28-29 December 2018 – A Lyke Wake Pantomime (Oh yes it was!!)………………….

January 2nd, 2019

A brilliant weather forecast (at least for late December) tempted me away from the residual turkey & mince pies to have a little dirge on the Moors.

Earlier this year the New Lyke Wake Club demonstrated its sense of the ridiculous & made me a Past Master – the qualification for this honour includes the following ‘exhortation’…. ‘he/she should be able to find his/her way across any moor without map or compass. in any conditions, day or night, drunk or sober….’, so on this occasion I went for ‘impeccably sober’ combined with ‘overnight’ and ‘without map or compass’ (doh!). Darkness descended whilst I was on Hasty Bank and (unforecasted) mist & drizzle were the conditions as I reascended up to Carr Rigg towards Botton Head. Head down against the swirling wind I pressed onwards along the fire-break. After a while it occurred to me that I’d being going downhill for a while & still hadn’t reached the railway. Mmmm? A momentary gap in the mist and the track ahead appeared to be taking me in the direction of a vertical array of bright red lights, pretty sure; (a) the TV mast on Bilsdale West Moor is the only one within 25 miles & (b) west is definitely not the direction I’m supposed to be going in! Another fleeting glimpse through the mist allowed me to deploy latent boy-scouting skills; I identified The Plough & hence Polaris – allowing me to progress eastwards & northwards until I was sure I was on Rudland Rigg & then onwards back to the railway. I thought that might be enough navigational incompetence for one crossing until I got on to Rosedale Moor & after skirting a bog or two realised I was no longer on the line of boundary stones – I could have done without ploughing through soggy waist high heather in the misty murky darkness and realised when I got to the road that I somehow had managed to actually get north of Bluewath Beck. So decided to take the route north of Wheeldale Gill over Pike Hill which was fine & I got to the Stape Road ok. Common sense would have seen me go south & get back on the Classic Route at Wheeldale Lodge but both good things & mistakes seem to come in threes, so heading eastwards for what I thought was Goathland saw me floundering about in the dark eventually finding a farm track & bridge which in retrospect I think must have been somewhere near Nelly Ayre Foss and onwards across a moor which seemed to endure for ever & after climbing over a second barbed-wire fence, got to the railway without ever finding Simon Howe or Goathland village. Couldn’t work out where I was but decided there weren’t likely to be any trains at 4 am & so walked along the railway uphill which proved to be the correct decision as this got me to Fen Bogs. The rest went according to regulation, though I have very firmly decided that the loose
angular gravel they’ve placed on the Fylingdales Moor firebreak is an exquisite form of purgatory for blistered heels after 35+ miles. So overall a bit of a navigational pantomime. Past Master? Yeah, right!

Q – Is this a Lyke Wake record? – the only dirger ever to have got lost on the Urra Moor firebreak!

Dirger Evans.

31st Aug-1st Sep 2018 – A Note of Caution (well a picture anyway) ~~~~~~~

January 2nd, 2019
At least 2 Dirgers have done Lyke Wake crossings from end to end without footwear & in the very recent past a young lady has been pictured (on-line) squelching through the bogs carrying her boots & socks in her hand. The fantastic weather of the last summer made it possible to walk across areas of peat that are normally sticky black gloop of some depth. Anyhow, a word of caution for those contemplating a barefoot dirge – a pic of a small sample of some of the many glass fragments that surfaced on Wheeldale Moor this last summer.

Ouch ! ( Mine’s the pound, you can keep the glass )

Dirger Evans

Lyke Wake Walk – East to West Crossing Mon 29 May 2018

November 28th, 2018

Daniel & Maurice Calvert (support by Naomi & Liz Calvert), Calverley, West Yorkshire.
We tried the walk together in 2012 but thunderstorms and lack of fitness meant we only made it from Osmotherley to Eller Beck.
This time we camped at Bent Rigg Farm, Ravenscar and were dropped off at the start stone at Beacon Howes at 0441 in thick mist.

