Lyke Wake Walk – Second Crossing Report 18-19th June 2016

February 13th, 2017

There were two key aspects to this crossing – a dawn start, and the reverse route!
The plan was simple, and indeed cunning. We would arrive at the ‘end’, Ravenscar, late evening on the 18th, get some sleep, and then set off around midnight, complete the easy section from Ravenscar to the A177 in time for dawn to break and light the way through the awkward section past Fylingdales. A brief SOTA activation of each of the two summits as we passed and then a steady drop down into Osmotherley in time for tea and medals.
It never ‘quite’ goes that way when me and Bob go walking!
The day started well, we got into Osmotherley and parked Bobs motor up. I was driving the first run since Bob doesn’t like the way my bad leg has a tendency to go hard on the gas. From there we made our way to Whitby, and raided the Co-op for food, managing to cram sandwiches and whole quiche down (each!), plus staggeringly big bars of chocolate. To avoid the temptation to visit a pub, and to also avoid having to pay for parking, we carried on to Ravenscar, and got parked close to the normal finish line.
As we arrived, we noticed a minibus parked up. Thinking this might be for one of the known regular supported walks, we wandered over for a chat. It turned out it was for a crossing by one of the schools in Scarborough. As we chatted, their first finishers came in, a teenage girl and boy, hand in hand! We congratulated them on a fine effort.
As we checked kit and got ready to rest up, more support teams began to arrive, plus more early finishers. And that’s when we made our first, and (quite nearly) fatal mistake!
… we decided to crack on!
The temptation to A) congratulate and B) encourage / wind up, the incoming walkers as we passed them, was too much! We treated our feet, although with our nice new boots which now fit properly, little was needed in this, had a pee, and hauled our, predictably, shockingly heavy Bergens on.
So, in daylight, we set off to walk the reverse route. Encouraging the tired and worn walkers coming the other way as we went with calls of ‘not far now’, ‘nearly done, keep going’, and telling them that we’d just finished and were going back for the next group we were guiding across!
It was remarkable how some of the walkers really did look about to die! But we did also notice, just how muddy they were! It turned out that the recent rain had not yet drained. Many parts of the walk, even at this early stage, were muddy and slippy.
Bob was asking every group we passed if they were someone (I forget who). I think we did eventually meet that person. We also met one of the club officials!
Boyed by this, we very quickly reached the A177. We failed to become squeshed walkers as we crossed, and so did our usual feet check and carried on. But it was now becoming much slippier, and we were rather surprised at just how muddy it was, considering the day itself was lovely.
As dusk fell and the light started to fade, we could see RAF Fylingdales in the distance. Around about this time we decided, it was time for some music!
One of our handheld transceivers happened to have an FM broadcast receiver built in, so we found a station playing decent music and carried on, although in true fashion there was a short interlude whilst Bob evacuated himself.
The radio would become our companion on this walk. It was actually really nice to have some music, as we walked through the night. Indeed, the morale boost it provided helped offset the fact that, although the weather was perfect, the ground conditions meant that it was particularly tough going.
Somewhere short of Flylingdales, the paths became indistinct, and very muddy. We began to slide and stumble. Despite head torches, we found finding the correct path became tricky. Bob took a bad slip and went both legs into a bog, unfortunately, the bit between his legs was solid ground! Quite a painful experience that would later prove to have been damaging.
We began to have to make quite embarrassing course corrections as the path became invisible, and finding ourselves on the wrong side of a nasty section of bog each time!
At some point around here, I managed to put my entire left leg up to the knee, into a post hole, and then fall forward onto my right knee. This simple incident would prove disasterous to our efforts and ultimately to our crossing times.
An yet, we were so far going well. We had plenty of energy, and were in great spirits. We’d conquered the first of the nasty ravines with little more discomfort than the damn midges. Eller beck was behind us, and we were safely over the A169 road and heading through the nature reserve to cross the North Yorks Moors Railway.
By now it was pitch black, and we were guided only by our GPS and torchlight. As we began the approach and descend to the 2nd ravine of Wheeldale beck, and the site of the roman road, things took a sinister and un-nerving turn! We began to hear dogs barking. Then vehicle movement up ahead. Now, such things occurring in the middle of the night, on the moors, in the presence of a pair of ex-infantrymen, instantly put us on guard. As Cat on Red Dwarf would say ‘It doesn’t smell right!’
And it wasn’t. The vehicles, and their occupants, were out for one reason – they were hunting us! As we came to the beck and the stepping stones, we saw another lamp approaching. We were confronted by an irate owner of one of the houses beside the beck. Intent on intimidation, and voicing his annoyance that people might dare to walk a public path on a national park during the night, our fear was that he would set his dogs on us. I have absolutely no qualms of pointing out the exact location, and hence the house in question, for future walkers to be wary. I had intended on reporting his actions to the police. I can understand a landowner in such a remote location being wary, but it was quite clear that we were walkers.
We got clear of the roman road as fast as was possible, and away from this idiot. But we now had the worst of the boggy sections to cross, and boy was it wet! However, it was beginning to become light, we were now able to dispense with the head torches. We stumbled and slipped, cursed, jumped and sank our way through, until eventually coming out onto the metalled road. We were now close to Fat Betty, our breakfast and selfie stop!

