Archive for October, 2018

Crossing Report, Saturday 3rd June 2017

Tuesday, October 9th, 2018

Crossing Report

It’s 1.30am, Saturday 3rd June. A sleek black car wheels noiselessly into Sheepwash car park and out step four large men, all in the prime of life. A small, red empty car is the only other thing there. Chatting quietly, the men grab teas and coffees from flasks and sort their equipment for the day ahead. They seek out various locations in the car park to relieve themselves before setting off. Some stand quite close to the red car. Mysteriously, laughter is suddenly heard. Oh dear, it seems the car wasn’t empty after all; when we arrived the two occupants must have been in a prone position for some reason. What on earth had they been doing at that time of the night? And what were they laughing at now????

Anyway, leaving that aside, we set off on the journey. Three were returning for their 2nd crossing – Chris Wood (2013), John Bamford (80s sometime), and Nick Coombes (2013). Joining them for his first attempt was Derek Lunn, who’d come down from Hawick in Scotland, with a previous best ever effort of 20 miles, completed over his local Scottish hills, by way of preparation.

The walk through the woods by headtorch was atmospheric to say the least. Before long day broke cool and cloudy – ideal walking weather, in fact. The pace was steady, the rucksacks were full and, as we discovered afterwards, we were all thinking “Not gonna make this!” but no-one actually said so. By the time we hit Urra Moor and began the long plod towards Bloworth and on to the Lion at Blakey, the sun was well and truly in control, the clouds were receding and the suncream was going round like a pass-the-parcel present.

The moors were glorious; a riot of birdlife. Curlews, grouse, quail, lapwings, skylarks and many others beyond our capacity to identify, were in abundance. Truly delightful.

Checkpoint 3 to 4 passed without incident – everyone kept dry feet, thanks to the recent dry weather. The “Startled Me Clean Out Of Me Boots!” award went to Chris, who on several occasions found a grouse shooting out from almost under his feet, where they had hidden until the very last moment before fleeing with a loud squawk and a flurry of wings.

4 to 5 seemed to take forever, perhaps because it did. 5 to 6 was a killer too – it never seemed to end. By this time our pace had slackened somewhat and we had all turned a brighter shade of pink. Derek and John had for some hours been assisted in their progress by powerful painkilling remedies for painful hips and knees. The prescription medication had had a profoundly beneficial effect on John in particular, who floated effortlessly some 2 feet above the heather for the last 27 miles of the trip, singing songs by the Bee Gees, Status Quo, Level 42, Roy Wood and anyone else for that matter.

At long, long last, however, the beacon was reached, the stone was patted, photos were taken, and the Ravenscar hotel bar was treated to an olfactory assault to the dismay of the well-dressed diners, and we quaffed a few watching the sun bring down the curtain on a fabulous day. Skilful navigation from John and Chris had kept us on course throughout. Special thanks must go to Nicola Coombes in particular and to Julie Wood for tireless support at checkpoints 3 and 5, and for the lifts home at the end of an 18 hour epic. The last word, however, goes to Derek Lunn, who had attempted the walk knowing it was far beyond anything he had previously undertaken, and who refused to yield to the heat, the pain, the tired legs, the frankly ridiculous quantities of English flatulence, and the appalling jokes of the assembled company, and never once complained! What a great effort, and what a grand day.

Crossing, 1st October 2018

Tuesday, October 9th, 2018

Crossing Report No 3

Well, it had to happen, didn’t it? We’d done it twice before from Osmotherley, and the allure of the potential title “Master Of Misery” was impossible to resist. So we agreed to make an attempt on a third – and unsupported –  East to West crossing. Parking the car on a small spot of hard standing just a few yards from the Ravenscar beacon, we set out from the stone shortly after 7.00 a.m. on Monday 1st October – the 63rd anniversary of the very first crossing back in the mists of time….

Luckily for us the mists of time were nowhere to be seen as we began on a clear and cool morning with a slight headwind for company. Above us the clouds looked vaguely threatening but were sliding past, and gradually cleared towards the southeast without bothering us. We were travelling light, alternately jogging and walking, with our eyes on a 12 hour crossing.

It was strange crossing Jugger Howe Beck with fresh legs! Navigating was pretty straightforward as we made a beeline for Lilla Cross, then veered away from Fylingdales to drop down to Eller Beck Bridge. By this time the sun was out, the clouds were gone, visibility was extremely good and a freshening breeze from the northwest kept us cool. We followed our noses past that to arrive at Simon Howe and onward to the stepping stones at Wheeldale Beck, and on up to the road. We were beset by a tad of indecision as to the best line from here, resulting in a spot of heatherwork to find and join the best path we could alongside the Wheeldale Plantation. We arrived at the Blue Man-i-th-moss and pressed on, with thoughts of a lunch stop at the Lion already uppermost in our minds. The path across the peat proved pretty benign thanks to the baking summer, and we came through unscathed save for one or two brief muddy squelches – just enough to soak the trainers but no worse. On reaching the roads at Rosedale Head we jogged round to the pub where the nutritional repast of choice for elite athletes like ourselves – a huge plate of chips and a pint of coca-cola – went down a treat. Six hours gone and on schedule.

