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Welcome to my personal blog. Squirrel(!) is such an appropriate title for this spot on the Internet. This began as a way to share the journal from my walk across England with hubby Jan. That trip is archived here for you to enjoy (June of 2012), but now when you visit you'll read my crazy musings on everything from horses, to cars, to grammar, to books, baseball, or weasels. Don't get whiplash trying to figure out a theme; just watch out for the squirrels!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Days 5 & 6

Day 5 – To Bampton (12 miles)

Happy birthday to Jan today!  We left the White Lion Inn in Patterdale after saying good-bye to several new friends who are walking farther today than we are.   
Patterdale from the climb out of the valley - The White Lion is the large white building in the center.
Joy and Andrew are one of the couples heading all the way to the town of Shap, 16 miles away.  Then they’re going to Kirkby Stephen, another 16 miles, the next day. We hope to catch up with them again in three days because they’re taking a rest day after which their schedule matches ours until the end.  Meanwhile, we’re taking three days to reach Kirkby Stephen.
The trek today started with an uphill climb that made my knee hurt for an hour. Then all the ligaments settled in for the walk and we got to enjoy gorgeous views of Patterdale as we ascended for more of the Lake Country peaks.
The lane leaving Patterdale

Looking back on Patterdale from the mountainside

There weren’t any rock face scrambles today, but one of the goals was reaching Kidsty (pronounced Kid-stee) Pike.
Kidsty Pike
The rumor was, however, coming down from the climb was murderous.  Chatting with our friends Elaine and David, however, we learned there was an alternate route, across more uplands with a gentler descent. When Andy (who seems to know this area like the stairs in his own house) agreed the walk would be pretty and flatter, Jan, the birthday boy, chose that path. It was the right decision. 

Joy and Andy after giving Jan a birthday card on the mountain! They went to Kidsty, we went cross country.

Angle Tarn
Precisely as we emerged from a descent through a crazy fern forest a couple of hours later, we met up with Steff and Julia who’d gone the “real” way. They were cursing the awful Kidsty Peak descent and we were fairly fresh.
Here we are on our lunch break -- quite a cafe, don't you think?
We said a final good-bye to the girls at the tiny village of Burnbanks and headed for our B&B at Bampton. When we finally reached our destination, nearly two miles off the Coast to Coast path, we found ourselves at the Bampton Village Store, Tea Room and Post Office run by John and Janet Stones. John was a super talkative fellow, glad to see us and very proud of the newly remodeled apartment he had for us.  It really was a beautiful place. 

Our lovely room in Bampton -- doesn't look much like a Village Store!
We ate dinner in the next tiny village of Bampton Grange at a really fancy inn called The Crown and Mitre. We got to spend the evening with friends Jo and Bill who delighted us with stories about what they do (Bill’s a physicist at the University of London, and Jo’s an accountant for BP), what they think of politics, and where they like to hike.  Such lovely people – and Jo has the prettiest accent; it’s like Julie Andrews with a little added sugar!

Day 6 – To Orton (11 miles)

Today the landscape truly started to change as we hiked away from the Lake District toward the rolling dales (valleys) of Yorkshire. We left Bampton through the most beautiful meadow of blooming wildflowers: lemony buttercups, magenta clover, snowy yarrow and tall, red wheat grass. 

We've crossed literally hundreds of these stiles

We headed for Shap, where so many of our fellow walkers had headed the day before. Today the way was through sheep pastures rather than over mountains.  Over the last decade, England has passed “right to roam” laws, and many farm fields now have designated public paths through them where walkers are allowed to hike. The way from field to field on these paths is over stiles – small breaks in the stone walls where walkers (but not sheep) can clamber over stepping stones or through narrow gates.
We reached Shap—the first major town we’ve hiked through without stopping. These northern English towns are a mixture of the modern and the historic – old stone houses, new grocery stores, parks and motorways.
We got to wander through the ruins of Shap Abbey (destroyed by Henry VIII’s goons) where the local monks were far from cloistered – instead they did much to help the locals. Now there’s nothing left but the footprint and part of the tower. The rest was “cannibalized” to build the homes and structures throughout the area.  We caught up with Mathieu at the site, visited a little, and then left him reading the information signs at the Abbey. We never know where he’ll pop up, but he has a knack, as I’ve said, for getting where he needs to go!

Two pictures of the ruins at Shap Abbey
We left Shap over the M6 highway and headed for the moors – desolate but still beautiful, and still full of sheep!  We reached the village of Orton via a gorgeous old bridge (they’re nearly as plentiful as the stone walls). We were greeted here by the town’s unique tribute to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.  (The celebration, by the way, was huge everywhere in England. There are Union Jacks flying and flag pennants on houses, fences and businesses all over the place.  Many Brits have told us this is quite unusual – the English rarely fly their flag in their homes.)

The Moors

Orton's Tribute to the Diamond Jubilee

Nothing was open in Orton by the time we arrived – not even the Chocolate shop we’d hoped to visit. But we found Mostyn House—our B&B—with little problem and met our landlady, who has my favorite name so far: Mrs. Olive Bland. She’s a delightful lady with a warm home and a place to do washing.  It was about time – I was nearly out of clean knickers!! 
Mostyn House

The Dessert Menu at the George Hotel

Dinner was at the George Hotel a couple blocks away where a group of a dozen or so Aussies on a guided Coast to Coast walk were also dining. They were all older than we are so we felt reassured that maybe we aren’t always the slowest hikers on the path. (More on THAT to come!)

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