Last year in September, I made an unplanned return to dirging & did the Lyke Wake Walk for the first time since the 1970s/80s. In March this year my mobile rang, ‘Hello Ian. My name is Karen …’ said a voice, ‘….I’m a Producer from BBC Radio 4’s Ramblings programme.’ The call was a result of one of my children posting a copy of my Lyke Wake Walk Crossing report of September 2014 on the internet. The upshot was this query from the ‘Beeb’ who had put together my Crossing report with the information that 2015 is the 60th Anniversary of the Walk resulting in this request for help to organise the recording of an episode of the programme ‘Ramblings’. The voice explained the deal – a group walks & talks with presenter Clare Balding (OBE – no less!) and the conversations are recorded and edited to make a half hour Radio4 programme. To anyone listening carefully, Dirger Evans could be heard muttering something under his breath about rambling & dirging not really being the same thing. But the thought occurred, surely making one or more BBC personnel suffer the whole 40 miles has got to be worth a year’s licence fee, at least!!! So, for good measure & to convey the appropriate sense of solemnity & menace, I quoted the first two verses of the Dirge (the Beeb voice sounded impressed!, despite the Barnsley accent). I then agreed to help out.
So the deal was struck & a date confirmed (22nd May) – all I had to do now was get a suitably impressive assembly of the Lyke Wake community; a coterie of Past Masters (plus supporting members of the lower orders) was required to relate the relevant doom laden tales as suitable warnings to the foolhardy who might be seduced by notions of doing our Walk.
It soon became apparent that the BBC had no intention of doing a complete Crossing and diplomatic negotiations resulted in the Beeb’s final offer – they would walk, talk & record from Lords Stones Café to Clay Bank. In a sudden rush of enthusiasm (and in the absence of A.N.Other volunteer victim) I agreed with the Beeb that I would do a whole crossing – it didn’t seem to be much of an ask to plan to get from the Trig Point and start at a time so as to arrive at the Café to rendezvous with the BBC to continue to Clay Bank with the assembled throng. However, it did seems a bit more of an ‘ask’ to then continue alone for the final 30 miles to the sea.
The New Club graciously and generously offered to pay for refreshments at Lords Stones as an enticement. Invites were sent out for the proposed Mini wake and subsequent Mini Dirge:
NEW LYKE WAKE CLUB
Friday 22nd May 2015 – 2pm
TEA & CAKE WAKE
Lords’ Stones Café
Please come along and meet up with other Witches & Dirgers
Following refreshments, BBC presenter Clare Balding will walk to Clay Bank with those wishing to accompany her. A recording of conversations during the walk will be made for the Radio 4 programme ‘Ramblings’
as a celebration of the 60th Anniversary Year of the Lyke Wake Walk.
Dress Code: Come as you are or Lyke Wake dress (mourning, witches, ghouls, etc.) or Dirging/Walking gear.
For further details contact:
Gerald Orchard – email@example.com
Everything seemed to be organised and in order for both the Ramblings recording and my proposed complete Crossing. However, two weeks before the off I had to call the BBC and let them know that it looked like I wouldn’t be doing a complete Crossing and nor would anyone else – to say the Beeb sounded disappointed is an understatement. My son who was to be my driver & would pick me up at Ravenscar now had a hot date on Saturday so I’d have to leave Yorkshire after the Ramblings recording on the Friday. So to satisfy the Beeb’s desire to have at least one victim doing the entire 40 miles, the only solution seemed to be for me to do a significant part of the Crossing the day before the Ramblings event and then finish the Crossing on the Friday. And that’s what I did. Dirger Evans left Clay Bank at 17:30 on Thursday and proceeded eastwards in an uneventful manner except for getting buzzed by an Army Apache helicopter whilst on the railway (twice), waking up a dog in Wheeldale and then being carefully observed by the occupants of an Army Landrover that drove past me, very slowly, at 1am near the Early Warning Station. It was bitterly cold in the wind whilst I waited at Beacon Howes for my lift and I don’t really remember the transit back to Ossie except being woken from my slumber whilst the car negotiated the bends at Sutton Bank. Took my time to stroll from the Trig Point to Carlton Bank and arrived at Lords Stones to find a most anguished and miserable assemblage of Dirgers and Witches. The throng included one misguided Foundation Member (Bill Dell), one Dirger who had travelled across the Atlantic(!!) for the occasion, at least 5 Past Masters including 2 Senile Centenarians (Gerry Orchard & Louis Kulscar) and Arthur Puckrin (OBE – no less!) plus a motley collection of the Lyke Wake lower orders: Dirgers & Witches; Drs of Dolefulness; Masters & Mistresses of Misery; and the like. The level of mournful anguish in evidence at this Mini Wake could easily have been mistaken for the joyful celebration of friendships being renewed (some after 50 years) and new ones being made as several generations of the Lyke Wakers congregated. An Olympic Torch appeared to general interest & bemusement.
