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 April, 2017
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