At Fat Betty we stopped to eat, and cold Chou Mein is a fantastic taste! (im not being sarcastic there, it really was nice!). Changing socks and checking feet was done in relay, fighting the onset of cramp. A few piccies were taken, and we enjoyed a rest sat in the glow of the rising sun.

From here we made our way down (or up?) the road to the Lion Inn, luckily quite firmly closed at that time in the morning, and passed over the back to join the Rosedale railway path. Now, on our first crossing, this winding track seemed to go on forever. This time was no exception. We began now to tire a little. Soon, the long drawn out slog of it began to rival the climb up Whernside! By the time we turned off to join the Cleveland way towards Urra Moor, it was becoming seriously tedious and boring! My gawd its a long, long way when its all uphill!
Our spirits were still good though at this point. Bob had been texting the radio stations overnight, and shortly after we crossed Urra Moor, totally forgetting to carry out the SOTA activation as we crossed the summit before we realised, we found the bench at the start of the decent down to the B1257. Another sock change and a bit of scran here. But by this time, things were just starting to go awry! As a result of our falls earlier, we were both beginning to hurt, and lots of painkillers were not helping enough. My left knee was becoming serously painfull. But, one fantastic moment did occur whilst stopped here – we got a mention on Radio Cleveland!
We were still in good enough morale at this point to be annoyed by the idiots who let their dogs run off lead on the moor, despite the presence of the sheep. But as we descended, and more so as we began the climb up the steps towards Cringle Moor, our injuries began to take their toll. For Bob, painkillers were effective, and he was able to maintain his pace. For me, although the painkillers did their job, and my knee didn’t hurt too much, it was rapidly stiffening. Each step became an effort.
Once up on the moor, walking wasn’t too bad, but I could no longer maintain my usual pace. By the time we were negotiating our weary way through the rocks of , we were both slow, but I was now finding it increasingly difficult to bend my knee. We were becoming very slow. Now, Cringle Moor and Drake Howe effectively form three ridges, and the cols between are deceptively steep. As we looked up to the summit, we realised that there was no way I would be able to ascend, without causing myself serious damage. We opted to take the lower level path slightly to the north, even though this meant the ups and downs of various ancient waste tips. Progress was laboriously slow.
We rejoined the Cleveland way path near Mouries pond, and limped into the Lord Stones cafe. Every movement for me now was a challenge, including sitting down on a bench, and then getting up again to go and buy something to eat. As we moved off, I had been reduced to the pace of an asthmatic tortoise. I told Bob to just crack on, that way at least one of us could maintain a good time, but Bob insisted on remaining together. This we did until the summit of the next hill. Here we stopped, took a look around, took a look at ourselves, and realised that somewhere in the last ten miles, we’d left our morale and enthusiasm behind! We looked pretty much how we felt, and we felt terrible. I finally convinced Bob to forge ahead, with the argument that I only had to follow the path from now on and that I might be slow but I wasn’t actually dying, and he slowly started to pull away as we went down the hill. I crept my way painfully down, and soon was tackling the horrendous set of slippery steps in the woods. I stopped upon a mound just before the farm, as my GPS batteries had given up. I changed them, and finished off the last of the Jerky and the coke id got at the cafe.

On the drive back to Ravenscar, Bob told me of his adventures –
After leaving me, he started heading down the hill at a bit quicker pace. Finding he could actually move better at a jog than walking, he started to run! This he managed to maintain, after a fashion, until he hit the banking up to the woods after the river crossing, which sapped some of the energy reserved he still had. He’d also had to stop and check with a local which way to go, after his GPS decided to have a wobble.
Having made it up the slope and into the woods, he was once again able to make time. On arriving at the car park, hot, sweaty, stinking, he found he was in the midst of masses of families, all smiling and laughing kids. And one now very knackered and rapidly stiffening Bob! He then opened the car, removed his boots, and hobbled barefoot to the ice cream van. The happy families had to then endure the sight of a steaming, crumpled hobo ramming a ’99’ down his neck!

After a brief rest I carried on, soon I was over the road and the stream, the bridge of which was rather awkward to cross! But now, I just had to get into the woods, and a couple of miles later would be on the road down to the car park and the end! Once in the woods, I again began to enjoy the scenery, and even managed to increase my pace a little. I’d sent Bob a few updates by text (our radio batteries being long since dead!) with a rough ETA. At one point, I took a slight detour instead of following the expected path, and was worried that Bob might have retraced his steps to meet me. But, I had told him to get to the car and have a kip.
As I came to the end of the woods, with the last length of Coalmire Lane ahead of me, I noticed a car parked by the gate. The Pen-Y-Ghent cafe sticker in the rear window indicated it was Bob (im hopeless at recognising cars). I fell against the wing, knocked on the window, and asked a half awake Bob “When’s the next bus due?”
We had made it.
After a brief rest, we headed back to Ravenscar to collect my car, only going the wrong way and into Middlesborough the once. We were shattered. And we stank. But we had completed the Lyke Wake Walk for the second time, and by the reverse route.

