Dirgers – David Allen, with Matthew Holt and Claire Baker (honourable mention to Billie the Springer Spaniel)
Having recently taken up a spot of running, and being something of a keen Lyke Wake Walker, my sister in law Jill had decided it was high time I complete a running crossing of the LWW. Before I had the opportunity to object, it was on my diary and “have less of yr bellyaching!” She’s like that, Jill.
I’d not felt anxious about a LWW crossing for some time, but by heck I did for this one… No matter – with my brother in law Matt, mate Claire and Billie (Claire’s Springer Spaniel) leading the way, off we popped.
A word about Matt and Claire: last year Matt completed the Hardmoors 110 and Claire is in training for the same event this year. No pressure to keep up then!
We were supported on the day by Claire’s hubby Jono, an experienced facilitator of crazed folk competing in challenge events and a man who on his dying day ought to be canonized as a saint.
We started strongly – I was feeling very fresh and rattled through the first few miles with ease. With great shock I realized we had passed the trig point on Carlton Bank in under an hour. Conditions were beautiful, with clear skies and a most gratefully received tailwind that blew me right across the tops. Not before too long I dropped down to meet Jono at Clay Bank car park. I was running ahead of Matt and Claire at this point but was under no illusions that the balance of power would shift at some point in the not too distant future.
Through Bloworth Crossing and onto the drudgery of the old railway track; with my head down and keeping a decent pace I overshot the left hand path over Flat Howes and rather disappointingly found the Lion Inn within view. No matter, we pushed on, meeting Jono for a refreshment stop on Blakey Ridge, and continued on our way, leaving the tarmac for Rosedale Moor on 3 hours and 55 minutes.
The bogs were as dry as a bone, save for one or two squidgy bits, with Claire finding herself knee-deep on one occasion. By the time we passed Blue Man there was much fatigue in the old legs, and just in time for the section I had been dreading… The rocky path across Wheeldale Moor; horrible when walking, so trying to trot at pace down the path, and utterly cream-crackered, was a very tough stretch. I very nearly went flying on several occasions and the never-ending foot stubbing took its toll. It’s somewhat difficult to avoid these rocks when you’re “running” without lifting your feet from the ground! By this point Matt and Claire were mere spectres in the distance and I was very happy to see Jono’s car on Wheeldale Road. Pancakes were washed down with flat coke and off I popped once again, having got the worst of it out of the way… Or so I thought!
After crossing Wheeldale Beck and yomping back up t’other side, I tried to pick up the pace again on the level terrain on Howl Moor, but it was really very hard work indeed. I found myself thinking I wasn’t going to get through it and all manner of negative thoughts crept into my mind. Luckily, matters improved after Simon Howe with the descent to the railway track and Fen Bog. With gravity as my co-pilot, my mood lightened and such defeatist notions were banished. Jono was nowhere to be seen at Eller Beck Bridge so we pushed straight past Fylingdales. I dropped to a walking pace for a mile or so here, but after passing Lilla Cross I got shifting again for the trot down Burn Howe Rigg. Jugger Howe came and went and before long I happened upon Jono, Matt and Claire just before the main road. I barely stopped for pause and cracked on towards the mast. Keeping something of a jog going for the final mile and a half I was delighted to reach the LWW stone at a canter… 8 hours and 13 minutes after starting.
I found myself often thinking about a gentleman by the name of Louis Kulscar throughout yesterday’s run. Louis is a stalwart of the Lyke Wake Walk, having completed some 180-odd crossings, including some barefoot and as the legend has it, actually running backwards on one occasion! Louis was the star of a TV documentary on the walk from back in the early seventies, racing along the route with great power and determination; he is a warm and wonderful soul who lights up the annual Wakes and though I am barely fit to lace his boots, I took great inspiration from the man and thank him for the support he unknowingly gave to me yesterday!
00:56:54 Carlton Bank
01:51:49 Clay Bank car park
02:27:50 Bloworth Crossing
03:37:53 Blakey Ridge
03:55:56 Rosedale Moor
04:31:51 Hamer Road
04:46:00 Blue Man I’ Th’ Moss
05:15:15 Wheeldale Road
05:54:58 Eller Beck Bridge
07:10:49 Main road
Archive for the ‘Crossing report’ Category
Dirgers – David Allen, with Matthew Holt and Claire Baker (honourable mention to Billie the Springer Spaniel)
On behalf of Emma Cope, SallyAnn Hardwick and myself, Carole Pitts, I am pleased to report our successful crossing of the Lyke Wake Walk unaided, starting just before midnight on Friday 7 April, completing the walk just after 8pm on Saturday 8 April.
It was a lovely clear night, with the full moon due on the following Tuesday and a good forecast for the weekend. We left Osmotherley around 23:45 on Friday evening, clutching Brian Smailes’ ‘Lyke Wake Walk’ guide and the OS maps for both the west and eastern areas of the North York Moors. Several years ago, I had walked the ‘Coast to Coast walk’, during which I discovered the existence of the ‘Lyke Wake walk’ and was excited to finally be embarking on this adventure.
