Post 31: We eventually found our bed and breakfast and, suffice to say, it was the worst I had ever stayed in. The evening meal consisted of a dollop of mashed potato, one sausage and half a dozen peas. Does this lady not know we had walked 62½ miles to get here? The only thing she seemed keen to provide was newspaper to help dry out our soaking boots; would this be extra on the bill? The house was well ventilated as the windows had huge gaps round them. I would have thought that double-glazing salesmen would have a field day here, but perhaps they haven’t found Shap yet; they have found everywhere else in the British Isles. I am thinking of taking out a court injunction at home to stop me being harassed by double-glazing salesmen.
‘No, no, I don’t want to have my windows replaced yet’
‘When would you like them fitted sir?’
‘Not until the windows drop out. Go to Shap instead.’
It was the bed and breakfast from hell, when you least wanted it. I decided the only escape was the pub, but Archie, suffering from malnutrition, was too tired to even walk the few hundred yards. I also felt exhausted, but remembered I had a wife and two children and needed to make a call home (no mobile phones or email then!) from the local red coin-box phone, to re-assure them they still had a husband and father.
On the way back from the telephone, I noticed the Black Country Stompers in a pub and, not being anti-social, decided to join them. It turned out that they had back-up transport carrying their main luggage for them, no wonder they looked so well, whilst I felt tired out. This was a serious matter, which I referred to the Long-distance Walkers’ ‘Ethics ’ Committee. The decision was that although this was permitted it was not to be encouraged as it detracts from the sense of independence that one gets from carrying a thirty-pound pack. What is this committee? I am the Chairman and Gary is the Secretary. It was formed in a pub when we had nothing else to do for three hours. Its aims are:
1) To encourage interest in and enjoyment of long-distance walking, both for individuals and groups, according to ability and experience.
2) To determine definitive rulings on moral and practical issues concerned with long-distance walking and maintain the highest standards of behaviour of participants (e.g. allowable route, permitted use of transport off the route).
3) To provide a source of information to members and others on new developments, new routes, equipment, literature and courses available.
To encourage you in the history of Shap try and visit the Abbey ruins which were established in 1199, before falling into the destructive hands of Henry VIII in 1540 and fell into disrepair and ruin. He has a lot to answer for! There are famous Shap stones hereabouts, erratic huge granite boulders.
3 April 1991: Day 6 – Shap to Kirkby Stephen Youth Hostel – 22 miles
I woke up thinking I was at the end of the earth. I had a headache and the number 22 was spinning round in my head. Surely, we didn’t have to walk 22 miles today? We walked 19 yesterday; Wainwright was going down in the popularity stakes. Having totally criticised the bed and breakfast, I have to say the breakfast was excellent, a real ‘heart attack breakfast’; after it I felt like a ‘New Man’. On a long-distance walk, fruit-juice, bacon, eggs, sausages, tomatoes, mushrooms, black pudding, fried bread, cereals, toast, coffee is just what the doctor ordered and keeps you going until about 10.30am. If not doing a long-distance walk it is sufficient to give you a heart attack.
It was an early start as we left Shap at 8.45am, with dramatic skies over the Lakeland Fells, sadly left behind We soon reached the M6, a tarmac snake of six lanes. As we looked down on the roaring traffic, this was strangely one of the most uplifting experiences of the walk. I realised how good it was to be away from so called ‘civilisation’. The cars were going seventy to eighty miles per hour, caught up in the ‘rat race’. We were walking at the grand speed of three miles per hour, four downhill and two uphill, free as birds. Yes, it was good to be doing Coast to Coast, and good to be away from the trappings of the modern world; the hardships of Shap were not so bad after all.