Double crossing 31st July – 2nd August

Apologies if I get place names wrong, as I am not too familiar with them all.


I completed a West to East crossing last September and was feeling reasonably good at the end. So when I received an email talking about a double, my mind went into overdrive. A couple of days later I had signed up. Covid meant that training was slow to start and living in the world’s flattest city of Kingston Upon Hull didn’t do me any favours when we could finally get out for a walk.


Fast forward to 31st July…… Planned on a lie in, as I had taken the day off but was awake with jangling nerves at 8am. This gave me the opportunity to convince myself throughout the day that I wasn’t capable of this challenge. Anyway at 7.30pm my walking buddy Julie (who I had cajoled into joining me) and I were driven up to Osmotherley.

After a short wait in the Queen Catherine pub we found ourselves at the start stone and at just before 10.30pm along with our 10 fellow walkers and 2 guides for the first couple of sections. The thunder storms had cleared and the weather was perfect, if not a little too warm for some. We set off a a steady pace conscious of the mileage ahead. Daylight broke just after 4am whilst we were on the railway section and head torches came off around half an hour later. Good progress was made and after a hearty breakfast we made our way onto the bog section.

Now it is this section in particular that I’m really value walking with guides. I know the bogs aren’t nearly as bad as they once were but these guys know the terrain like the back of their hands. I escaped with dry feet! During the next section Julie tripped on a rock but didn’t seem to be hurt….. at the time! Progress continued to be well made and before too long we were having our final pit stop at Eller Beck before pushing on for the last 8 miles to half way at Ravenscar. I had started with a couple of blisters which were tended to. We reached the mast at 2.45pm and the sun was fairly strong by then.

A bit over 16hrs for the first crossing was about right as we knew fatigue would hit and the second half would be slower. After another short stop which included a change of shirt and yet another sock change we set off feeling buoyant that we were always getting a step closer to the end. During a descent in the Wheeldale area something gave in Julie’s knee. We reallised that she had damaged it in her fall earlier in the day. She struggled with walking down hill, which isn’t great when you’re 30 plus miles from finishing over the North Yorkshire Moors. Anyway, we carried on at a reduced pace and made it to Eller Beck for the second time. Julie was really getting a lot of pain by now and I persuaded her to have some ibuprofen and painkillers. We bumped into some walkers we had met in Osmotherley the night before who were nearing the end of their crossing and we gave each other much needed encouragement.

Now the next section is my least favourite due to the rocky terrain and crossing it for the second time in the same day wasn’t the highlight of the trip. About half an hour before darkness fell I decided to take a couple of caffeine tablets as I knew that the lack of light would increase our tiredness. It paid off and we carried on into the night. As darkness fully descended we entered the bogs for the second time with much more trepidation than the first time. By now, we were right at back of group but yet again our guides did a sterling job and got us through unscathed. The railway was a welcome relief for Julie’s knee due to its fairly flat nature. However the steep climbs at the end down really took their toll on Julie. By this time I was carrying her pack and supporting her down hill. At the checkpoint big decisions needed to be made, to withdraw 10 miles from home would be devastating but could she carry on? Well, this lady is made stern stuff. So after ditching her rucksack, some very strong analgesia and a huge delve into her reserves we decided to see how the four miles went to the final checkpoint. It was slow going but slowly by surely we were getting closer.

We carried straight on at the last checkpoint as we were both starting to sieze up due to the slow pace and were joined by a fantastic guide who would stay with us to the end. Just before 10 am we made it onto the road up to Sheep wash and the finishing stone. At the time we didn’t tell each other we were both fighting back the tears as it started to dawn on us that we were going to finish and we had achieved something pretty special. After 76.25 miles, 9 pairs of socks each, lots of various tablets and many laughs along the way, we had done it. We were now Lyke Wake Walk Double crossers and that will never change. Special thanks need to be made to Brian, Mick, Ian, Chris and our cooks and drivers whose names regrettably escape me. We would have never made it without you. When I finally climbed into my bed on Sunday afternoon I had been awake for just over 54 hours but it had all been worth it.
Finally, would I do another Double? NEVER!

John Dixon & Julie Kaiser

Some three hours after completing their crossing………………… the skies opened providing a “wonderful” deluge………………………… good timing!

Gerry

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