Ready for the off……………………………………>

Blue Men in the Moss

We stopped for breakfast (0608 to 0633) just before Lilla Cross and made it to Eller Beck for a short support stop (0802 to 0818), all in thick mist. We rested again at Wheeldale Upper Road (0940 to 0948). By now the hot sun was burning off the mist and we finally saw a distant view westwards from the top of Simon Howe.
The heat continued to rise as we reached Blue Man i’ th’ Moss at 1104 and our supported lunch stop on the road below Shunner Howe (1140 to 1235). By then we had realised how very dry the moors were this year, but we still had wet feet from some of the remaining bogs.
At the layby on Knott Road we had another short stop (1400 to 1415) before the slog along the road around Rosedale Head in increasingly uncomfortable temperatures. Following Jackson’s Road (1455) was not the best idea with rough ground before attaining the railway track and two hot hours before we reached Bloworth Crossing (1655 to 1705) and our support team again at Clay Bank Top (1810 to 1822).
This was so tough, but we had to finish! Setting-off for the final stretch, the mist came down again, blocking any view across the Tees Valley. Our support team met us twice more as we battled the final miles at snail’s pace passing Carlton Bank Road at 1952, Huthwaite Green at 2112 and finally dragging ourselves up the last climb to Scarth Nick and the LWW stone at 2226. Successful but exhausted we had completed in 17h 45, 1h 45 behind our planned schedule. It was a long, hard day for supporters, as well!
This was Daniel’s first crossing, at his second attempt. Maurice first completed the walk in 1967 aged 10 and this was his 7th crossing: the previous to this was in 1973, 45 years ago.








Invaluable Backup Team

Timings (also in report above).
Beacon Howes 0441
A171 0515
Jugger Howe Beck 0540
Breakfast 0608 0633
Lilla Cross 0715
A169 0802 0818
Wheeldale Upper Road 0940 0948
Blue Man 1104
Road below Shunner Howe 1140 1235
Layby on Knott Road 1400 1415
Jackson Rd 1455
Bloworth 1655 1705
B1257 1810 1822
Carlton Bank Road 1952
Huthwaite Green 2112
Finish stone 2226

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

November 9th, 2018

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.
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
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

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

Crossing Report, Saturday 3rd June 2017

October 9th, 2018

Crossing Report

It’s 1.30am, Saturday 3rd June. A sleek black car wheels noiselessly into Sheepwash car park and out step four large men, all in the prime of life. A small, red empty car is the only other thing there. Chatting quietly, the men grab teas and coffees from flasks and sort their equipment for the day ahead. They seek out various locations in the car park to relieve themselves before setting off. Some stand quite close to the red car. Mysteriously, laughter is suddenly heard. Oh dear, it seems the car wasn’t empty after all; when we arrived the two occupants must have been in a prone position for some reason. What on earth had they been doing at that time of the night? And what were they laughing at now????

Anyway, leaving that aside, we set off on the journey. Three were returning for their 2nd crossing – Chris Wood (2013), John Bamford (80s sometime), and Nick Coombes (2013). Joining them for his first attempt was Derek Lunn, who’d come down from Hawick in Scotland, with a previous best ever effort of 20 miles, completed over his local Scottish hills, by way of preparation.

The walk through the woods by headtorch was atmospheric to say the least. Before long day broke cool and cloudy – ideal walking weather, in fact. The pace was steady, the rucksacks were full and, as we discovered afterwards, we were all thinking “Not gonna make this!” but no-one actually said so. By the time we hit Urra Moor and began the long plod towards Bloworth and on to the Lion at Blakey, the sun was well and truly in control, the clouds were receding and the suncream was going round like a pass-the-parcel present.

The moors were glorious; a riot of birdlife. Curlews, grouse, quail, lapwings, skylarks and many others beyond our capacity to identify, were in abundance. Truly delightful.

Checkpoint 3 to 4 passed without incident – everyone kept dry feet, thanks to the recent dry weather. The “Startled Me Clean Out Of Me Boots!” award went to Chris, who on several occasions found a grouse shooting out from almost under his feet, where they had hidden until the very last moment before fleeing with a loud squawk and a flurry of wings.

