Stone world

Stone world

To walk the C2C is to travel through a world of miraculous stone walls. Timeless reminders of man’s impact on the landscape, the scale of these incredible structures takes your breath away. Hundreds of years old, they have outlived generation after generation of shepherds, farmers, landowners and labourers. Some have stood unscathed by weather or time; some have been skilfully repaired; others are all higgledy-piggledy, bearing the scars of years of dilapidation or neglect.

And as you move through the landscape the walls tell you the story, if you could but read it, of geology and geography and of history too. Their character changes: walls built from rough but rounded stones in The Lakes have gradually given way to flatter, thinner stone making walls that look more regular and seem more stable and enduring. So the styles reflect the materials – or rather how geology and time has shaped the same basic material. Moss drapes itself darkly over walls that have been damp for years; lichen colours them in silver and yellow; plants have found sanctuary and dug roots between the crevasses. It’s like a massive piece of installation art.

You walk, day after day, beside, through or over, these walls. They’re like a web threaded across the fells, down into the dales, up on the moors and deep in the valleys. They go on and on weaving their way forever. And they make you marvel at the skill and artistry. And they make you speechless at the effort, the countless man-years.

It’s the end of Day 7 and we’re shacked up at the hostel in Kirkby Stephen. Tomorrow we reach the halfway point….