Our crossing times were appalling! Although Bob managed a bit better than me, but even so, we made it within the available 24h. Recovery seemed to be much faster than the first time – I could actually walk the next day! But both of us, even as I write this report in early October, nearly four months later, retain the remnants of the injuries we picked up on that day!

Crossing Report 14 / 15th October 2016

November 6th, 2016

Dirgers: David Allen, Claire Chapman, Tom Chapman

Unsupported West to East Crossing.

We set off at 10pm on Friday 14th October. All three of us had done a full day’s work beforehand so it would be interesting to see how tiredness would affect matters later on. The forecast was reasonably promising, although there was a longer patch of rain scheduled to give us a soaking in the early hours.

It was pitch black when we set off, a thick cloud cover obscured the moon for the first couple of hours, but with headtorches on we made steady progress. Having had weeks of dry weather previously, it was typical that the whole week leading up to our jaunt across the moors had seen a lot of rain, and the boggy fields were a sign of things to come. It was unusually warm for the time of year and as we headed up towards the trig point on Carlton Bank I had taken off my jacket and fleece – not bad for midnight in October!

Our usual route is to go up and over Cringle Moor and then around the muddy plantation path and today was no exception. Last year’s storms have left their mark on this path and now almost a year on, conditions are still quite bad with a lot of mud and trees blocking the way. Fatigue was kicking in but we made only the briefest of stops at Chop Gate before the long climb up Urra Moor onto Round Hill. By now the jackets had come back on as we were walking through a wet mist and light drizzle.

Onto the railway path and this is normally a chance to pick up the pace a little, but by now we were seriously tired and had a couple of rests wherever there was a welcoming patch of heather, despite the rain that was now falling although not quite as heavily as forecast.

Rather than heading on to the Lion, we took the moorland path across to Flat Howe. Although straightforward walking in daylight, this takes some navigation under dark and wet conditions. We made slow progress but eventually hit the Blakey Ridge road just as dawn was breaking.

The weather and cloud cover denied us glorious sunrise, but daylight was more than welcome. Fortunately the rain started to recede, as the boggy section across Rosedale moor is challenging enough. As soon as we stepped off the road we knew it would be a muddy crossing, I got water in my boots which meant wet feet for the next 20 miles. They were so saturated that there was no point in changing into my dry spare socks as they would have been sodden within minutes, so squelch squelch squelch on we went.

Shunner Howe is our traditional breakfast stop. Poor visibility meant that we couldn’t see much beyond Hamer moor in fact we could barely see the Wheeldale Plantation. Perhaps not being able to see RAF Fylingdales so soon is a blessing in disguise? The path across to Blue Man was again very boggy, but onto Wheeldale Moor it got somewhat better and before we knew it we weren’t far off crossing the Roman Road.

After a wet spell it’s always worth approaching Wheeldale Beck with trepidation but this time we were lucky – the stepping stones were passable, if only just. Although there are still many mile and hours of walking ahead, at this point I’m well aware that we are into the latter half of the walk and that helps put a spring in my step all the way to the North York Railway crossing, where we were lucky enough to be greeted by a passing steam train.

Normally the section up to Lilla Cross involves a lot of dodging soggy ground, but seeing as my feet were soaked through this made no difference so we were able to make relatively light of this. The weather had really improved so we had glorious views over to the coast from here. Although we were quite exhausted by now from lack of sleep, the next few miles passed without incident and we were soon at the top of Jugger Howe. This ravine isn’t a favourite at this late stage of the walk, but decked out in its Autumn colours it is a spectacular sight.

Clambering out of Jugger Howe and heading steadily onwards, before we knew it we had reached the LWW stone at Ravenscar, some seventeen and a half hours after heading off from Osmotherly the evening before. Always a pleasure, we’re hoping to be back on the moors for one more crossing this year.

Crossing W – E, 23-24/10/16

October 25th, 2016

Solo crossing

Start 23/10/16 9.40pm Sheepwash
Finish 24/10/16 8.30pm Ravenscar Mast

Started in the dark from Osmotherley, weather was mild, slight cloud. Once
on top of the moors above Scugdale you could see the lights of Teesside and
beyond. The weather got worse with wind and light rain by the time I reached
the trig point above Carlton in Cleveland. At this point I met a fellow
walker who had walked from the Lion, the weather ahead didn’t look good.

I carried on, negotiating the Wainstones was interesting at 1am, in fact
this stretch wasn’t easy in the dark or underfoot.

The rain stopped by Urra and the moon was out followed by the long trek
along the old railway. I took shelter behind the wall on the Blakey Road,
had breakfast and watched the sun rise.

I approached the bog with intrepidation, was it going to be all as bad as
they say? I’d say it wasnt easy be I was let off lightly. The rain was back
by Hamer.

At Hamer there was a combination of reading the map wrong, the ambiguity of
instruction and a sign pointing in the wrong direction. This mistake added a
lot of extra time, extra miles and yet did I know I would have wet feet all
the way back to Ravenscar.

I made it back to the Blue Man and was back on track, the stepping stones
were just about passible, I stopped on Simon Howe for food and pressed on
through the wet conditions, every path was still full of water.