The BBC arrived and stood bemused as they were promptly ignored by everyone such was the inconsolable revelry in full sway at Lords Stones. However, the experience & seniority of the Past Masters showed through and a degree of funereal solemnity and pious dignity was restored as the cortege (now full of tea & cake) departed in funereal single file for our first objective, Cringle Moor. Reaching the summit the Witches & Dirgers assembled as a choir and a very windy rendition of the Dirge was delivered. Much blethering and associated discussions ensued and I’m sure the BBC tape recorded was in danger of over-heating as it recorded the delivered wisdom of our motley assembly. No one seemed interested in Cold Moor which was ignored in favour of the Miners track. However, Colin Walker (Past Master), noticing Clare Balding eyeing up the low level route around Hasty Bank, took the initiative and struck up hill for the Wainstones and the rest of the procession followed with varying degrees of enthusiasm. Nothing untoward occurred over the Summit and Dirger Evans & the rest of the party duly arrived at Hagg Gate/Clay Bank at 17:15 exactly. Thanks go to Clare Balding & Karen Gregor of the BBC, for the excuse to do another Crossing and, more importantly, for providing the occasion for us all to get together in the 60th Anniversary year.
So, 23 hours 45 minutes for a Crossing, including the indulgence of two kips in the middle, one behind a drystone wall at Beacon Howes, the other in the car, followed by a leisurely stroll from the trig point to Carlton Bank plus a very enjoyable Mini Wake at Lords Stones (I’ll probably receive a censure from the Club for that last adjective!!). Seemed quite a most miserably civilised way to do things, can’t wait to get to the relevant qualifying age when I will get the extra twelve hours to increase the length of time over which a LWW ordeal can be endured!!
The BIG QUESTION remains! Does this count as a legitimate Crossing? I started & finished at Clay Bank Top (aka Hagg Gate) not the LW Stones/Trig point/Raven Hall Hotel. A humble submission has been made to the Most Esteemed Council of Elders & the Inconsolable Conclave of Past Masters to determine if the described dirging activity constitutes a legitimate Crossing (see Appendix below). The fruits of their combined deliberations & wisdom is much anticipated.
The following is submitted in humble anticipation of the considered judgement of The Most Erudite & Esteemed Council of Elders and Inconsolable Conclave of Past Masters of the Lyke Wake Club.
In the case of:
Regina (aka Lady of the Manor of Goathland) (the ‘Respondent’)
Dirger Evans (the ‘Appellant’)
On the dates in question, being the 21st and 22nd May in the year of our Lord 2015, the said Dirger Evans did proceed and attempt to make a humble Crossing of the most infamous & distinguished Lyke Wake Walk within the North Riding of the County of York. The said putative Crossing commenced at half past five (BST) on the first date indicated and was completed at quarter past five on the second date, being in total duration twenty three hours and forty five minutes; these temporal facts are fully witnessed & attested in this case and are not in dispute. The described dirging activity took place proximal with & partially in conjunction with the now infamous gathering of Dirgers & Witches to celebrate a Tea & Cake Mini Wake at Lords Stone Café on the second of the two dates which was immediately followed by a Mini Dirge by several Past Masters plus assorted members of the lower orders of the Lyke Wake fraternity to Hagg Gate. The Mini Dirge was undertaken in the company of the most gracious Clare Balding OBE & her esteemed colleague Karen Gregor, both of the BBC. The issue for adjudication, as a matter of Lyke Wake law, is as to the legitimacy of the starting & completion point for the aforesaid putative Crossing being possibly the first ever, and so far only, Lyke Wake Walk Crossing to start & finish at the same point, in this instance, namely Hagg Gate (more commonly referred to as Clay Bank Top). For the avoidance of doubt, dirging commenced at Hagg Gate proceeded eastwards via the Classic Route to Ravenscar followed by vehicular transit to Osmotherley to gain access to the most famous Trig Point in England followed by perambulation to Lords’ Stone Café to join the Mini Dirge to Hagg Gate (all via the Classic Route with the exception of use of the Miners’ Track to avoid a traverse of the summit of Cold Moor).
A precedent for considering the legitimacy of a Crossing which does not start at one & finish at the other of the fully recognised, demarcated and solemnised departure/finishing locations of the Lyke Wake Walk, in the vicinity of Osmotherley & Ravenscar, is recorded in that revered tome, ‘Lyke Wake Walk: Forty Miles Across the North Yorkshire Moors’ by the Chief Dirger, Bill Cowley (3rd Edition, 1967, page 64). In the case in question the Chief Dirger admitted as acceptable a Double Crossing whereby the Dirger in question (H Webb in 1962) completed this Double Crossing by doing each section both ways in turn before moving his car to the next section.
The above submission is made for your careful and thorough evaluation & formal adjudication as to the appropriateness of the described dirging activity being considered and recorded as a legitimate bona fide & complete Crossing of the aforementioned Lyke Wake Walk within the rules first promulgated, instituted and codifed by the Chief Dirger.
Your considered decision is eagerly awaited.
Your humble servant