Day Six

Bampton Grange to Orton (11 Miles)

Things felt different when we woke up on day 6. It wasn’t the weather because we could hear the rain hitting the window and it wasn’t the breakfast because that was yet more of the same, being primarily egg joined by lots of meat. I think it was the fact that we had reached a point in the walk where what lay ahead wasn’t so researched. In the months of planning we had really concentrated on the Lake District section, not just because it was the first bit but more because we thought it would be the most difficult terrain and here there could be physical challenges aswell as map-reading ones. Neither of us knew off the top of our heads what this day involved. This is where the copious day notes came into their own for the first time. They included the relevant pages torn out of the ‘Steadman’ guide along with typed notes about anything unusual we might expect to encounter. Also phone numbers of places we needed to phone ahead for future stops to order lunches etc and places we could stop to stock up on provisions or to eat that evening. Sixteen of these sets of notes were stuffed into a transparent map cover and dangled like a dead weight handing around my neck. Nige made the sensible suggestion on this morning that perhaps we should pack the 15 days’ worth of paper not needed into the suitcase and lighten the load. Genius.

There were no difficulties starting this days walk as the path began virtually outside the front door of the Crown and Mitre, firstly through the churchyard then on through several fields in the direction of Shap.

The pub was still in view as we made our first stop to put on full waterproofs. In the near distance, to the West, we could still see the hills and mountains of the Lake District shrouded in low cloud.

In no time we had made it to the village of Shap. Nige surprised me by telling me his mother had been evacuated to Shap during World War 2 and he had visited the place long ago for that reason. There wasn’t a lot to hang about for except a Co-op where we stocked up on essentials like Kendal mint cake and chocolate. The landlady at the Crown and Mitre had told us of a sandwich shop in Shap called Cream 17 which made up packed lunches so we stopped and treated ourselves to the best on the menu.

We passed through a few muddy fields in the direction of the bridge crossing the M6. Typically the last field was full of cows and at least 1 very big bull and typically it had to be stood near the stile. We tried to give it as wide a berth as possible, all the while under stare of its beady eye. It was huge and we quickly discussed escape routes and likelihood of 2 of us fighting it off. Anyway, we shuffled quietly ‘round its back end and jumped over the stile double time. All this had masked the roaring noise of the traffic but that hit us now as we climbed the metal stairs and crossed the busy motorway. We could see Merv and Sue a couple of fields back and waited to take a couple of piccies of them crossing over.

All this was a bit of a culture shock after the peace of the Lakes. Arriving at Hardendale Quarry just 20 minutes later didn’t help as we dropped into the quarry itself then climbed back out again.

We didn’t bother with the stone circles marked just after Oddendale because I think we just wanted to get onto open land and put the motorway and quarry as far behind us as fast as possible. We were motoring at a fair speed now but aware that his was a short day and if we weren’t careful we would be in Orton, at our digs, just after lunch. We forced ourselves to stop for an elongated lunch break but, for some reason chose the spot where the Steadman guide said to ‘watch out for adders’.

We nibbled at our deluxe packed lunch because it was still early and had a bit of KMC, took some photos then couldn’t see any reason to hang about any longer. We tried to walk slowly down into Orton but it was all ‘down’ and we couldn’t help picking up speed. We had an episode with a field of Bulls on the final stretch which I documented in that evenings e-mail home and before we knew it we were in the village 2 hours before we could realistically turn up at Mostyn House.

The walk into Orton followed a babbling stream and the first thing that struck us was how quiet the place was. We spotted Mostyn House on the way in but carried further up the main street to find somewhere to kill time. That’s when we spotted it, Kennedys, a factory making and selling fine chocolates. To cap it all it had a coffee house and ice cream parlour attached and before we could get control of ourselves we had blown the following two days budget. Tray loads of chocolate products starting arriving at our table and we gorged ourselves like we hadn’t eaten for days. The truth of it was that we were just glad to be faced with something that wasn’t eggs. We watched Paul and Merlisse, the Dutch couple arrive and do similar. Still, two hours is a long time to sit in a café leaning over one drink and it was pouring down outside so we had to order more hot chocolate which didn’t seem quite so appealing second time around.

We wandered up to Mostyn House and were greeted by a note on the door directing us down the side of the building to a large garage where we were instructed to remove and leave our boots and waterproofs. The garage was well equipped with washing lines and heaters to dry the gear which we were happy to turn our backs on and be shown up the stairs to our spacious room. The landlady was very friendly and said we could use her utility room to wash any clothes which she would make sure were dried by the morning. Nige and I weren’t sure how we felt about the landlady handling our ‘smalls’ but it was a genuine offer and Nige kindly left it to me to wash the gear and sort out the arrangements.

Later on we strolled to the George Hotel in the centre of the village and started on that evening’s quota. The beer was good as was the food but we were sat in a bit of an isolated position between the lounge and tap room. At the table next to us sat a dog with a pint of Guinness.

When we finished eating we went over to sit with Merv and Sue and Paul and Merlisse who, it transpired were also staying at Mostyn House. This turned out to be a really nice evening as people started to open up a bit and talk about more than wet socks and missed turns. Only pure discipline on my part managed to keep us within quota limits. I could see that Nige had crumbled and was open to any suggestion of more alcohol. We braved the elements back up the deserted street to our digs and decided on a time to all meet for breakfast next day.

Date: Wed, 21 Jul 2010 16:39:51 +0000

After the previous days' soaking we were hoping for any sort of sign of an improvement in the weather and got to say we got it (a bit). Landlady at the pub was a bit stuck up and thought it was beneath her to serve us breakfast but Nige loved the place - mainly because of Bella the Barmaid from Bampton Grange. Ok, she did look exactly like Kelly Brook but I had to point out to him that it was unlikely that she would go for someone who smelt of old dog and couldn't read the menu even with his reading glasses on. Anyway, that didn't stop him going on about her as we left the village through the graveyard and set off for Shap. We could still see the pub when we had to stop to don full waterproofs so the optimism was short lived. Fairly dreary up to shap where we had to cross over the M6 motorway and pass through the quarry works. The walk and weather did improve a bit as we approached Orton, our stopping place for the night. We had made good time, infact so good that there was over 2 hours to kill before we could get the room. We slowed down our stroll through the last few fields and it was here that things nearly came to a sticky end. We could see the stile in the distance that we needed to cross was surrounded by cows so we strolled forward slowly without any flapping of arms etc. Nige assured me that they never cause a problem aslong as you are calm and give them enough room so as not to spook them. Then, as the biggest of them came trotting towards us Nige said something along the lines of 'no udders' in a really strange voice and he was off over the wall - quickly followed by me !

The village of Orton had one pub (dump), a phone box (out of order) and a chocolate factory ! Couldn't believe our luck. We killed the spare 2 hours eating and drinking chocolate in Kennedys and staggered off up to the digs for 4pm. Mostyn house was a lovely georgian house with big rooms and the landlady was very helpful. She offered to wash any 'smalls' we needed doing and it was not without a hint of shame that I handed her a steaming pile of wet socks and undies that had been cooking in my suitcase for 3 days. Give her her due, she never said a word when she presented them back to us washed and dried next day.

Evening in the dumpy pub with yet another steak and ale pie but we did sit with two couples we bump into each evening and it turned into one of those nights when the whisky chasers came out and we all had regrets early next morning.

We've done 71 miles and drunk 30 pints of beer and 6 whisky chasers each (still pretty lightweight I know but we're just too tired to stay up past 10pm)

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