After much poring over of maps, multiple readings of the excellent guidebook, the seeking of tips from a previous crosser and downloading the route to my ‘Outdoors’ iPhone app, Friday 12th August 2016 saw a remarkably traffic free drive up from Lincolnshire followed by a sound night’s sleep at Cote Ghyll campsite.
We set off from the campsite at 06:00 on Saturday 13th August and elected to utilise a run/walk strategy, if it was flat or downhill we would run, and if it was uphill we would walk. This was to be an unsupported crossing so our kit consisted of each carrying a running rucksack holding supplies and extra clothing, along with OS maps & the guidebook.
Clothing consisted of Running top, shorts, compression socks and trail shoes with a change of top and socks for the halfway point.
We were greeted by a stunning sunrise as we made good progress along Scarth Wood Moor and then following the Cleveland Way which I (Matt) was familiar with having completed it in 2014.
The woods adjacent to the Wainstones provided the first real challenge as the trail proved to be very muddy in places necessitating some jumping and grasping of trees/bushes to gain passage. However this soon passed and after some strenuous climbing we were up onto Urra Moor and along to Bloworth Crossing, where we said goodbye to the Way and followed the disused railway track to the Lion Inn at Blakey. This section seemed to take forever but a look at the stats from my Garmin showed that this was the fastest section run wise.
We arrived at The Lion Inn shortly after 10:00 where water supplies were replenished and a ritual offering of cheese sandwiches were sacrificed in the hope of appeasing the Gods of the Bogs.
Suitably refreshed and a change of clothing later we set off on the second leg. A slightly hairy section of travelling along the road was quickly completed before a right turn toward Rosedale. We very nearly missed the turning to the left heading toward the bogs but a very handy ‘LWW’ and arrow painted on the road showed the way.
We’d heard so much about the bogs that we were both a little apprehensive, but the sacrificial cheese sandwiches seem to have done the trick as the going was largely springy but dry with only the odd wet patch to negotiate. The gods of the bogs still smiled at the occasional squelch and the resulting submerged foot, but we emerged largely unscathed. The trickiest part of the crossing was still to come for as we approached the Blue Man i th’ Moss standing stone the bogs gave way to a rock strewn path which resembled a lunar landscape. This section was mentally as well as physically challenging as we had to concentrate on where to place our feet whilst running.
Wheeldale Plantation came and went followed by the descent to Wheeldale Beck, fighting through a million flies and then the climb to Simon Howe. We managed to lose our way slightly down the descent to Eller Beck Bridge, but the puffs of steam from a locomotive on the North Yorkshire Moors railway pointed us back on course.
As we crossed the A169 there was the tantalising promise of an ice cream van a quarter of a mile up the road, but tired feet dictated that we had to push on. We passed through the boggy land adjacent to RAF Fylingdales and by the time we reached Lilla Cross tired feet had been joined by tired minds. We’d both tripped a number of times so elected to walk the remaining distance. The mast at Beacon Howes seemed to taunt us by never getting any closer, but eventually we reached it and shortly afterwards the Lyke Wake Walk finish stone.
We staggered another mile or so down to the Raven Hall Hotel where we stumbled into the bar and sank a well deserved pint. 10 hours after setting out (and according to my Garmin) 4676 calories later we’d done it. And apologies to the wedding party at the hotel whose noses collectively wrinkled as we passed them by on our way to the bar!