Shap Abbey

FROM the long village of Shap this walk follows the line of the River Lowther to visit Shap Abbey, writes JOHN EDMONDSON. It then continues to the village of Rosgill and returns in an almost straight line to Shap. It’s a pleasant ramble with historical interest and no steep hills. Parking, toilets and the abbey visit are all free.

Start from the car park in Shap next to the bowling green, grid reference NY 563 150, postcode CL10 3LJ.


Distance: 7.3 miles with 900 feet of ascent

Time: 3.5 hours

Terrain: field paths and tracks

Map: OS Explorer OL5


1 Cross the zebra crossing, turn right then left along Cross Garth (signed Shap Health Centre). Take the first right (Back Lane) then after Wasdale house turn left on to the footpath signed Keld. The path passes the 10-feet high Goggleby Stone, one of five megalithic monuments that form a two-mile line from South Shap stone circle to the Thunder Stone, which is three quarters of a mile to the north west. Turn left along a walled track past cottages (Coppy Hill Farm) then turn right down a tarmacked lane and cross the River Lowther via stepping stones. Turn right after passing the 18th Century Steps Hall, keeping above the boggy area. Follow a grassy track to a bend in the river. After passing Thornship stepping stones follow a grassy uphill track to the left. Descend along the line of overhead power cables to a road bridge. Cross the bridge and walk along the tarmacked lane into Keld, which is an old Norse word for spring.

2 Turn left on to the path signed Shap Abbey, going past a tennis court. Cross the ladder stile then bear right to near the end of a long field. Cross a wall stile on the left and continue in the same direction. After Shap Abbey appears through the trees on the left descend to a concrete road, cross the footbridge next to the car park and visit the abbey ruins. Founded in the late 12th Century, Shap Abbey was one of 32 religious houses in Britain belonging to an order of canons founded in France. They were known as the 'white canons' because of their white woollen habits.

3 Return to a wicket gate up to the left of the footbridge and follow a path above the pretty river valley. Go uphill and then descending below overhead power lines, over a wall stile and across a reedy field to a fingerpost. Turn right down the tarmacked lane signed Rosgill and keep straight on where the lane bends left. Follow the waymarked path, crossing a beck via the attractive Parish Crag packhorse bridge. Turn right on to the road, cross the bridge then walk up into Rosgill (which means the ravine with a stream where horses graze).

4 Take the second of two signed footpaths on the right, going between two cream cottages. At a gateway take the path bearing left uphill to the left of a larch copse. Go through a gated gap stile and across multiple fields in the direction shown by waymarkers, via stiles with helpfully painted green stones and posts. The path heads in a near straight line to Shap, meeting a road at a stile in a field corner to the right of a well preserved limekiln. Turn right then left across a road on to the footpath signed Shap. Turn left on the road and where it bends right, keep right on to a walled footpath. On meeting a road turn left then right at the fire station and along the A6 back to the car park.

Next week: Grayrigg Whinhowe

NB: restrictions on space mean that this article provides a general summary of the route. It is advisable for anyone who plans to follow the walk to take a copy of the relevant Ordnance Survey map.