4 to 5 seemed to take forever, perhaps because it did. 5 to 6 was a killer too – it never seemed to end. By this time our pace had slackened somewhat and we had all turned a brighter shade of pink. Derek and John had for some hours been assisted in their progress by powerful painkilling remedies for painful hips and knees. The prescription medication had had a profoundly beneficial effect on John in particular, who floated effortlessly some 2 feet above the heather for the last 27 miles of the trip, singing songs by the Bee Gees, Status Quo, Level 42, Roy Wood and anyone else for that matter.

At long, long last, however, the beacon was reached, the stone was patted, photos were taken, and the Ravenscar hotel bar was treated to an olfactory assault to the dismay of the well-dressed diners, and we quaffed a few watching the sun bring down the curtain on a fabulous day. Skilful navigation from John and Chris had kept us on course throughout. Special thanks must go to Nicola Coombes in particular and to Julie Wood for tireless support at checkpoints 3 and 5, and for the lifts home at the end of an 18 hour epic. The last word, however, goes to Derek Lunn, who had attempted the walk knowing it was far beyond anything he had previously undertaken, and who refused to yield to the heat, the pain, the tired legs, the frankly ridiculous quantities of English flatulence, and the appalling jokes of the assembled company, and never once complained! What a great effort, and what a grand day.

Crossing, 1st October 2018

October 9th, 2018

Crossing Report No 3

Well, it had to happen, didn’t it? We’d done it twice before from Osmotherley, and the allure of the potential title “Master Of Misery” was impossible to resist. So we agreed to make an attempt on a third – and unsupported –  East to West crossing. Parking the car on a small spot of hard standing just a few yards from the Ravenscar beacon, we set out from the stone shortly after 7.00 a.m. on Monday 1st October – the 63rd anniversary of the very first crossing back in the mists of time….

Luckily for us the mists of time were nowhere to be seen as we began on a clear and cool morning with a slight headwind for company. Above us the clouds looked vaguely threatening but were sliding past, and gradually cleared towards the southeast without bothering us. We were travelling light, alternately jogging and walking, with our eyes on a 12 hour crossing.

It was strange crossing Jugger Howe Beck with fresh legs! Navigating was pretty straightforward as we made a beeline for Lilla Cross, then veered away from Fylingdales to drop down to Eller Beck Bridge. By this time the sun was out, the clouds were gone, visibility was extremely good and a freshening breeze from the northwest kept us cool. We followed our noses past that to arrive at Simon Howe and onward to the stepping stones at Wheeldale Beck, and on up to the road. We were beset by a tad of indecision as to the best line from here, resulting in a spot of heatherwork to find and join the best path we could alongside the Wheeldale Plantation. We arrived at the Blue Man-i-th-moss and pressed on, with thoughts of a lunch stop at the Lion already uppermost in our minds. The path across the peat proved pretty benign thanks to the baking summer, and we came through unscathed save for one or two brief muddy squelches – just enough to soak the trainers but no worse. On reaching the roads at Rosedale Head we jogged round to the pub where the nutritional repast of choice for elite athletes like ourselves – a huge plate of chips and a pint of coca-cola – went down a treat. Six hours gone and on schedule.

Leaving the comfort of the seats in the pub was psychologically damaging, and we emerged to join “the long and winding road,” as someone once said, that leads not to your door in this case, but to Bloworth Crossing. This proved to be extremely tedious and tiring in equal measure, in the face of a fresh headwind. Our efforts at running decreased and the time spent plodding went up accordingly. But all bad things come to an end, and the section across Urra Moor and down to the road crossing at the foot of Hasty Bank saw us making better progress. We manfully skirted round the Wainstones, choosing instead to trot through the woods of the Broughton Plantation, and continued on to pass the Lord Stones Café somewhere around 5pm. Fortified by ham and egg sandwiches that had earlier been acquired at the lunch stop, we felt that victory was within our grasp. By this time it had started to rain gently, so it was time to don the raincoats and raise the hoods. Up we gasped onto Carlton Bank, and then enjoyed the gentle descent across and down to Live Moor Plantation and Huthwaite green, to which we were briefly chased by an all too friendly large greyhound that seemed, perhaps understandably, to have mistaken our lower legs for a couple of pairs of  chicken bones.

