It’s sometimes difficult for people to grasp that for most of history, it was really quite hard to get into Cumbria. We see that whalloping great stripe of motorway cutting up the Eden Valley, interlinking with various roads west, and can’t imagine that for a long time it was actually rather tricky to traverse.
I remember that my Cumbrian granda (never grandad. Cumbrian grandfathers have no last consonant) always added the word, ‘up’ to Shap. You never went ‘to’ Shap, or ‘through’ Shap; always ‘up’ Shap. And whilst we know intellectually that Shap is very high – at 1,050ft it’s the highest point of the M6 – it doesn’t seem that bad because the incline is gradual and modern cars have no difficulty with it.