I’d just missed a train before Ellerbeck and reached Lilla Cross before the
sun set. Back in the darkness, this path was the worst on route, nearly lost
my boots twice, the surface had turned to quicksand. I finally reached
Jugger Howes and was desperate to get back to Ravenscar. Reached the final
stone at 8.30.

Many thanks

Aly Smith

Crossing report 01/10/2016

October 6th, 2016

Being wise and having had the Golden Lion recommended (something we would heartily endorse) we set out on a West to East crossing at a rather tardy 3:40am from Osmotherley. Ste had caught a couple of hours sleep in the car after driving up from Birmingham – possibly not the best preparation but some people just won’t be told. Taking on calories in the form of real ale was clearly the better option.

It was with great vigour and not little speed that we flew across the first 10 or so miles, and it was only at Bloworth Crossing that the curves of the old railway started to feel a little endless and the promise of a break – and breakfast – at the Lion Inn because more and more important. A brief but heavy shower did little to cheer us on, not least because there were no actual clouds for the rain to be coming from. Combined with the considerable mocking for my poor memory of exactly which corner you’d see the pub from, it was all a bit grim for a while. As a consequence it was with great joy that we arrived just before 10am and undertook a brief conversation with a wonderful member of staff who wrangled the somewhat unwilling chefs into making us some bacon and sausage butties despite the pub actually being shut. We were eternally grateful and the disgustingly decadent but suitable tip was well deserved.

The main concern for us all had been the bog. We tried our best by repeatedly tempting fate, saying to each other how it wasn’t that bad – but it wasn’t ever that bad! We probably added a mile or two on avoiding some of the more lake like areas but emerged with mostly dry feet. I was actually cheered by the sight of Fylingdales at first but hours later it seemed no closer and we decided it must actually be moving itself away from us. Oddly enough, the radio mast at Ravenscar appears to be able to do the same thing. Ignoring blister based pain, we skipped up to the mast at 18:30 giving us a crossing time of 14 hours 50 minutes. I still can’t quite understand how we managed that! Top tips: The Viewranger app is great and means the maps can stay in your bag. Eat more than you think you need to or you’ll end up with low blood sugar, a dizzy spell, and testing the temperature of a radiator with your head (it was very hot).

Foolishly completed by Rob Parker, Ste Weatherhead, and Mike Baines

Report of a new crossing, 27-28th September 2016

October 4th, 2016

In the midst of writing up my PhD thesis, I decided last week that things were all getting a bit heavy and I needed to clear to my mind. Having long desired to join the Lyke Wake club I set off to Osmotherley via Northallerton, and stayed in the Osmotherley YHA on Monday night.

I wasn’t particularly well prepared for the hike and was carrying far too much weight, including books, tent, sleeping bag and various extraneous items. But I was determined nevertheless to get through it, and had the very good guide book (purchased at Stanfords map shop in London) written by Brian Smailes to help me on my way. I carried 2litres of water and a very large number of chocolate bars.

I left the cairn at Osmotherley at 7.03AM. It was a rainless morning and the sun was rising, emitting a pink glow that reflected off the Cod Beck Reservoir and lent an ethereal quality to the moors. Feeling a little bit drowsy, I plodded for the first few miles through Coalmire Plantation and Live Moor. An early-rising dog-walker confirmed that I was on the right track, and I reached Lord Stones cafe without a hitch. Continuing through to the bleakness of Cringle Moor, there was a slight drizzle which served to wake me up a bit, and I reached the second checkpoint at the Clay Bank Road just before 11AM. It being 10miles into the hike, I set down the backpack and ate a couple of chocolate bars, resolving to increase my pace for the next stage.

This section took me on the long traverse of Urra Moor, which was misty and extremely bleak. I passed a few other hikers walking there and revelled in the general misery of the drizzle and wind. The old railway section after Bloworth Crossing offered a fascinating panorama of the winding moors from an elevated embankment, and as I walked East a Northerly wind was blowing into my right ear hole. I arrived at the Lion Inn before 3PM, and after poking my head through the door it looked extremely warm and pleasant. But with supreme self-restraint I reasoned that I ought to make haste and hurried off up the road before I could be drawn into its homely interior. Instead I walked up the road to the Ralph Cross and had a few more chocolate bars at the roadside. A couple of Dutch hikers walked past and I got into an interesting conversation with them about the EU Referendum and the political situation in Holland. We passed a dead adder lying beside the road, and not far from this deceased snake we parted ways at the peat bog turn-off, which was marked with a painted white arrow and ‘LWW’ on the tarmacadam.