Head torches on, we soon came across an LWW marker stone and embarked on a ‘kodak moment’ with the moon as a backdrop. After crossing the lane at Huthwaite Green we began our first ascent up to Live Moor. Brian’s book stated ‘with the wind probably getting stronger as you go through a gate to start the steady climb’. How fortunate where we ? There was no wind at all – just a drop in temperature to below freezing as the ground started to glisten with frost. Fortunately we were well equipped with our down jackets and extra layers – nothing was going to stop us achieving our goal. Up we went on to Carlton Moor, looking at the light pollution from Teeside (or was it Middlesborough ?). There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the moon and stars were appearing in their masses. It was simply magical as we plodded on, soon reaching the Lord Stones cafe, which seemed to have gone rather up market since the last time I was there 8 years ago. We didn’t stop to verify as it was around 1am in the morning and didn’t think the residents would appreciate our joyous arrival. On we went across the Moors and scrambled across the Wain stones – pretty eerie but very impressive under the clear night sky.
Soon we were descending Hasty Bank – conversations were of Emma’s home-made sausage rolls and hot chocolate – which we devoured when we found the seat just before the road crossing on Clay Bank road. It was 03:55 and having walked for around 4 hours, we were more than ready for our midnight feast ! After a 30 minute stop, we were off again, and soon on the railway track heading towards the Lion Inn. The dawn was starting to break and it was starting to get light. The moon was literally setting behind us and the sun coming up in front. As we reached Bloworth Crossing, it was time for SallyAnn to perform her morning ablutions , with Emma and I following suit not long after. We still hadn’t met another soul on our walk and felt privileged to have had the moors to ourselves. After what seemed an eternity on the railway track, we spotted the Lion Inn on the horizon. I am sure somebody moved it several times as we approached as it didn’t seem to get any closer. Again in Brian’s book he states that ‘it can be very windy as the wind sweeps up the valley and over the embankments,’ but how lucky were we ? Although the frost was glistening, we were becalmed in the middle of the moors and continued to trudge on towards the Lion Inn. We started to sing to pass the time – don’t ask me what we sang, but fortunately there was still nobody else around to hear our dulcet tones. After realising we’d missed the turning off to the Lion Inn and ended up at the road, my bottom lip started to quiver and I was sulking. Can’t believe we did that adding extra time and distance to the walk.
We reached the Lion Inn at 08:10 and plonked ourselves on the grass verge opposite, looking down in to Rosedale. Kettle on again and it was time for breakfast – porridge pots from Aldi and a brew, followed by flapjack SallyAnn had purchased from her local Deli. Scrummy !!
By 08:55 we had departed and were on our way to find ‘Fat Betty’. We had several renditions of trying to sing ‘Whoa, Black Betty, Bam-ba-Lam’, struggling to remember the words and who sang it. (Note; Google has since answered that for me – ‘Ram Jam’ in 1977 !). On finding ‘Fat Betty’ we again had several Kodak moments, with the bright blue sky behind us in the pictures. The down jackets and layers were starting to come off as the temperature was starting to rise !!!
As we had to ‘march’ along the road for a few miles, it was time to do exercises with our walking poles to relieve some of the monotony and prevent ‘bingo wings’ in the future. Bicep curls, lifting the poles above our head etc. as we sang songs from the jungle book and hummed the tune when the elephants were marching (you know the bit I mean ?).
Soon we reached the turn off for the ‘boggy bit’ and were discussing how fortunate we were that it wasn’t really boggy. How wrong were we ? As we were gossiping and singing so much, we managed to wander off course a bit. A couple of wet feet later and one broken pole which was being used as a depth gauge, we were back on course and aiming for Shunner Howe. It was around this time, about the 24 mile mark (?) that we started to see people who were doing the East-West crossing. There was a group from the Met Police and we came across their support team as we reached the road crossing at Hamer. For the next hour or so we must have seen around 30 people – these were the only other people we saw undertaking the walk all day.
About ½ mile after the road crossing it was 12:00 and time for lunch. Wraps, pretzels, nuts as well as Emma’s home-made quiches and rocky road. That girl is an amazing cook !
We made the terrible mistake of stopping too long for lunch – around 40 minutes. Brian’s book commented ‘Many people say this demanding section is more than 8.5 miles long – usually because they are often feeling stiff by this time and walking at a slower pace’. Brian wasn’t wrong !!!! At any opportunity, Emma and Sallyann would not only sit down, they would lie down, and I was afraid they wouldn’t get up again. Wheeldale Plantation seemed to go on forever to our left, and when we finally reached the road for the descent towards Wheeldale Beck, we had to resort to the ‘emergency wine gums’ to keep us going. SallyAnn also later confessed to having comfort breaks as a sneaky way of getting to sit down and rest again.
A final push up to Simon Howe and we bumped in to some mountain bikers who kindly took a ‘group picture’ of the 3 of us. They went on to tell us they had done the Lyke Wake walk a few years ago and had 16 hours of rain and wind. Again we couldn’t believe how lucky we’d been – no wind or rain with the temperature being around 15 degrees in early April. Only downfall was we’d forgotten the sunblock – which I guess we could be excused for – and all had pink faces in the morning, with Emma getting the prize for the most random sunburn on her arms and neck.
