Shap Fell, red squirrels, granite and a high hike

Shap is a Cumbrian byword for “cold and bleak” - the highest point on the A6 trunk road over Shap is 426 m. altitude. The area marks a sharp change in the geology which is exploited by several prominent quarries each with different specialities,
Shap granite is famous for large grains of reflective minerals, Shap pink granite looks good polished up and constructed as a kitchen worktop, Shap Blue granite is used as an aggregate for road surfaces. Exposed within this small area there are almost the full range of rocks found in the Lake District.

Shap Wells is a feature where the Blea Beck falls over a geological unconformity, a time jump in the geological layers. There’s a conifer plantation, habitat for a thriving colony of red squirrels, undoubtedly an attraction for the hotel in this remote location.
Hiking on the frosty ground at Wet Sleddale, the high valley of the river Lowther; I enjoyed my picnic lunch on a boulder of Shap granite with typically large crystals of pink orthoclase feldspars and quartz, comparable in size to a 20p piece. This reservoir is part of the complex of water works feeding Haweswater and, ultimately, the water taps in urban Manchester, 100 miles to the south. It’s home to a variety of water birds as well as red squirrels and otters.