The route over the peat bogs of Glaisdale Moor was my favourite part of the whole walk. Rejuvenated by my chocolate and political discussion, I fairly bounded over the bogs, occasionally sinking in but never deeper than my knees. This is real hiking, it requires a bit of agility and thought about your foot placement and I emerged from this section of the walk feeling very cheerful, albeit stained with stinky black peat. The late afternoon sun was warm for a short time so I changed my socks, took a drink and set about one or two more chocolate bars. After reaching the fourth checkpoint at Hamer, I turned left at the signpost and walked up the road until I found a narrow muddy trail that lead East across Wheeldale Moor. It is true, as my guidebook warned it would be, that this section felt a bit longer than it really is. Having done over 25 miles, I was rushing to try and reach the next checkpoint before the sun set, but the legs were a bit heavy now. I lost the path occasionally on my descent towards the Wheeldale Road, but could see the RAF base up on the hill in the distance. The crossing of Wheeldale Moor followed by the ascent of Simon Howe seemed to take a long time, and I was conscious that the sun was falling fast behind me. When I finally reached the Eller Beck Bridge the sun had fallen below the undulating horizon and I knew I had my most difficult sections of the walk ahead of me.

I was a bit delayed at this point because I arrived at the Southern end of Eller Beck Bridge. On my side of the bridge there was a gated footpath leading through the MOD Fylingdales estate, but my guide book instructed me to cross the bridge and look for a small path on the right, which made me suspect it was on the Northern end of the bridge. After a bit of twilit searching, I concluded that I should just head East through the military-owned area. After about a mile of this, at 7.30PM, the light dwindled to the point where I had to get my lamp out. The lamp was a bit dim, the path before me was muddy and I may have taken a wrong turning here or there. I trusted my compass and continued to head East until I ran into a sign warning me about non-ionizing radiation. I thought it best not to go past this sign but instead veered away from it in a more North-Easterly direction and crossed some fairly thick heath before hitting a well-maintained gravel track. I followed this for half an hour until, to my delight, I reached the crossing with another grave track shown in the guide book. It was pitch black by now and I couldn’t see a clear path heading East, so left the track and headed up the hill through more heath. The summit of the hillside stood against the horizon more darkly than the sky, so I got to the top without a path and was pleased to see Lilla Cross loom out of the darkness. Feeling rather bullish about my prospects of completing the Lyke Wake challenge now, I shuffled off slowly across Fylingdales Moor. This stretch seemed to last for an age, and the lights of traffic on the Scarborough-Whitby road winked at me tauntingly in the distance. I lost the path more than once, but always chose to maintain a course due East until by some miracle I found the path that crossed the ravine at Jugger Howe. There followed an annoyingly long ascent and traipse along a concrete path before I finally reached the main road a short time before midnight.

By this point I was in a bit of pain, as the soggy ground had caused the soles of my feet to wrinkle and blister painfully. I was also a little dehydrated as I’d run out of water a few hours previously, and low on energy as there seemed to be no more chocolate in my bag. I suspected that I was probably a long way from the final checkpoint at Jugger Howes and couldn’t identify my location on the map. Coming across a signpost for a campsite at Spring Hill farm, I decided to make for that. I found a water tap in the darkness at Spring Hill, and what seemed like good flat grass. I couldn’t see Spring Hill on my OS map, and concluded that I may not make the finish in under 24hrs after all. Exhausted and disorientated, I pitched up my tent there with some resignation and went to sleep on the hard ground, which felt like a feather bed. As an afterthought, I set my alarm for 5AM on the off chance that I woke up with a better idea for how to find the finishing point.

Waking up reluctantly and in pain, but somewhat refreshed and rehydrated, I looked at my map again. There was still no sign of Spring Hill, but when I turned the map over, there it was, just a little further North! I immediately packed up my tent and hurried off towards the main road. While packing, I found some treasure – one last Mars Bar in the bottom of my rucksack, which I inhaled. It was after 6AM by now, and I had less than an hour to reach the final Lyke Wake cairn! This was not so easy in the dark with zero knowledge of the area. Heading back to the main road, I followed it South before turning down a small non-signposted road on my left, which lead due East. ‘What the hell’ I thought, and broke into a run. At the end of this road there was a signpost, pointing towards Ravenscar! I set off running across a field in the direction it indicated, and as the morning lightened I could just make out the pointy mast of Beacon Howes on the brow of a hill ahead! I quickened my pace – there was about 40 minutes until my time was up and I didn’t want to take any chances. As I ran full pelt up the hill, the sun broke over the Eastern horizon and glowed red at me. I didn’t slow down until the mast loomed over me and I finally saw the cairn beside it with the words ‘Lyke Wake Walk’ on it. I had arrived just 25 minutes before the 24 hour deadline. My mission complete, I collapsed in a sweaty heap on the grass to watch the silent sun rise crimson over the sleepy cliffs of Yorkshire.

Michael Ridley

Full Breakdown of checkpoint timings (checkpoints taken from the official Lyke Wake Walk Guide by Brian Smailes):

Start: 7.03
Checkpoint 1: 9.25
Checkpoint 2: 10.55
Checkpoint 3: 14.10
Checkpoint 4: 15.55
Checkpoint 5: 18.50
Checkpoint 6: 23.49
Finish: 6.38

Time taken: 23hrs 35minutes

My crossing, 30-31 August 2016.

September 26th, 2016

…………….. joined by my son Charles between the Lion Inn and the finish at Ravenscar.

A delayed train from London left me at the LWW stone later than planned but here I was, about to walk 40 miles across the North York Moors. A time-stamped photo for posterity (and Instagram) and off up the grassy slope to Scarth Wood Moor, bathed in sunshine. Mid 20s. Unusual for these parts, I’m told. It was 15.10.