The mountain bikers informed us it was now only 7 miles to the finish – just a couple of hours when they did it. How wrong were they ??? As we were getting tired we managed to wander off course to the East, and then had to cut back again when we came across the railway gorge. A quick burst in to song again ‘If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands’ – along with the actions, and soon we were at the railway crossing. Just before crossing the main road to Whitby at Eller Beck, we saw an older couple sitting in the car park. SallyAnn later confessed she was ready to jump in their car and bail out had they made the offer !
It was now already 4:30pm, with about 7 miles still to go. Off we went along the bridleway, which soon turned in to boggy wet ground again and we lost the path. Tiredness was kicking in and after carefully studying the map along with orientating ourselves with the compass, SallyAnn spotted Lillia Howe on the horizon and we set off in that direction. From that point on the path was pretty straight forward and easy to navigate, but we were tired and progress was slow. We could fully understand why lack of sleep is used as a form of torture. Emma had started to hallucinate and was convinced she had seen brown bears on the moor. Later we all started to agree with her.
Soon I spotted the Beacon at Ravenscar on the horizon, to which Emma’s response was ‘You’ve got to be kidding …..’ (Actually, her language was a bit bluer than that but I can’t print that here ? ). We reached the final road crossing at 7:10pm and then walked together across Stony Marl Moor to the finish, arriving just after 8pm at 8:05pm. Our total crossing time was 20hrs 20 mins – not the fastest time recorded but we were elated. Now there was just the additional 2 ½ miles to walk back to Boggle Hole Youth Hostel where we were staying the night …..
Emma Cope ( Cambridge ), SallyAnn Hardwick ( Liverpool ) and Carole Pitts ( Hertfordshire )
I used to live in Harrogate I did the walk first in the sixties in winter and without support. It took twenty three and a half hours and several toe nails.
Then moved to the flat south and joined the Bury St Edmunds “Up Down and Along” (climbing, caving and walking) club and the badges we had said “support UDA” (which didn’t always go well with the some of the Irish!)
Once a month we hired a transit van on a Friday evening and drove to the mountains and hills. There were few dual carriageways or motorways so the route went through most town centres and therefore we had to stop at every pub on the way until closing time.
I introduced them to the walk and we made it one of our regular venues with one weekend attempt at a double crossing. Some made it but I only managed one and a half due to yet more toenail issues (nothing wrong with the boots, just the feet that were in them)
As I had done the walk several times I chose on one occasion to be the support vehicle driver meeting up with the walkers at the usual road crossings.
It was a bit different to the normal weekend routine as the Saturday morning was spent paddling at Whitby with an early afternoon start (it was mid summer and there was a full moon).
I bid them fair well at Ravenscar and nipped round to the crossing south of the Flask to check that they hadn’t got lost (yet!)
At the Fylingdales crossing all was not well as one of the young maidens was walking with a limp and swollen ankle. Instead of leaving her at the side of the road I took pity and took her into the safe haven of the van on the condition that she didn’t start moaning.
Back to Whitby to pick up fish and chips and meet the group and after the usual rendezvouses got to the Lion at Blakey for “light refreshments”.
Then on into the night…..
There isn’t really a lot you can do in a transit van full of sleeping bags in the early hours of a Sunday morning at the edge of Chop Gate with a young maiden with a sore foot and negligible map reading skills.
They all staggered into Osmotherley on the Sunday morning so we drove to Scarborough and went paddling and eventually got back to Bury St Edmunds in the early hours of Monday.
Being the gentleman that I am I offered her a lift home to save her father having to pick her up.
The attached photograph ( Sadly, we can’t show on this report section ) was found when going through some old albums of the pair of us having finished the walk in just over thirteen hours probably in 1970 on race day (note the badges). We were yet to be married.
Unlikely to do it again but have fond memories. (her map reading skills are still negligible)
Howard (and Dawn) Laver
I am pleased to report my successful West to East crossing over the 4th/5th February. It was a solo undertaking as part of a fundraising challenge in aid of the charity Challenges Worldwide. My apologies for the tardiness of my report. I have been away for much of the time since I completed the walk and as such have only just got round to sending my report.
