40 years – 40 Miles – Crossing 29th June 2019

A younger version of me completed my first crossing on the 22 July 2000, my memories of the walk had faded into the mists of time; so when I received a call from an old mate of mine, who wanted to complete the walk to celebrate his 40th birthday; I jumped at the chance to complete another crossing. I had already secured a weekend pass out, as a group of my friends were planning to climb Scafell Pike that weekend, so I had a number of victims who were easily persuaded over a number of pints to join the challenge.

Anyway, me and my old mate Pete had completed long distance walks in our younger days, completed with no real planning at all. As we were older and more experienced, and perhaps wiser, we thought planning was essential for the Lyke Wake. A customary planning meeting was held in the Corn Dolly in Bradford over a few pints of Real Ale. The most important thing we sorted was the support. Doing a walk of this magnitude without support would have been difficult, if this could not be secured, it was a case of leaving a car at the end, and dumping stuff on the way. Everything seemed to fall into place. The camping was sorted, route planned, support secured and maps bought. We were ready.

Although we had support, the finalised plan was to drop a car at Ravenscar, and meet up in Osmotherley for a few pints and some tea. We were mindful of the past, when a few pints meant more than the 3 we actually had.

We got back to the campsite, and despite some kind of disco/karaoke going on, managed to get some sleep. As excited as I was to get going, I woke before the 2am alarm, and got up. I won the award of the loudest by our disgruntled support who didn’t need to get up as early.

We set off from the campsite at 2.30, squeezing all 6 of us into a 5 seat Honda Jazz, so we could drive to the starting post. Having synchronised watches and done a weird hands in together group hug thing, we were off. 2.45 on a Saturday morning!

                                                     

 

                   

 

                                                                                                                                                        

We covered the first part of the walk on the Cleveland hills in fairly quick time, walking through the mist, until the sun came up, revealing a spectacular inversion on the summit of Carlton Bank. We then moved onto the Wainstones, and after an unscheduled toilet stop; ended the Cleveland hills and the first stage at around 7.20ish where we saw our first people of the day. Then came the disused railway to Blakey Ridge. Not much can be said about it, a slog to the Lion Inn. Pete our leader and motivational officer, tried to get the group going by playing the Lyke Wake Dirge by Pentangle. We probably could have done with the dance version, if this actually exists! Now there’s a thought………When the pub was sighted, one of our group thought it would be good if there was a zip wire from the last corner to the pub itself. Wishful thinking I’m afraid.

 

 

Having had some breakfast, and topped up our water supplies, we were off again. Next checkpoint was to be the bridge at Eller Beck in around 6 hours time. The road was followed for a time, then came moorland paths. Lovely moorland paths springy underfoot, with a decent amount of mud to contend with. By now the sun was blazing, and was starting to take a toll on members of our group. It was not far from this point that our first demoralising moment of the day occurred. We had spotted a man approaching, and when he got to us, we joked that he looked like an older version of hulk hogan! We had a nice chat with him, and we were working out the mileage that we thought we had done which was around 26 miles, when he pipped up that we had only done 23, he was wrong of course, but it nearly destroyed our sanity!

Trudging on in the heat and the ever increasing mud, things seemed to drag. I must have started hallucinating, because at one point I saw a lovely bit of Battenburg on the track, that looked good enough to eat! Not sure if it was really there though! By now we could see the early warning station at Fylingdales in the distance, and our salvation. Our next pit stop. And some welcome shade, if this could be found. One of our group finding another funeral parties support vehicle for cover.

Another rest, and it was to the end. An initial navigational nightmare trying to find a path through the mud, then to the cross on Lilla Howe, and there in the distance, the mast signalling the end! For the last 8 miles this mast got no closer, we slowed down and we started to see the sun setting. A group passed us, saying we hope you would get back for last orders, which was nice and motivational. By now the blisters on my feet were giving me some jip, and to make matters worse, the paths of loose stones, made it feel like I was walking on broken glass. At this point I was thinking of writing a letter of complaint to North Yorkshire council, but pushed on.

The end was in sight, but tantalisingly far away, it got closer, then was lost in a dip. It was there again,on the near horizon, and then very close, at which point a member of our group had to have an emergency toilet stop. Just to finish off, a bit of rain and we were there. The end. Finally the end! What a day! We completed it in around 18.5 hours, on the hottest day of the year so far! Delighted to have competed the challenge! It was nice to receive a round of applause and a welcome bottle of water from one of the other groups who had completed the walk. A nice touch to end the day.

On my return to the site, I resisted the temptation to crawl straight into my sleeping bag and die, and i stayed up to enjoy a superb Curry, cooked by one of the group. Glad I didn’t miss it!

Well, that’s my second crossing. I am writing this as my blisters are finally healing. One last request to Pete our leader on this venture. Don’t contact me on your 50th for another challenge! Only joking mate!

Crossing report by Chris Wilkinson who walked with Pete Smith, Tom Rowlinson, Daniel Simpson, Adam Simpson, Matty Pickard. Excellent support was provided by Emma Day.

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