Patterdale to Shap-Friday 21

Okay, this is the big one: 16 miles. Half as far again as our average. Marty wants you to note the picture: in the thumbnail, the cameraman is missing. Marty took another photo (with him gone, and Adam in his place) and then edited in the extra body. As shown in the full size version.

The route takes us out of the Lake District, and on towards the Dales, but not before one last long climb (three and a half hours). The gradient is relatively gentle however, and the views are as stunning as ever--especially with the dappling sunlight on the hills, and the dramatic colors of the the thunder clouds. So we go up the hill, down the other side, along the reservoir and then out into the new countryside for the last four miles or so.

As usual, the weather is pretty horrible on top. In five minutes we go from sunshine to wet and cold. Claudia and I spend ten minutes sheltering behind a rock while she piles on extra clothes. We can see the clouds billowing over the pass we've just come through. Cold, blustery wind, showering on and off, continues all the way down to the reservoir. Classic English weather: when the sun shines it's too hot to wear the rain gear. When it starts to rain, you barely have time to waterproof yourself before it stops again. Most of us give up, get wet, and let the sun dry us out again.

We meet a couple of fellow Coast-to-Coasters right on the top, and persuade them not to take the path down into the wrong valley.

It's a 10-hour day, and the B&B is as far to the other end of the village as it could possibly be. On the plus side, it is set back from the road (which is quite busy) and is right opposite a pub. When we arrive, our landlady shoos us into the little walled garden in front of the house where we wait while they move a herd of cows past.

Claudia collapses on the bed and refuses to walk another step. The rest of us take turns to shower and then head for the pub on the other side of the street. The nut roast family we've been passing, and been passed by, for the last three days, is staying in the pub. We buy each other a beer, and say good-bye--they're going further than us tomorrow, and we'll never catch them up again. We spend five minutes talking to them--longer than the other three days put together.