I started walking at 12am on the 4th with first five hours or so going with-out a hitch. The lights of Teeside guided me along the Cleveland Way running along the ridgelines towards Carlton Bank. However as I started the assent of Hasty Bank the fog came in followed by a good attempt at snow. This made the section to Blowworth Crossing particularly cold and disorientating, with visibility reduced to a couple of meters at the most thanks to the fog. The light of my headtorch only exacerbated this, creating something close to a ‘white-out’ effect! The winding route along the old railway seemed never ending with every looping turn feeling as if it was going on forever. As soon as it started getting light I ditched the head torch and deciding that I would be better off just peering through the mist rather than walking blindly into endless white fog. It was a surreal and somewhat eerie morning, perfectly still apart from the occasional rustle of disgruntled grouse. At this stage my spirits were pretty low, it had been walking for nearly 9 hours, I was falling asleep whilst walking and the thought that I was only half way was rather disheartening. However my morale began to revive as soon I stumbled, damp and tired through the door of the Lion Inn at Blakey to meet my more than patient support team. A full English breakfast and half an hour indoors got me back on track mentally before embarking on the next leg. (Although neither tiredness nor hunger could not coax the black pudding down me!) With a fresh supply of Jelly Babies in my pocket and an upbeat pep talk from the support team I set off eastward again toward the notorious boggy section. Upon reaching the bogs however I was pleasantly surprised. Having imagined I would be virtually swimming through the oozing black muck it become obvious that it was not nearly as wet under foot as I had feared. By this time the fog had pretty well lifted and I managed to negotiate the bogs with relative ease. That said on more than one occasion I would lurch forward as the apparently stable tuft of grass beneath me disappeared into the black ooze along with my leg.
The end of the boggy section to the finish can most accurately be described as a ‘trudge’. With the bizarre pyramid type radar of RAF Fylingdales now visible on the distant horizon I now had tangible evidence I was making headway. (Only when I reached Fylingdales did I realise how naive I had been for thinking that I would be nearly finished when I reached the radar station!) Over the next 10 – 15 miles it seemed to be a matter of crossing a vast expanse of open moorland to the next cairn or piece of high ground and assess how much closer Fylingdales was. It took a while for the strange pyramid to get much bigger on the horizon.
On reaching Eller Beck I very much felt that I was on the final stretch and had a renewed spring in my step. About 2 miles out from Jugger Howe darkness was setting in again and I soon had to resort to the head torch again. However spurred by the thought of the finishing like I had a new release of energy that helped me power down and up the steep ravine at Jugger Howe and on to the finish.
I arrived at the finishing stone drained of energy and my legs aching and sore but brimming with satisfaction that I had completed the walk. Amazingly I did not come across a single other person along the 40 mile route while walking. It was a fantastic challenge, across some awesome spectacular country. However I’m not sure I would do another crossing in February! Total time for the crossing was 19 hours 36 mins with about 17 and a half hours of actual walking time. A huge thank you goes out to my support team Gill Railton and Rona Kermack without whom I could never have completed the walk on my own.
(Members are from Lincolnshire, Notts and Canada)
I have pleasure in reporting to you a successful West to East Winter Crossing, starting from Cod Beck, Osmotherley at 3:20am on 18th February 2017 and finishing at the final stone at 8:58pm, a total time of 17 hours and 38 minutes of which 14 hours and 20 minutes were walking time.
The weather was forecast to be mild for the day of the walk, around 8-9C, with a west to east tailwind of about 10mph. We arrived at the Cote Ghyll Mill Hostel at around 6pm on Friday and went to the Golden Lion for a quick bite to eat and a couple of pints. This is an excellent hostelry and well known to some of the members of the group who had stayed there on the Coast To Coast walk previously. Having refreshed ourselves, we left in good time to get some sleep ready for the proposed breakfast of instant porridge at 2:30am the following morning.
Having tossed and turned for most of this precious time, we met in the kitchen, reluctantly downed the glutinous horrid excuse for porridge and girded our loins for the challenge ahead. We drove up to Cod Beck Reservoir and parked the car, fully expecting to never see it again as we were leaving it there over the whole of the day and the next night in this exposed and lonely spot.
Torches on, we left the reservoir at 03:20 to begin our journey into pain and misery. The walk across Coalmire Plantation and Live Moor went smoothly, conditions were good but it was very misty. The week before had been quite wet and there were still deep puddles and muddy sections which did not bode well for the bogs yet to be traversed. Lord Stones Café was reached without incident and we enjoyed the ups and downs of the Cleveland Hills and the scramble through the Wain Stones until we reached the Clay Bank Road and our first rendezvous with our support crew who luckily is a qualified psychiatric nurse. Suitably counselled and fortified with bacon butties and lashings of hot tea, we continued across Urra Moor, making good time on the old railway section after Bloworth Crossing and reached our second checkpoint, the Lion Inn at Blakey Ridge in good spirits.
Here, we stopped rather longer than we first anticipated as I believed we were early (in fact we were around half an hour late) and thus were tempted to drink coffee and relax by the fire. When the support crew (my wife) announced we were significantly off-schedule, thoughts of missing the kitchen at the pub we were going to be staying in that night spurred us on to leave the sanctuary of the Lion and strike out eastwards again into the thickening fog. A visit to Fat Betty ensued after negotiating a small boggy section of path, we left various offerings of food and a tasty Army ration pack for good luck and pressed on.
At the peat bog turn-off, we discovered that all that we had read was in fact true. Boots became wet and muddy, and the effort of hopping from one (possibly) dry hummock to another caused the first injury of the day when one of our group sprained his knee, having thence to adopt a new style of walking which involved putting the good leg forward, then swinging the bad leg around in an arc to make forward progress. This was in fact the way he proceeded for the next twenty miles, top fellow that he is.
