Return to Shap Abbey

The church bells were chiming nine as we walked through Bampton Grange, on our short ramble from Bampton to Shap Abbey. We last did this walk before the last lockdown and thought it worth repeating.

Shap Abbey

There’s something of the nature of a pilgrimage in walking to some ancient holy ruin – whether you are religious or not. Just the knowledge that you are perhaps walking in the footsteps of folk right back to medieval times. And this is rather a lovely walk in a quiet corner of the Lake District. So many pass through on their way to Hawes Water and the higher fells. But this is a place to linger.

A View From A Hill
Bampton Grange Church

Much of the way is along the River Lowther and the scenery is very fine. Deep wooded valleys, distant views and heath.

The Old Bridge

From Bampton village hall, we walked down to Bampton Grange, then to Rosgill Bridge, following the Coast to Coast Path to Shap Abbey, before returning to Rosgill on the far side of the Lowther.

Marsh Marigold

There is some lovely vernacular architecture as well, both in the villages and in the farmhouses and barns. Unspoiled a lot of them – passing them you could well believe you are in a past age.

An Abbot’s Tomb

Seeing the abbey from a distance, I was reminded of M.R. James’ splendid ghost story (one of my favourites) A View From a Hill, where a man sees a distant abbey – and much more – through a pair of binoculars. I recommend it to you if you like ghost stories. What I love about M.R. James is his splendid descriptions of landscape, which he conjures up in few lines. He also wrote an excellent book on abbeys.

Shap Abbey (free admission) was wrecked by order of Henry VIII, the way he did, and the Premonstratensian monks were evicted. It’s a beautiful ruin, with a farm hard by. Sitting there on a quiet day, you can almost hear the chanting of the long-gone monks. Apart from ramblers and Coast to Coast walkers, I suspect it doesn’t get many visitors, which is a shame.

The Path from Bampton Grange

Another place to linger on a nice day.

Parish Crag Bridge

A walk to be recommended – and worth re-walking at different times of the year.

(c) Text and Pictures J and A Bainbridge

By John Bainbridge

Rambler, hillwalker, stravaiger and trespasser, access campaigner. Novelist writing historical and period crime fiction.

7 comments

  1. My Mum and me went to Shap Abbey – my Dad seemed to have stopped coming with us on camping trips in our camping van by then (not sure why – I’m sure neither of us snore!) We haven’t done that walk though – I think Wainwright mentions it in one of his books?

    Liked by 1 person

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