind was also starting to pick up as we turned East towards The Knott, in fact it was becoming difficult to stay upright, waterproofs and windproof jackets were hastily being put on.
The wind grew stronger as we made our way towards Kidsty Pike, so severe that really we didn't get the time to appreciate that we were leaving the Lakes and heading towards a whole new region and scenery. We met up with Dominic who had walked with us for part of the way yesterday. Due to the weather he has abandoned plans to camp out under his tarpaulin, a very wise decision! The trekking poles were coming in handy now to keep us on our feet as the wind caught us from the side in unexpected blasts, we were almost rowing with them against the force of the wind.
At one point it was so strong it blew Kev over, then the raincover on his rucksack shot off into the distance. We were struggling to keep moving but made it to the top, the last Lakeland Hill on the walk, all downhill now! Every time Kev turned round to speak the wind filled his mouth vibrating his cheeks so much he looked like a jet pilot with G Force pulling on his face!
The wind seemed even stronger coming off the top of Kidsty Pike and Lizzie was blown off her feet, twisting her ankle, then managed to get up only to be caught again and ending up on the ground for a second time. The ankle taking the force of the fall, reducing Lizzie to having to hobble downhill while facing the full wrath of the wind. Not easy!
Things were not looking good for the rest of the descent and Kev was beginning to worry that Lizzie would not be able to make it to Shap - however he had not reckoned with Lizzie's determination (though if she had really realised how far it was still to go I'm not sure if she would have made it).
Dominic was really good making sure Lizzie was ok and then waiting for us to make sure that we were safely down at the bottom before he set off on the long trek above the man made lake Haweswater. The path around the lake was not as flat as we expected with some little inclines and very rocky. It was however quite sad to reach the end of the lake knowing that we were leaving the lake district behind.
Time has erased the villages obliterated by the water and like a Capability Brown garden everything now looked natural, except that is for the very surreal 'new model village' by the dam, little identical bungalows, people vacuuming the lawn! It was all a bit like the town in Stepford Wives! Gradually Lizzie's ankle loosened up a bit and we made good progress until finally just after Kev had put away his waterproofs, fooled by the sunshine, the rain came - in torrents just to make up for the dry spell during the afternoon. We had a very wet two hours before finally reaching Shap.
It was a bit of an International day today, first we had the American's, some of whom had stayed at the same guest house as us last night, they may not have realised that bacon doesn't come with a vegetarian breakfast but in terms of kit they had the works, walkie talkies, GPs and enough hardware to invade a small Cumbrian hamlet.
Then the Dutch, 8 women and one guy, taking a very laid back attitude towards the walk.
The guy who appeared to be the only one who knew the way left the rest to fend for themselves after a few miles and poncho's may be good for keeping out the rain when cycling in the Lowlands but on top of a Lakeland fell with a gale blowing they become the next best thing to a paraglider.
At one point the lady in front of me took to the air, inventing the sport of poncho gliding - just as my camera was blown out of my hand!
These new International groups though are no competition for our very own 'wagon train' who are still forging ahead in formation, only today it appears that the map carrier has been demoted, his plastic map case empty and the girl now having the map strapped to her back, perhaps the blisters are beginning to take their toll!
We arrived in Shap wet and slightly down only to find that we had a 2 mile walk along this one street village to get to our guest house. With the rain now pelting down we looked at each approaching house hoping that it would be the one - and that we weren't actually heading in the wrong direction!
Then finally the last house, we knocked on the door, dripping wet and squelched around to the back of the house where we could take off our boots and waterproofs. Boots were filled with paper and hung up to dry, socks and other wet clothes put into a bag to be washed and dried overnight! Sitting in the dry cosy lounge of our guest house with tea and cakes watching as the rest of the guests stumble through the doorway eased the pain of today's journey a little.
Showing us to our room Margaret the guest house owner said that you could normally see Kidsty Pike out of the window, but of course not on a day like today. A few weeks ago she advised, a man staying there had been blown over, 'he was quite a large man as well!' Yes it was Stuart, Lone Walker, the person behind the Walking Places website!
We knew exactly how strong the wind could be, unfortunately Lizzie's ankle is bruised and swollen and with another long day ahead of us tomorrow we are hoping for kinder weather but before that we made one more trip out into the rain to get some food in the local pub! - where at long last we got to properly meet Nigel, he of the 50lb rucksack fame. He had managed to get to Shap and was putting up his tent, just as the rain started, we wouldn't have enjoyed spending the wet windy night under canvas.
As we were about to leave the pub we were startled to see the man from the Dutch group saunter in looking very immaculate and dry, he already had his room key, even though it was obvious he had only just arrived at the pub as he asked where he would find his room.
A magic key? And how on earth had he managed to stay so dry? It was absolutely bucketing it down. This question was to puzzle us for a while.
We headed back to the guest house sheltering under a very large umbrella and joined the others in the guest lounge, Lizzie had the ice pack on the swollen ankle as we watched England in the World Cup, very nerve - wracking, England that is not Lizzie's ankle!