After slogging across Rosedale Moor, we reached our next checkpoint at Hamer Bank hoping that Wheeldale Moor would be slightly drier, alas this was not the case and the second injury occurred when the only Witch amongst us found that a significant portion of the skin on her heel had become detached. Fearing the worst should she take her boot off to examine said injury i.e. not being able to put it back on again, she elected to ignore it and soldier on. Top effort.
Fortunately it was not long after this that we discovered the lyke of a weasel, artistically propped up on a small cairn, looking wistfully to the west out of it’s pecked-out eyes. The bedraggled state of this poor animal struck a chord with how we were all beginning to feel, but at the same time reminded us that we still had life left in us….
Our next checkpoint at the Wheeldale Road was reached and refreshments consumed, we headed off once more into the next bog, otherwise known as Goathland Moor. Splashing and grunting our way through this we had to divert around several fires that had seemingly been set specially to fill our lungs with acrid smoke. We ascended Simon Howe and eventually reached Eller Beck Bridge and our next checkpoint in fairly poor condition, with injuries and fatigue beginning to take their toll on most of the group.
By the time we reached Lilla Cross it was becoming dark again, and by the beginning of the MOD land section it was time to get our torches out. Off across Fylingdales Moor, the going did not get any easier and one member of our group christened the walk with a new name that I, for the purposes of decency cannot repeat in writing. We lost the path despite having an accurate GPS and were saved from splashing around in ever decreasing circles by one of our group who is a serving senior NCO serviceman spotting a path marker which was less than ten metres away from said ever decreasing circles. Actually, two out of five of our members are serving servicemen, but one is an officer and apparently you should never give a map to an officer.
Reaching the ravine at Jugger Howe, we discovered the true meaning of torture as we descended on aching legs, injured knees and detached heels. Much mumbling and cursing ensued, and I observed members of the group beginning to counsel themselves with useful advice such as “Never again” and “Go on, you can do it, yes, you CAN do it”. The main road was our final checkpoint and our ever faithful and by this time utterly revered and saint-like support crew gave us some final and much-appreciated encouragement (we were too tired to partake of refreshments) and we started on the final push for the end stone.
Some difficulty was encountered once more, as the ground was still very boggy in places and I found that if I stopped for more than ten seconds that my left leg turned to rubber and refused to support me. This was probably caused by me having to give the officer my walking poles some fifteen miles earlier to support his injured knee but in the spirit of reaching the end as a team it was a gift gladly given. However, at this stage I began to regret my generosity and found myself starting to think that I should have left him with the weasel on Wheeldale Moor.
So, limping and cursing onwards for the last few hundred yards, at last, we came upon the final stone and huddled around it for the customary photographs. It was, the end. And now we are a Witch and four Dirgers (and an honorary Witch for the saintly support crew!). We thank Mr. Cowley for his devilish creativity in dreaming up this instrument of torture, I am sure I heard a ghostly cackle of laughter in the ravine at Jugger Howe, or was it a grouse? It matters not. We did it, and now we are proud!
There were two key aspects to this crossing – a dawn start, and the reverse route!
The plan was simple, and indeed cunning. We would arrive at the ‘end’, Ravenscar, late evening on the 18th, get some sleep, and then set off around midnight, complete the easy section from Ravenscar to the A177 in time for dawn to break and light the way through the awkward section past Fylingdales. A brief SOTA activation of each of the two summits as we passed and then a steady drop down into Osmotherley in time for tea and medals.
It never ‘quite’ goes that way when me and Bob go walking!
The day started well, we got into Osmotherley and parked Bobs motor up. I was driving the first run since Bob doesn’t like the way my bad leg has a tendency to go hard on the gas. From there we made our way to Whitby, and raided the Co-op for food, managing to cram sandwiches and whole quiche down (each!), plus staggeringly big bars of chocolate. To avoid the temptation to visit a pub, and to also avoid having to pay for parking, we carried on to Ravenscar, and got parked close to the normal finish line.
As we arrived, we noticed a minibus parked up. Thinking this might be for one of the known regular supported walks, we wandered over for a chat. It turned out it was for a crossing by one of the schools in Scarborough. As we chatted, their first finishers came in, a teenage girl and boy, hand in hand! We congratulated them on a fine effort.
As we checked kit and got ready to rest up, more support teams began to arrive, plus more early finishers. And that’s when we made our first, and (quite nearly) fatal mistake!
… we decided to crack on!
The temptation to A) congratulate and B) encourage / wind up, the incoming walkers as we passed them, was too much! We treated our feet, although with our nice new boots which now fit properly, little was needed in this, had a pee, and hauled our, predictably, shockingly heavy Bergens on.
So, in daylight, we set off to walk the reverse route. Encouraging the tired and worn walkers coming the other way as we went with calls of ‘not far now’, ‘nearly done, keep going’, and telling them that we’d just finished and were going back for the next group we were guiding across!
It was remarkable how some of the walkers really did look about to die! But we did also notice, just how muddy they were! It turned out that the recent rain had not yet drained. Many parts of the walk, even at this early stage, were muddy and slippy.
Bob was asking every group we passed if they were someone (I forget who). I think we did eventually meet that person. We also met one of the club officials!
