Kirkstone & Shap
Stats: 53 miles and 3850 feet of ascent
Wilf’s cafe at Staveley, Mortal Man at Troutbeck, Brotherswater Inn, Patterdale Hotel, Granny Dowbekin’s Tea Rooms at Pooley Bridge.
A grand loop patrolling the perimeter of Wainwright’s Far Eastern Fells, with two good-value pulls and some beautiful scenery. You’ll probably know the delights of Kirkstone and Ullswater but, if you’ve only ever crossed Shap by motorway, you’ll be surprised how enjoyable is the descent into Longsleddale.
1. Start in Staveley, heading west. Join the A591 and go west for a mile, turning right as you leave Ings (signposted to High Borrans)
2. Switchback across the flank of Sour Howes, with beautiful views across the Rothay valley to the Coniston and Langdale fells.
3. Turn right on the A592 and follow this up the Troutbeck valley, over Kirkstone and down to Brotherswater, Patterdale and the shores of Ullswater.
4. At the end of the lake, turn right to Pooley Bridge on the B5320.
5. Where the road veers left, turn right to Celleron and Askham.
6. Go south through Askham and Butterwick, then turn right in Bampton, over the humpback bridge signposted to Haweswater and Mardale.
7. Swing round to the left, ignoring the right turn to Burnbanks. After the bridge across the Haweswater outflow, turn left at an unsigned staggered junction.
8. Keep contouring the flanks of the fells, sticking to the lane until you meet the A6.
9. Follow the A6 down through glorious, sinuous curves until you see a hard right turn signposted to Longsleddale. Take it.
10. At the bottom, turn left over the River Sprint at Garnett Bridge, signposted to Burneside. If you start to feel a nostalgic familiarity with the landscape around you, this isn’t an accident; Longsleddale was the inspiration for Postman Pat’s Greendale.
11. After a slight climb, turn right into Potter Fell Road. This isn’t signed but there’s a stone-posted gate on the left and a 6’6″ sign coming the other way.
12. At the end, turn hard right by a mossy wall and a stream overhung by trees. By now, you should be able to smell the jacket potatoes baking at Wilf’s so get yourself carbed up.