A Walk to Shap Abbey

The church bells were chiming nine as we walked through Bampton Grange, on our short ramble from Bampton to Shap Abbey – a walk we had been meaning to do for a long while.

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

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

From Bampton village hall, we walked down to Bampton Grange, then to Rosgill and along the paths to Shap Abbey, before returning to Rosgill by way of Wainwright’s Coast to Coast Path. Indeed, we passed several folk doing the Coast to Coast as we wended our way.

Shap Abbey Ruins

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

We took the high paths from Rosgill and eventually caught glimpses of Shap Abbey in its valley – in the 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.

Did we see some ghostly monk as we approached Shap Abbey? Well, not quite, but I did see something I can’t explain, so read on…

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 in a nice day.

We followed the Coast to Coast Path on the way back, and, as we were crossing the enclosed rough country above the Abbey Bridge, I saw two ramblers coming towards us. A tall man in a green anorak with grey hair and a shorter grey haired woman.

I saw them quite clearly, for they were no more than a hundred yards in front of us. I began to anticipate the social distancing to come, and looked down to avoid a boggy bit of path. When I looked up again, they had vanished. Very odd, for the enclosure has a good stone wall on one side and a slope on the other, with no places of concealment. Ghostly fellwalkers revisiting their favourite rambles, perhaps?

There was no way that anyone could disappear there in just a few seconds.

On the way to Rosgill, we crossed the gorgeous little pack horse bridge known as Parish Crag Bridge. Another lovely spot to linger and a wonderful bit of vernacular bridge building.

Soon afterwards we crossed Rosgill Bridge and retraced out footsteps back to Bampton Grange and then Bampton, diverting to the chapel at Bampton Grange where jams and chutneys are sold with an honesty box outside.

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.

Published by John Bainbridge

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

12 thoughts on “A Walk to Shap Abbey

  1. I’ve had that a few times where I’ve seen someone close by and then they’ve disappeared – one was wearing bright red too. It happened just the other day but I think I must be getting used to it because I can’t remember where I was or what hill I was doing now.

    I’ve camped in my car by the river in either Bampton or Bampton Grange. And the road hill out of Rosgill holds another memory for me. My mother, her friend and I were driving up the hill in Mum’s automatic Renault car. This used to overheat if you took it up a steep hill and it obviously found Rosgill Hill way too long and steep as it overheated halfway up on a bend. I distinctly remember us getting out, opening the bonnet and standing wafting the engine with the large A3 road atlas until it cooled enough for us to drive on home! LOL

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A wonderful read, John, I thoroughly enjoyed this. Almost eerie timing as well, as I’ve just been to an abbey ruin too! I’d never heard of Shap Abbey before, but it looks well worth a visit, so will make sure I find it when we’re up there next. The ruins look incredibly atmospheric, and that tomb of the abbot is worth the trek alone. I love the look of Parish Crag bridge, too. And an intriguing story about the ‘ghostly’ ramblers. Weirdly, the same thing happened to me at Stowe Landscape Gardens a few years ago. I was one of the first people there in the morning and had got quite a way into the gardens to a quieter part, when I saw a lady with a small dog on a lead coming towards me out of a wooded area. For some reason I suddenly felt as though I’d got a twig or something wrapped around my boot, so I bent down to remove it but there was nothing there, and when I stood up to greet her as we passed she’d vanished, dog and all. Again, nowhere to hide, so it was a real mystery. I was a bit taken aback at the time, but not at all afraid. Perhaps as it’s happened to you too that it’s a particular paranormal ‘thing’. Fascinating.

    This is the kind of walk I love best, especially, as you say, because you can feel you’re walking in the footsteps of medieval folk. What a way to connect with the past -gorgeous scenery, atmospheric ruins and a ghost or two. Perfect. Thanks for a super read. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think there’s definitely something we don’t understand yet about the way nature and physics work. Scientists except the concept of parallel universes, so perhaps they meet in certain places or conditions? The abbey is a treat and so much less crowded than most. Regards John.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I could easily believe that theory, John. I remember learniing in a documentary about space once that we humans understand a sum total of 4% of the universe, so in my view, anything’s possible. There’s more to our world than we’ll ever know.
        If the abbey is less crowded then there’s all the more reason to go. Quieter places are so much more atmospheric. That’s why I often prefer to go to castles in less clement weather.
        I also meant to say, ‘A View from A Hill’ is one of my favourite M R James stories. Very chilling!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Looks a great walk. Have visited Shap Abbey and visited Bampton but not on the same day. I thought you may have seen ghostly monks but not rambling ghosts. 👀 I have bought blackcurrant jam from the honesty box before, it was very good. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

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