Boyed by this, we very quickly reached the A177. We failed to become squeshed walkers as we crossed, and so did our usual feet check and carried on. But it was now becoming much slippier, and we were rather surprised at just how muddy it was, considering the day itself was lovely.
As dusk fell and the light started to fade, we could see RAF Fylingdales in the distance. Around about this time we decided, it was time for some music!
One of our handheld transceivers happened to have an FM broadcast receiver built in, so we found a station playing decent music and carried on, although in true fashion there was a short interlude whilst Bob evacuated himself.
The radio would become our companion on this walk. It was actually really nice to have some music, as we walked through the night. Indeed, the morale boost it provided helped offset the fact that, although the weather was perfect, the ground conditions meant that it was particularly tough going.
Somewhere short of Flylingdales, the paths became indistinct, and very muddy. We began to slide and stumble. Despite head torches, we found finding the correct path became tricky. Bob took a bad slip and went both legs into a bog, unfortunately, the bit between his legs was solid ground! Quite a painful experience that would later prove to have been damaging.
We began to have to make quite embarrassing course corrections as the path became invisible, and finding ourselves on the wrong side of a nasty section of bog each time!
At some point around here, I managed to put my entire left leg up to the knee, into a post hole, and then fall forward onto my right knee. This simple incident would prove disasterous to our efforts and ultimately to our crossing times.
An yet, we were so far going well. We had plenty of energy, and were in great spirits. We’d conquered the first of the nasty ravines with little more discomfort than the damn midges. Eller beck was behind us, and we were safely over the A169 road and heading through the nature reserve to cross the North Yorks Moors Railway.
By now it was pitch black, and we were guided only by our GPS and torchlight. As we began the approach and descend to the 2nd ravine of Wheeldale beck, and the site of the roman road, things took a sinister and un-nerving turn! We began to hear dogs barking. Then vehicle movement up ahead. Now, such things occurring in the middle of the night, on the moors, in the presence of a pair of ex-infantrymen, instantly put us on guard. As Cat on Red Dwarf would say ‘It doesn’t smell right!’
And it wasn’t. The vehicles, and their occupants, were out for one reason – they were hunting us! As we came to the beck and the stepping stones, we saw another lamp approaching. We were confronted by an irate owner of one of the houses beside the beck. Intent on intimidation, and voicing his annoyance that people might dare to walk a public path on a national park during the night, our fear was that he would set his dogs on us. I have absolutely no qualms of pointing out the exact location, and hence the house in question, for future walkers to be wary. I had intended on reporting his actions to the police. I can understand a landowner in such a remote location being wary, but it was quite clear that we were walkers.
We got clear of the roman road as fast as was possible, and away from this idiot. But we now had the worst of the boggy sections to cross, and boy was it wet! However, it was beginning to become light, we were now able to dispense with the head torches. We stumbled and slipped, cursed, jumped and sank our way through, until eventually coming out onto the metalled road. We were now close to Fat Betty, our breakfast and selfie stop!
At Fat Betty we stopped to eat, and cold Chou Mein is a fantastic taste! (im not being sarcastic there, it really was nice!). Changing socks and checking feet was done in relay, fighting the onset of cramp. A few piccies were taken, and we enjoyed a rest sat in the glow of the rising sun.
From here we made our way down (or up?) the road to the Lion Inn, luckily quite firmly closed at that time in the morning, and passed over the back to join the Rosedale railway path. Now, on our first crossing, this winding track seemed to go on forever. This time was no exception. We began now to tire a little. Soon, the long drawn out slog of it began to rival the climb up Whernside! By the time we turned off to join the Cleveland way towards Urra Moor, it was becoming seriously tedious and boring! My gawd its a long, long way when its all uphill!
Our spirits were still good though at this point. Bob had been texting the radio stations overnight, and shortly after we crossed Urra Moor, totally forgetting to carry out the SOTA activation as we crossed the summit before we realised, we found the bench at the start of the decent down to the B1257. Another sock change and a bit of scran here. But by this time, things were just starting to go awry! As a result of our falls earlier, we were both beginning to hurt, and lots of painkillers were not helping enough. My left knee was becoming serously painfull. But, one fantastic moment did occur whilst stopped here – we got a mention on Radio Cleveland!
We were still in good enough morale at this point to be annoyed by the idiots who let their dogs run off lead on the moor, despite the presence of the sheep. But as we descended, and more so as we began the climb up the steps towards Cringle Moor, our injuries began to take their toll. For Bob, painkillers were effective, and he was able to maintain his pace. For me, although the painkillers did their job, and my knee didn’t hurt too much, it was rapidly stiffening. Each step became an effort.
Once up on the moor, walking wasn’t too bad, but I could no longer maintain my usual pace. By the time we were negotiating our weary way through the rocks of , we were both slow, but I was now finding it increasingly difficult to bend my knee. We were becoming very slow. Now, Cringle Moor and Drake Howe effectively form three ridges, and the cols between are deceptively steep. As we looked up to the summit, we realised that there was no way I would be able to ascend, without causing myself serious damage. We opted to take the lower level path slightly to the north, even though this meant the ups and downs of various ancient waste tips. Progress was laboriously slow.
