Lyke Wake Walk crossing, West to East, 16/17 May 2015

My daughter Jo, bless her, asked me if I’d do a Lyke Wake with her since I’d regaled
her, and others, most tiresomely over the years about my (younger) exploits. It
eventually dawned on me that if I didn’t do one soon, I probably never would, so the
fateful day was set.
Recognising the chasm in age and fitness between my younger self and my more
mature present status, I devised a relaxed schedule based on a conservative 20 hour
crossing. There would be no support party (none of my contemporaries seemed keen
to pull an overnighter for the purpose) but my brother Mike and his wife Cath
volunteered to drop us at the start and to pick up the pieces at the end, so we found
ourselves, fully fed and provisioned, making our way up to the starting stone in the
evening sunlight.

All ready for the off

Setting off at 5.30pm, we settled our packs on our backs and headed off to the woods.
The packs were heavy with water but manageable and we were optimistic and cheerful,
glad to be on our way…
In the olden days for some reason we used to set off around 10pm after a pint, so to
arrive at the telephone box near Huthwaite Green in gorgeous evening sunlight was
delightful, as was the climb onto Live Moor and the pacy walk along the ridge to Carlton
Moor although the sun was setting behind us as we passed the gliding club.

  

  

  

  

Somewhere along here I began to take notice of what Jo had been saying for a while –
she wasn’t feeling too good and before long she demonstrated her feelings with an
impressive hurl. Onwards and upwards onto Cringle Moor we hoped Jo would feel
better having lightened her load somewhat, but it was not to be. Periodic halts ensued.
The last time I did this walk there was no cafe at Lord Stones and of course by now it
was closed anyway, but we did make use of the toilet facilities there – most welcome.
And despite all, we were still on schedule.
Dark coming on properly now past Hasty Bank, finding an eery scene of dozens of
sheep’s eyes reflecting back from our head torches. Now was a long, silent trudge,
picking our way along the paths in the dark, zoning out for long periods of
mindlessness. I’d sort of assumed there would be some moonlight to help us on our
way but tonight there was nothing. A big fat nothing. Oh well, even the best laid plans…
And perhaps this wasn’t one of those.
We passed the highest point of the moors at Round Hill, beginning to wonder about
meeting the disused railway track, not wanting to miss it! In the event the track was
pretty clear at Bloworth Crossing, a chance to validate my purchase of the Viewranger
app and it was comforting to know we were on track, literally. And forever, or so it
seemed. Not that we were ungrateful – it was a chance to up the pace a bit but it’s a
long, almost featureless stretch. It’s always been dark when I’ve been past the Lion Inn
at Blakey so I’ve never had to resist its temptations and it was the same this time,
though it was possible to see the stars were fading.
I ‘knew’ that from the Lion Inn it was a short step round the road to Ralph’s Cross so we
trekked on through increasing light, or more accurately, decreasing dark, and on, and
on, and on… We’d promised ourselves a proper break at the cross, a halfway stop and a
brew from my new stove, bought for the purpose, but oh did that road go on forever.
Almost.
So, a moment to celebrate, half way on this insane enterprise and the promise of a
cuppa as the sun edged nearer to dawn. That’s the trouble with promises. Can’t trust
’em. Effing stove simply would not light and yes, I had tested it before setting off. A
disappointing sandwich with cold water and we were up and off again, cold and slightly
behind schedule but not worryingly so.
Past Fat Betty, we were feeling the effects of a cold wind from behind us, rising with the
sun. Piling on all our clothing we headed off the road into what I’ve always known simply
as ‘the boggy bit’. To be fair, it could be (and has been) a lot worse so although slow,
progress was made. The path now seemed very indistinct and only a generic direction
could be followed until we made our way to Shunner Howe (was that Fylingdales in the
distance? That ‘sandcastle’ shape?) then still through the marshy ground to Blue
Man-i-th’-Moss where I took a selfie – being dressed in blue it seemed appropriate.


Wheeldale Moor, now, and there was no denying we were cold and tired. It’s such a
long, long moor, even in the context of a long, long walk. Whose idea was this? We
tried to be appropriately impressed by the Roman Road, and I was not impressed that
Wheeldale Lodge is no longer a youth hostel – I felt sure we could have cadged a
cuppa.
A bit of a sit down here before steeling ourselves for the climb up the other side of the
valley. A dog walker heading the other way implied he’d already crossed one way and
was on his way back…. …Nah. Onwards and upwards again to Simon Howe.
To be honest I don’t remember much of that section but I do remember coming down to
the North York Moors Railway and Ellerbeck. Debating waiting for a train to pass, it
seemed easier just to keep on keeping on through a boggy ascent to Ellerbeck Bridge.
By now we were an hour and a half behind schedule. At least now in my mind we were
nearing the end, though of course it’s never the end ’til it’s the end, is it. Zig zagging
around somewhat now, trying to find the best approach to Fylingdales and not get stuck
the wrong side of the stream…. Eventually making it up as close as we would get to the
golf balls replacement, an odd looking building. ‘Sandcastle’ is as good a description as
any. Everything was a slog now but Lilla Cross duly arrived and departed behind us.
Another hazy section in my mind, but not too difficult walking I think. Trying not to think
about the end, still stuff to do…
Then the gentle downslope took a plunge into Jugger Howe Beck and I really felt we
were getting to the endgame when poor old Jo suffered another hurl, not able to keep
anything down for long. Although significantly behind schedule I knew we should still
finish inside the 24 hour target provided we just kept going. The afternoon was fine, we
almost managed to appreciate it. The A171 came and went, we texted Mike and Cath
to estimate our arrival and now we truly were on the last stretch, but it still had to be
walked.

Almost there.

It wasn’t over ’til it was over…. But there it was, eventually, the well defined and
so welcome track in the early evening sunshine, heading up past the
telecommunications mast… to the road, and Mike and Cath… Mike? Cath?
Well, they were there soon enough, and photos taken by the LWW marker, we installed
ourselves into the car and adopted the shapes we wouldn’t easily amend for a good
while to come… But we’d done it!

The end of purgatory ……………….. for this time………………….

Ed Bywater

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