Shap Market Cross
|Penrith and the Border|
Shap is a linear village in Westmorland. It lies among the fells of the Lake District in what was once an isolated spot, and by most measures it remains so but for passing through of the A6 road, the West Coast Main Line, and nearby the M6 motorway, all taking advantage of a pass over the fells.
Early forms such as Hep and Yheppe point to an Old Norse rendering Hjáp of an Old English]] original Heap, perhaps referring to an ancient cairn or stone circle.
The village has four pubs, a small supermarket, a fish and chip shop, an antique book shop, a butcher's shop, a primary school, a newsagent's, a coffee shop, a ceramic art studio called Edge Ceramics, a fire station, a bank (only open 4 hours a week), a shoe shop (New Balance factory shop) the parish church (Church of England) and 3 B&B/ Hostels.
The parish church is St Michael's, serving the parish of Shap with Swindale.
Major employers in the area are Hanson and Tata Steel.
Although Shap is geographically a small village, it is legally a market town with a charter dating from the 17th century. At one time, the granite works (which are situated about a mile outside the village) was in itself a separate community, with its own Co-op store.
Shap is on the route of the Coast to Coast Walk. There are a few places to stop on this long walk once arriving in Shap. The New Ing Lodge, the Hermitage, Brookfield House, Green Farm (camping) and the King's Arms and Greyhound pubs.
On 22 October 1999, a Hawk jet from RAF Leeming crashed into an empty barn in the village before disintegrating across the A6 and West Coast railway line, killing its two-man crew.
The Lancaster and Carlisle Railway (now part of the West Coast Main Line), opened on 17 December 1846, and runs along the eastern edge of the village, but Shap railway station was closed in 1968, though there have been recent calls for its re-opening. The village sits on the A6 main road, and until the building of the M6, all of the main west coast road traffic ran through the village. Shap has easy access to the M6.
Shap Summit is a point on the motorway and a point on the railway, so called as it is the highest point on each; on the motorway the summit is at NY583120 at 1,050 feet feet above sea level, and on the railway at NY570110 (984 feet).
Shap Fell used to be notorious for the difficult and dangerous stretch of A6 for drivers, and it includes a well-known section of the West Coast Main Line. It has a 1:75 gradient for trains heading north, and in the days of steam locomotives banking engines from Tebay were often being used to assist trains. It has been popular with railway photographers and there have been many pictures published taken in the area, most notably at Scout Green which lies on the southern approach to the hill.
Shap Abbey NY547151 is nearby in the secluded valley of the river Lowther. It stands impressive and in ruins. It was built in 1199.
Shap Wells has a mineral spa located in the grounds of the Shap Wells hotel which was used in Second World War as a prisoner of war camp.
Some of the scenes in the feature film Withnail and I were filmed around Shap. Sleddale Hall, the filming location for Uncle Monty's cottage Crow Crag, is located near Wet Sleddale Reservoir.
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