LWW stones and way signs kept me on track along deserted wooded paths. Where was everybody? I’d expected it to be busier during a bank holiday week. The Guidebook warned of steep steps but I climbed them without incident and emerged onto the moor and Carlton Bank, with stunning views past Roseberry Topping to the sea, more than 20 miles away. I reached Checkpoint 1 at 17.40.

Choosing the Plantation route at Great Broughton, I passed my first coffin stone. By now it was clear my late start meant I wouldn’t reach the Lion Inn at Blakey before last orders. I called ahead and asked my son to bring food. Proper food. My pockets brimmed with energy bars but as a dinner, they just don’t hack it. Reached Checkpoint 2 at 19.10.

A sheep posed artistically for a photo by the sign-post to Carr Ridge. It was the last living creature I would see for the next two hours. On Urra Moor, it was getting cold. Taking heed of the Guidebook’s hypothermia table showing the descent from shivering through to death, I pulled on my jacket. And as I reached Bloworth Crossing and the railroad, it was also getting dark. Actually, it was very dark, and I didn’t have a torch. I know – there’s travelling light and there’s just plain stupid! I was beginning to imagine the next day’s headlines, “London man missing on North York Moors”, when I saw a light in the distance, moving in my direction. My son, who’d had the forethought to pack a head torch had come to my rescue. An hour later, at 22.15, we arrived at the Lion Inn and after a celebratory LWW-half-way-point pint, grabbed a few hours’ sleep.

The Landlord kindly left breakfast out for us and after leaving quietly through the Fire Exit (we had paid!) were up the road at Checkpoint 3, in thick fog, at 06.15. Past Fat Betty and left at the marker stone, we turned into the boggy section, with some unease, given its reputation. We needn’t have worried. With little rain for the last few weeks, it was mostly dry apart from the one place where I misjudged it with a reckless jump into thick black sludge. By now the sun had burnt off the fog and a second glorious day beckoned. We reached Checkpoint 4 at 08.15.

We followed others’ tracks through the heather to Blue Man I’ the Moss and on to Wheeldale Moor. After a short pitstop by the road, we headed down the ravine to the stepping stones with the sun sparkling on Wheeldale Beck. Cue more photos. Up the slope to Simon Howe and our only routing error. I should have read the update on the website, “…a neatly mowed path. Very tempting, but DON’T TAKE IT ! keep ahead…” Picking our way back through the heather, we made it down to the railway line and Checkpoint 5 at 11.40, just in time to see the NY Moors train on its way to Whitby.

On past penned sheep, the alternative route took us around Fylingdales and up to Lilla Cross for our first sight of the radio mast at the finish. Seeing it definitely gives you a boost but doesn’t quite offset the fatigue. Even so, despite fatigue, the view from the ravine at Jugger Howe was one of the highlights of the walk. We reached Checkpoint 6 at 14.15.

The end was in sight but oddly, I didn’t really want it to end. Why would you? A carefree walk on a sunny day (albeit, a long one) through stunning countryside. We made it to the mast 30 mins later, at 14.45. 16 hours 5 mins of walking including stops but more importantly, 23 hours 35 mins elapsed time. Made it with 25 minutes to spare!

It took nearly two hours by road to get back to Northallerton and highlighted to me just how far we’d walked. On the train journey back to London, I reflected on the trip with more than a sense of satisfaction. I’d do it again tomorrow – though next time I’d take a torch.

Martin Ingell

Lyke Wake Walk crossing 09.09.16

September 24th, 2016

Arrived at the car park outside Osmotherley just before midnight, via the back of a motor bike a rare experience for me.
There was a transit van parked with its occupants seen in the distance head torches flashing. I was a little annoyed as I wanted to do the walk alone and have that feeling of isolation.
Set off and to my surprise passed the group of walkers within a mile and a half, i think to their surprise also.
One hour in the rain finally arrived, the thick drizzle type which only allowed vision of two feet ahead of me. I stumbled at the top of Carlton bank and put a hole in the right knee of my Gore-tex trousers, that’s torn it, I thought.
After an hour the rain stopped and I started to get my head around the task in hand, I could still see head torches in the distance behind me and the feeling of being hunted was with me. This forced me on at a greater speed, the only problem was that I was drinking my water quicker.
Rosedale and the lion inn were reached after seven hours and i thought my goal of fifteen hour total was easy in reach.
I saw the transit van waiting at the car park for the group of walkers behind me, but no sign of them.
Rosedale moor seems to get worse, bogs galore. Crossing the moors seemed to take forever and the sun was warming things up rapidly my water supply getting less.
I slipped going down to the stepping stones, my left knee suffered but fortunately didn’t lock like it had last time.
Water now gone all I could think about was the bottle of water ahead at my car, continuing on I reached the Ravenscar after sixteen hours, one hour more than I had hoped.
Felt tired my body knowing it had done some work but also pleased with that feeling of achievement.
Will I do it a third time ?
We’ll see.

Mike O’Connor……….

