The Astill Family v. The Lyke Wake Walk – Crossing Report from May 14th 2017

Happy to report the successful and pleasurable crossing on May 14th 2017 of myself (Rachel, 24) and my dad Neil (54), well supported by our mum/wife Suzanne, who bravely faced the notorious Yorkshire roads alone. Based on the excellent advice of a past report from this page, we had downloaded the route on the ViewRanger app (thanks so much to publisher Gary Fox!), which played a brilliant role in reassuring us that we hadn’t gone astray. Highly recommended to anyone about to undertake the challenge.

We also made good use of Dad’s Garmin watch which we programmed to bleep each mile, helping to steady our pace both mentally and physically.

Setting off at 4:15am, our head torches didn’t shine for long as within half an hour we had left the darkness behind. Despite the steady rain and grim conditions on the moor, we were able to get a good pace going and met the support car at Hasty Bank just after 7:30am.

After a half hour’s rest and a hearty breakfast of flapjacks and Jammie Dodgers, we were back on the track. This leg of the journey passed quickly too – we hit a marching pace along the old railway tracks, distracted by games including A-Z of cars (W was a struggle) and the first line of hymns (very difficult – not recommended (and apologies for the singing)). The sight of the Lion Inn set our stomachs grumbling prematurely… little did we know what a long slog down the main road loomed between us and our lunches. Thankfully we were met with inviting deck chairs and a hearty feast prepared by Suzanne (accompanied by flapjacks and Jammie Dodgers).

40 minutes later we were sufficiently fuelled up and heading off apprehensively towards the dreaded bog territory. Unbelievably we escaped unbogged! Only a slight diversion was needed, but the path was otherwise terra firma. This boosted our spirits and kept us going strong till our 25 mile checkpoint at Hamer. It was 2.15pm now, 10 hrs into the walk and energy levels were going the same way as the depleting supplies of flapjacks and Jammie Dodgers.

Once niggling twinges were fast becoming significant sufferings; we began using our walking poles at this stage and certainly felt the benefit. The miles began to feel twice as long as before, not least because the battery in Dad’s watch gave in at 29 miles, and the thought of the finish point seemed dispiritingly out-of-reach. The hymn-singing was turning to prayers and the promise of a pasta dish and a hot drink at Eller Beck was all we had to spur us on. Indeed, our spirits were elated as we mounted the climb up from the steam railway to the inviting sight of the support car awaiting us – imagine then our horror as our much-anticipated refuge reversed and drove away before our helpless eyes and flailing arms. Unfortunately, we’d underestimated our ETA and, deciding she must be waiting in the wrong place, Suzanne departed to try and track us down. To make matters worse, there is no phone signal in the 7 mile vicinity of the army base and we had left our carrier pigeon at home. We were forced to consume our emergency supplies (a jam-free Jammie Dodger) in desperate hunger as we waited in hope of her return. Thankfully – just as we’d given up hope and were strapping on our rucksacks to depart with sullen spirits – over the brow of the hill to the right, our golden chariot reappeared, brimming with sustenance and Suzanne. However, the difficult Yorkshire roads had taken their toll by this stage and, somewhat harshly, we received a much frostier reception than previously. Having taking a considerably longer stop than scheduled, we got back on our way as quickly as possible.

This leg again felt much longer than anticipated, and a real hard drag over unchanging scenery. Even a few rounds of the Name That Tune Humming game only marginally lifted our spirits. The steep descent then ascent up the ravine was an unwelcome strain on our fatigued muscles. It seemed like the final checkpoint would never appear, but once it did – only 2 or 3 miles from the finish – we caught our second wind. We sped off on the final stretch to the telegraph pole, where we happily finished at 9:45; 17.5 hours after our departure and just before darkness fell. We were very pleased with the time as we’d expected to finish nearer to twenty hours. A good nap on the journey back to the caravan in Osmotherley preceded one of the best night’s sleeps of my life!

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