We rejoined the Cleveland way path near Mouries pond, and limped into the Lord Stones cafe. Every movement for me now was a challenge, including sitting down on a bench, and then getting up again to go and buy something to eat. As we moved off, I had been reduced to the pace of an asthmatic tortoise. I told Bob to just crack on, that way at least one of us could maintain a good time, but Bob insisted on remaining together. This we did until the summit of the next hill. Here we stopped, took a look around, took a look at ourselves, and realised that somewhere in the last ten miles, we’d left our morale and enthusiasm behind! We looked pretty much how we felt, and we felt terrible. I finally convinced Bob to forge ahead, with the argument that I only had to follow the path from now on and that I might be slow but I wasn’t actually dying, and he slowly started to pull away as we went down the hill. I crept my way painfully down, and soon was tackling the horrendous set of slippery steps in the woods. I stopped upon a mound just before the farm, as my GPS batteries had given up. I changed them, and finished off the last of the Jerky and the coke id got at the cafe.
On the drive back to Ravenscar, Bob told me of his adventures –
After leaving me, he started heading down the hill at a bit quicker pace. Finding he could actually move better at a jog than walking, he started to run! This he managed to maintain, after a fashion, until he hit the banking up to the woods after the river crossing, which sapped some of the energy reserved he still had. He’d also had to stop and check with a local which way to go, after his GPS decided to have a wobble.
Having made it up the slope and into the woods, he was once again able to make time. On arriving at the car park, hot, sweaty, stinking, he found he was in the midst of masses of families, all smiling and laughing kids. And one now very knackered and rapidly stiffening Bob! He then opened the car, removed his boots, and hobbled barefoot to the ice cream van. The happy families had to then endure the sight of a steaming, crumpled hobo ramming a ’99’ down his neck!
After a brief rest I carried on, soon I was over the road and the stream, the bridge of which was rather awkward to cross! But now, I just had to get into the woods, and a couple of miles later would be on the road down to the car park and the end! Once in the woods, I again began to enjoy the scenery, and even managed to increase my pace a little. I’d sent Bob a few updates by text (our radio batteries being long since dead!) with a rough ETA. At one point, I took a slight detour instead of following the expected path, and was worried that Bob might have retraced his steps to meet me. But, I had told him to get to the car and have a kip.
As I came to the end of the woods, with the last length of Coalmire Lane ahead of me, I noticed a car parked by the gate. The Pen-Y-Ghent cafe sticker in the rear window indicated it was Bob (im hopeless at recognising cars). I fell against the wing, knocked on the window, and asked a half awake Bob “When’s the next bus due?”
We had made it.
After a brief rest, we headed back to Ravenscar to collect my car, only going the wrong way and into Middlesborough the once. We were shattered. And we stank. But we had completed the Lyke Wake Walk for the second time, and by the reverse route.
Our crossing times were appalling! Although Bob managed a bit better than me, but even so, we made it within the available 24h. Recovery seemed to be much faster than the first time – I could actually walk the next day! But both of us, even as I write this report in early October, nearly four months later, retain the remnants of the injuries we picked up on that day!
Dirgers: David Allen, Claire Chapman, Tom Chapman
Unsupported West to East Crossing.
We set off at 10pm on Friday 14th October. All three of us had done a full day’s work beforehand so it would be interesting to see how tiredness would affect matters later on. The forecast was reasonably promising, although there was a longer patch of rain scheduled to give us a soaking in the early hours.
It was pitch black when we set off, a thick cloud cover obscured the moon for the first couple of hours, but with headtorches on we made steady progress. Having had weeks of dry weather previously, it was typical that the whole week leading up to our jaunt across the moors had seen a lot of rain, and the boggy fields were a sign of things to come. It was unusually warm for the time of year and as we headed up towards the trig point on Carlton Bank I had taken off my jacket and fleece – not bad for midnight in October!
Our usual route is to go up and over Cringle Moor and then around the muddy plantation path and today was no exception. Last year’s storms have left their mark on this path and now almost a year on, conditions are still quite bad with a lot of mud and trees blocking the way. Fatigue was kicking in but we made only the briefest of stops at Chop Gate before the long climb up Urra Moor onto Round Hill. By now the jackets had come back on as we were walking through a wet mist and light drizzle.
Onto the railway path and this is normally a chance to pick up the pace a little, but by now we were seriously tired and had a couple of rests wherever there was a welcoming patch of heather, despite the rain that was now falling although not quite as heavily as forecast.
Rather than heading on to the Lion, we took the moorland path across to Flat Howe. Although straightforward walking in daylight, this takes some navigation under dark and wet conditions. We made slow progress but eventually hit the Blakey Ridge road just as dawn was breaking.
The weather and cloud cover denied us glorious sunrise, but daylight was more than welcome. Fortunately the rain started to recede, as the boggy section across Rosedale moor is challenging enough. As soon as we stepped off the road we knew it would be a muddy crossing, I got water in my boots which meant wet feet for the next 20 miles. They were so saturated that there was no point in changing into my dry spare socks as they would have been sodden within minutes, so squelch squelch squelch on we went.