Date of passing: Saturday 13th August 2016 Beth Wilmot & Matt Naylor ~ Lincolnshire

September 22nd, 2016

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!

LWW Crossing Report – Crazy Dude and his 2 Rottweilers

September 21st, 2016

I would like to report my third crossing of the Lyke Wake Walk, from Cod Beck to Ravenscar on 16th & 17th September 2016. My first crossing (W to E) was in December 2015 and my second (E to W) was in May of this year.
I’d like to say that I had planned the third walk well in advance, but in fact it was a fairly last minute thing. I’d had a week away in Switzerland doing some walking the week before (in the Grindelwald area near to the Eiger – it comes well recommended!), and on the back of that I thought I’d have another go at the LWW. The weather had been good, so I hoped that the boggy section might be dry-ish.
My wife Sue dropped me and our two Rottweilers – Cesar & Jasmine – at Cod Beck just after 10pm on Friday 16th. The weather was good, but although it was meant to be a full moon, the cloud cover kept it obscured for most of the night.
The first stage was uneventful – the dogs had a good drink at the stream near to Huthwaite and then we continued up the steps and along to Trig Point. After this and on the way down to Lordstones, we could hear the ‘happy campers’ who had congregated at Carlton bank for a Mountain Bike race weekend. Rotties being Rotties, they became really focused on where these noises were coming from. We stopped briefly for a bite to eat and a quick drink, but fortunately we didn’t actually encounter any of the campers – just as well really as I’m sure the dogs would have started barking and woken up the entire site!
When walking with the dogs and in the dark, I always take the low path near to Broughton Plantation. The younger of the dogs – Jasmine – must believe she is a mountain goat, as she explores every nook and cranny. The high path would very likely end up with a painful injury and a severe wallet extraction at the vets, so the low path it is for me. There are still a couple of fallen trees partially blocking the path which isn’t great, but we arrived at “Robbie’s Bench” near Clay Bank for our now obligatory 5-minute break there. I walk this part of the LWW regularly with the dogs and they now associate the bench with stopping for treats!
Onwards to Urra Moor and it started to ‘blow a hooley’ – out came the windproof jacket and onwards we went. The satisfaction of knowing when we were at the high point of the walk was short-lived when I remembered that I still had the Wheeldale and Jugger climbs to do!
The moon made a brief appearance and the clearing sky coincided with the passing overhead of the International Space Station at 0421.
The Lion Inn was all quiet as I walked past around 5am. Thankfully this meant that it was too early for the tempting smell of bacon butties to distract me. I managed to get a phone signal and sent a message to my wife who then set of for Rosedale Road car park with an ETA of 0630. This meant that I could have a relatively calm stroll – despite this part of the journey being the easiest to traverse, I can’t help but feel that I’d rather be walking on the moors rather than a road. I had considered taking the path off the Bloworth to Blakey line to Ralph’s Cross, but the thought of cutting off the Lion Inn part of the walk made me feel that I’ be cheating myself and reducing the mileage count.
Wifey arrived on cue and I had half an hour in the car drinking the best coffee I had ever tasted! From this point the dogs went home (two stiles to cross with two Rotties ain’t much fun!).
The boggy section was the best I have seen it. It still lived up to its name, but was nowhere near as bad as on my first two crossings.
The stepping stones at Wheeldale Beck were easily traversed – back in December the water was going over the top of the stones but this time it was fine. Up from the beck was where muscle fatigue started to take hold so I took it relatively easy for half an hour or so until I arrived at Simon Howe. Then the focus was on the ‘Cheese Grater’ (Fylingdales). At Ellerbeck I took 10 mins out to refuel as I was feeling really tired at this point.
The Steam Train went past around 1145 which is always good to see but then it was onwards to Lilla Cross and Jugger Howe. By this point the muscles were protesting so I had frequent mini breaks punctuated by voices through my headphones of “Pausing Workout” and “Resuming Workout” – I have a Nike tracking device and had set the app on my phone to ‘auto pause’, so every time I stop, it stops and I get this message. At least it gave me someone to hurl my abuse at!
My wife was waiting for me at the Ravenscar stone – she worries when I do the walk, but having read the numerous crossing reports, she gets it why many people do this more than once. Still, she was happy to see me and relieved that the life insurance policy can go back into safe keeping.
So, the Ravenscar stone was reached at 1519 hours on Saturday 17th September 2016 – 17 hours and 10 minutes after I had left Cod Beck. According to my Nike App, it was 40.23 miles and my active walking time was 15.5 hours which I am happy with. I may have been exhausted, but I was also happy that I hadn’t cut across the Lion Inn corner as I know the mileage would have been under 40 miles and that would have left me wanting to go back out next weekend to put things right……..

Paul Walsh
(plus Cesar & Jasmine for half of the way!)

12 – 13th August 16 – On through the night, and on, and on…

August 25th, 2016

“@XX% it, we’re stuck in heavy traffic and we’ve booked a taxi to Ravenscar for 4:30pm!”…

And so began an eventful Lyke Wake Walk crossing for 3 silly buggers from West Yorkshire.  So, we put back our trip with the ferryman until 5:00pm and set the wheels in motion for what would become a series of not entirely excusable mishaps.      

