You know those places that you take for granted? The ones right on your doorstep, which you've always known about and therefore never really think about too much?
For me, Shap Abbey is one of those. I grew up just a short walk away from it - just a couple of fields away, in fact. (Yes, I do live in the sort of place where distances are measured in fields.) A couple of weeks ago, I used what might be the last of this summer's sun to wander over there with my mum and my camera, with the intention of looking around. And I mean really looking around, the way it's easy not to look when a place becomes familiar.
It's a fascinating piece of history to have on your doorstep - definitely somewhere I should visit more often, especially given the distance (or lack of it).
But for me, the historic ruin is not the abbey's only attraction. There's also the stunning natural surroundings (pretty much a given in this part of the world, on the border of the Lake District National Park - although by no means less significant because of their expectedness). There's the fact that the nearby bridges and the next-door farm are impressively built using
reclaimed stolen stones from the Abbey, which makes for a beautiful grandeur in the stonework. But my favourite part has to be the sheep dip.
Yes, you read that right: sheep dip.