Shunner Howe is our traditional breakfast stop. Poor visibility meant that we couldn’t see much beyond Hamer moor in fact we could barely see the Wheeldale Plantation. Perhaps not being able to see RAF Fylingdales so soon is a blessing in disguise? The path across to Blue Man was again very boggy, but onto Wheeldale Moor it got somewhat better and before we knew it we weren’t far off crossing the Roman Road.
After a wet spell it’s always worth approaching Wheeldale Beck with trepidation but this time we were lucky – the stepping stones were passable, if only just. Although there are still many mile and hours of walking ahead, at this point I’m well aware that we are into the latter half of the walk and that helps put a spring in my step all the way to the North York Railway crossing, where we were lucky enough to be greeted by a passing steam train.
Normally the section up to Lilla Cross involves a lot of dodging soggy ground, but seeing as my feet were soaked through this made no difference so we were able to make relatively light of this. The weather had really improved so we had glorious views over to the coast from here. Although we were quite exhausted by now from lack of sleep, the next few miles passed without incident and we were soon at the top of Jugger Howe. This ravine isn’t a favourite at this late stage of the walk, but decked out in its Autumn colours it is a spectacular sight.
Clambering out of Jugger Howe and heading steadily onwards, before we knew it we had reached the LWW stone at Ravenscar, some seventeen and a half hours after heading off from Osmotherly the evening before. Always a pleasure, we’re hoping to be back on the moors for one more crossing this year.
Start 23/10/16 9.40pm Sheepwash
Finish 24/10/16 8.30pm Ravenscar Mast
Started in the dark from Osmotherley, weather was mild, slight cloud. Once
on top of the moors above Scugdale you could see the lights of Teesside and
beyond. The weather got worse with wind and light rain by the time I reached
the trig point above Carlton in Cleveland. At this point I met a fellow
walker who had walked from the Lion, the weather ahead didn’t look good.
I carried on, negotiating the Wainstones was interesting at 1am, in fact
this stretch wasn’t easy in the dark or underfoot.
The rain stopped by Urra and the moon was out followed by the long trek
along the old railway. I took shelter behind the wall on the Blakey Road,
had breakfast and watched the sun rise.
I approached the bog with intrepidation, was it going to be all as bad as
they say? I’d say it wasnt easy be I was let off lightly. The rain was back
At Hamer there was a combination of reading the map wrong, the ambiguity of
instruction and a sign pointing in the wrong direction. This mistake added a
lot of extra time, extra miles and yet did I know I would have wet feet all
the way back to Ravenscar.
I made it back to the Blue Man and was back on track, the stepping stones
were just about passible, I stopped on Simon Howe for food and pressed on
through the wet conditions, every path was still full of water.
I’d just missed a train before Ellerbeck and reached Lilla Cross before the
sun set. Back in the darkness, this path was the worst on route, nearly lost
my boots twice, the surface had turned to quicksand. I finally reached
Jugger Howes and was desperate to get back to Ravenscar. Reached the final
stone at 8.30.
Being wise and having had the Golden Lion recommended (something we would heartily endorse) we set out on a West to East crossing at a rather tardy 3:40am from Osmotherley. Ste had caught a couple of hours sleep in the car after driving up from Birmingham – possibly not the best preparation but some people just won’t be told. Taking on calories in the form of real ale was clearly the better option.
It was with great vigour and not little speed that we flew across the first 10 or so miles, and it was only at Bloworth Crossing that the curves of the old railway started to feel a little endless and the promise of a break – and breakfast – at the Lion Inn because more and more important. A brief but heavy shower did little to cheer us on, not least because there were no actual clouds for the rain to be coming from. Combined with the considerable mocking for my poor memory of exactly which corner you’d see the pub from, it was all a bit grim for a while. As a consequence it was with great joy that we arrived just before 10am and undertook a brief conversation with a wonderful member of staff who wrangled the somewhat unwilling chefs into making us some bacon and sausage butties despite the pub actually being shut. We were eternally grateful and the disgustingly decadent but suitable tip was well deserved.
The main concern for us all had been the bog. We tried our best by repeatedly tempting fate, saying to each other how it wasn’t that bad – but it wasn’t ever that bad! We probably added a mile or two on avoiding some of the more lake like areas but emerged with mostly dry feet. I was actually cheered by the sight of Fylingdales at first but hours later it seemed no closer and we decided it must actually be moving itself away from us. Oddly enough, the radio mast at Ravenscar appears to be able to do the same thing. Ignoring blister based pain, we skipped up to the mast at 18:30 giving us a crossing time of 14 hours 50 minutes. I still can’t quite understand how we managed that! Top tips: The Viewranger app is great and means the maps can stay in your bag. Eat more than you think you need to or you’ll end up with low blood sugar, a dizzy spell, and testing the temperature of a radiator with your head (it was very hot).
Foolishly completed by Rob Parker, Ste Weatherhead, and Mike Baines