Landing at Ravenscar Visitors Centre at 6:30pm we were in high spirits, looking forward to our planned arrival in Osmotherley at midday latest, giving us more than enough time for a good rest before some light alcoholic refreshment and a good feed; ahh, bliss…

Best laid plans of mice and men and all that..

Setting off under the gaze of a beautiful glowing sunset at 7:00pm, with the good path surrounded by dense purple heather, it felt almost as if we were walking into a painting of the North York Moors in its proudest moment.  Passing a number of carved symbols in boulders lining the path it does give the sense of a spiritual crossing, making it hard to think of anything else one would rather be doing on a Friday evening.  It was therefore, safe to say that any anxieties we may have had about the walk rapidly disappeared, to be replaced by a sense of companionship and calm. 

Descending the steep ravine of Jugger Howe saw the dying embers of the day passing us by, ushering in what was to become a long night of judgement.  I will say now that we thought we were well prepared, each carrying what can best be described as a small citadel on our backs, with portcullis, court jesters, questionable street venders and cloak and dagger machinations all present and correct.  It is safe to say we weren’t travelling light. 

Head torches at the ready we approached the Flyingdales Moor section and made our first error, completely missing the path off across the moor which kicks out from the military track.  Luckily for us the most observant member of our little group spotted a sign that made clear we were off-piste, so a quick look at the gps was followed by a turnabout and retreat to find the right path – that’s one extra mile we owed the walk.  Things didn’t get much better after that, with the moor proving to be boggy with the path through being almost impossible to discern in the dark.  After a number of pratfalls and incoherent mutterings we stumbled across a walled enclosure which did us proud for our first half hour break.  “Well then chaps, I don’t think we’ll be making it to the Lion Inn for last orders!”

With the path becoming (somewhat) clearer after refreshments the next item of note was to be the trek into Goathland and down to Eller Beck, which saw us once again completely lose ourselves.  This was to mark the start of what was to become a running of the gauntlet that saw us desperately scanning the ground for hidden paths, stepping knee deep into bogs, trailing through chest high heather in an attempt to rectify a further screw up, and generally turning the air a very dark shade of blue.  This lasted right up until we hit the blessed relief of Rosedale Head around dawn.  One may think (as we did) that as long as you keep walking west you can’t go far wrong but be warned, in the pitch black of night with nothing in the way of line of sight, the flaws in this philosophy become all too apparent all too quickly.  All that said, a highlight of this section was seeing all the frogs basking in the occasional glimpses of moonlight bouncing off the rocks (we didn’t stand on any of them!).

The walk along the road and then up the old railway line felt like it had been dialled in just for us and we could all three have kissed the tarmac and thanked the heavens.  Disappointingly we were too early for any breakfast at the Lion, but even so our spirits rose as we trundled along the metalled paths, once more allowing ourselves the thought, “you know what, this isn’t so bad, at this rate we’ll be at the finish for midday, back on track!”

Best laid plans…

Passing a jolly group of fellow travellers towards the end of the track, who were (wisely) going west to east, we passed the time of day and wickedly took some pleasure in informing them that the walk was “a bit boggy”, to which came the reply, “we’ll we’ve got the bogs and you’ve got the hills”.  Hills?  Woah, stop right there, being the idiots that we are and thinking we knew the (coastal) Cleveland Way pretty well, we presumed that it was mild undulations but nothing too strenuous for three pairs of dog tired legs.  Never presume. 

Although we all like to think of ourselves as seasoned hillwalkers, making very favourable training times in the Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge and various other training exercises, nothing prepared us for the physical and mental wall we hit as we went up and then down (wash, rinse, repeat) across the hill range of the penultimate section.  The gps seemed to be enjoying itself a little too much, with what appeared to be miles spawning from nowhere as we scrutinised each ‘point’ of a mile.  It is safe to say that collective tempers were frayed, along with any number of ligaments you care to mention.  It is however, worth acknowledging as others have the tremendous views and our crossing was blessed with a lovely day to enjoy them, particularly the delight that is Roseberry Topping.  Also, later happening across the Lord Stones Café was quite literally, a life saver, giving us respite and a chance to refuel before the final push. 

On this trip through purgatory we met a pleasant lady who asked “when are you next meeting your support team?”  Bugger, we knew there was something else we forgot!  After a final slog through the woodland we eventually crawled into Osmotherley on Saturday at 6:45pm having done a total of 45 miles, a mere 6.5 hours later than planned, but thankfully within the allotted 24.  Although we only had the energy for one beer, the fish and chippy was a gift from the gods.

On reflection we all agreed that we were caught out on this occasion.  Through all our focus on physical and logistical prep we overlooked the blindingly obvious; you need to know where you’re going before you get there.           

So, would we do it all again?  In a heartbeat, but never east to west and never through the night.  Lessons for the future are to travel fast and light.  We’d set off from Osmotherley around 3:00am and stop at the Lion Inn for breakfast, before facing the moors well fed and in the comfort of day light. 

Best laid plans…

Tim Wilkinson, Richard Graham and John Graham, a.k.a three silly buggers