Leaving the comfort of the seats in the pub was psychologically damaging, and we emerged to join “the long and winding road,” as someone once said, that leads not to your door in this case, but to Bloworth Crossing. This proved to be extremely tedious and tiring in equal measure, in the face of a fresh headwind. Our efforts at running decreased and the time spent plodding went up accordingly. But all bad things come to an end, and the section across Urra Moor and down to the road crossing at the foot of Hasty Bank saw us making better progress. We manfully skirted round the Wainstones, choosing instead to trot through the woods of the Broughton Plantation, and continued on to pass the Lord Stones Café somewhere around 5pm. Fortified by ham and egg sandwiches that had earlier been acquired at the lunch stop, we felt that victory was within our grasp. By this time it had started to rain gently, so it was time to don the raincoats and raise the hoods. Up we gasped onto Carlton Bank, and then enjoyed the gentle descent across and down to Live Moor Plantation and Huthwaite green, to which we were briefly chased by an all too friendly large greyhound that seemed, perhaps understandably, to have mistaken our lower legs for a couple of pairs of  chicken bones.

Passing through Clain Wood our spirits were considerably lifted by glances at the watch, which revealed that our time was good. Emerging at the cattle grid, we made our way cheerfully to the finishing stone, even managing to take in the last few hundred metres at a shambling shuffle, if not a true run. Nevertheless we stopped the clock in 11 hrs 33 minutes. Job done! Time to go home and rejoice in the misery of it all….

 

Nick Coombes

John Bamford

Crossing date: 1st October 2018

Saturday 27th July 2013, Chris Wood and Nick Coombes

Tuesday, October 9th, 2018

What follows is the Lyke Wake Report of Chris Wood and Nick Coombes, of West Ayton and East Ayton respectively, following their maiden crossing of Saturday 27th July 2013…

Now here’s a tale I’d like to tell,
Like many heard before
It tells of how two youngsters
Set off to conquer the moor.

Two pals they were from Ayton village
One’s East, and one’s from West,
They came not to set records,
But to put themselves to the test.

Handsome and bold, fearless and brave
These young men were – ‘tis true,
And the years they held between ‘em
Only totalled a hundred and two.

They drove off from their village
In the middle of a moonlit night
The stars shone brightly to guide their way
It was a magnificent sight.

They parked by Cod Beck reservoir
And filled up on sarnies and tea
They planned to start at 4 o’clock sharp
But first they both needed a pee.

That done, they started up the slope,
as Brian’s book says you should.
The skies were clear and dawn was breaking
As they journeyed along Scarth Wood.

They passed on through and climbed the steps
With nary a thought of stopping
And as the sun rose on Drake Howe Hill
They spotted Roseberry Topping.

At checkpoint 2 they stopped to put on
Suncream and drink water.
Then undeterred and without a word
They went on like lambs to the slaughter.

They lengthened their stride cross Urra Moor
The pace got slightly faster.
Bloworth Crossing came and went,
Thoughts turned to beer and pasta.

At the Lion Inn they met their team
Just seven hours had passed.
The supporters gave out sandwiches
Which they gobbled down real fast.

Refreshed, they stood and thanked their team,
Clean socks on their smelly feet.
Then on they pressed to the old Ralph Cross –
Ahead lay the path of peat.

The summer heat had helped them;
T’was mostly dry and spongey.
But here and there still lurked some spots
Of bog, which were quite gungey.

And so of course it came to pass,
As the Gods of the moors may please,
That Chris fell into a deepish hole
And sank right up to his knees.

His partner Nick ran to lend a hand
But Chris climbed out unaided.
He seemed to have gained a pair of socks –
Dark brown and fairly jaded.

As they continued across the peat
They suffered the briefest of showers,
But little did they know what lay in store
In the following couple of hours.

Onward now the heroes pressed
Past checkpoint 4 they strode
Their target was now Eller Beck
But their pace had slightly slowed.

And as they passed the Man i’ th’ Moss
Their cheerfulness was banished
As, despite the line of dots on the map,
The path had completely vanished!

From north to south across the moor
By heather they were confronted
Some of it old, some of it tall,
And some of it quite stunted.

No trace of a passage could they espy –
The heather had covered it all.

No choice remained but to stagger on through
Trip, stumble, slip and fall.

They gained a lot of knowledge there
About Yorkshire’s moorland heather:
That it scratches your legs to hell and back
And seems to go on forever.

But with never-ending fortitude
They finally prevailed,
Their courage never faltered;
Their spirit never failed.

And as they neared checkpoint 5
Where more sustenance awaited,
A beautiful adder crossed their path
Which left them both elated.

Now at this point it’s fair to say,
The two were feeling shattered.
A cup of tea and a slice of cake
Were all that really mattered.

And there she was, the maiden fair,
Standing by the beck
Across the moor came Nick and Chris
And they were neck and neck.

Nick’s wife and son were there again
Five hours since the pub.
They fed the walkers and saw them off
Refreshed by tea and grub.

The day of toiling in the sun
Had left our heroes dirty,
The homeward push was on them now,
The clock stood at 5.30.

They trudged on up to Lilla Cross
In view of the “big cheese grater.”
They knew that they would finish now
The question was “sooner – or later?”

They wondered how other travellers
Could do it in rain or snow.
Because, despite the good weather,
The legs were beginning to go.

But finally, despite the pain
The Beacon hove into view,
They crawled along those final miles
And reached it at 8.32.

Still not content with the victory
They pressed on to the Raven Hall bar.
It took thirty minutes for that last mile –
The hardest one by far!

Exhausted, grimy, weary and worn,
They sat and supped their beer,
And said to each other, with a strange sort of grin
“Shall we do it again – next year?”