Passing through Clain Wood our spirits were considerably lifted by glances at the watch, which revealed that our time was good. Emerging at the cattle grid, we made our way cheerfully to the finishing stone, even managing to take in the last few hundred metres at a shambling shuffle, if not a true run. Nevertheless we stopped the clock in 11 hrs 33 minutes. Job done! Time to go home and rejoice in the misery of it all….


Nick Coombes

John Bamford

Crossing date: 1st October 2018

Saturday 27th July 2013, Chris Wood and Nick Coombes

October 9th, 2018

What follows is the Lyke Wake Report of Chris Wood and Nick Coombes, of West Ayton and East Ayton respectively, following their maiden crossing of Saturday 27th July 2013…

Now here’s a tale I’d like to tell,
Like many heard before
It tells of how two youngsters
Set off to conquer the moor.

Two pals they were from Ayton village
One’s East, and one’s from West,
They came not to set records,
But to put themselves to the test.

Handsome and bold, fearless and brave
These young men were – ‘tis true,
And the years they held between ‘em
Only totalled a hundred and two.

They drove off from their village
In the middle of a moonlit night
The stars shone brightly to guide their way
It was a magnificent sight.

They parked by Cod Beck reservoir
And filled up on sarnies and tea
They planned to start at 4 o’clock sharp
But first they both needed a pee.

That done, they started up the slope,
as Brian’s book says you should.
The skies were clear and dawn was breaking
As they journeyed along Scarth Wood.

They passed on through and climbed the steps
With nary a thought of stopping
And as the sun rose on Drake Howe Hill
They spotted Roseberry Topping.

At checkpoint 2 they stopped to put on
Suncream and drink water.
Then undeterred and without a word
They went on like lambs to the slaughter.

They lengthened their stride cross Urra Moor
The pace got slightly faster.
Bloworth Crossing came and went,
Thoughts turned to beer and pasta.

At the Lion Inn they met their team
Just seven hours had passed.
The supporters gave out sandwiches
Which they gobbled down real fast.

Refreshed, they stood and thanked their team,
Clean socks on their smelly feet.
Then on they pressed to the old Ralph Cross –
Ahead lay the path of peat.

The summer heat had helped them;
T’was mostly dry and spongey.
But here and there still lurked some spots
Of bog, which were quite gungey.

And so of course it came to pass,
As the Gods of the moors may please,
That Chris fell into a deepish hole
And sank right up to his knees.

His partner Nick ran to lend a hand
But Chris climbed out unaided.
He seemed to have gained a pair of socks –
Dark brown and fairly jaded.

As they continued across the peat
They suffered the briefest of showers,
But little did they know what lay in store
In the following couple of hours.

Onward now the heroes pressed
Past checkpoint 4 they strode
Their target was now Eller Beck
But their pace had slightly slowed.

And as they passed the Man i’ th’ Moss
Their cheerfulness was banished
As, despite the line of dots on the map,
The path had completely vanished!

From north to south across the moor
By heather they were confronted
Some of it old, some of it tall,
And some of it quite stunted.

No trace of a passage could they espy –
The heather had covered it all.

No choice remained but to stagger on through
Trip, stumble, slip and fall.

They gained a lot of knowledge there
About Yorkshire’s moorland heather:
That it scratches your legs to hell and back
And seems to go on forever.

But with never-ending fortitude
They finally prevailed,
Their courage never faltered;
Their spirit never failed.

And as they neared checkpoint 5
Where more sustenance awaited,
A beautiful adder crossed their path
Which left them both elated.

Now at this point it’s fair to say,
The two were feeling shattered.
A cup of tea and a slice of cake
Were all that really mattered.

And there she was, the maiden fair,
Standing by the beck
Across the moor came Nick and Chris
And they were neck and neck.

Nick’s wife and son were there again
Five hours since the pub.
They fed the walkers and saw them off
Refreshed by tea and grub.

The day of toiling in the sun
Had left our heroes dirty,
The homeward push was on them now,
The clock stood at 5.30.

They trudged on up to Lilla Cross
In view of the “big cheese grater.”
They knew that they would finish now
The question was “sooner – or later?”

They wondered how other travellers
Could do it in rain or snow.
Because, despite the good weather,
The legs were beginning to go.

But finally, despite the pain
The Beacon hove into view,
They crawled along those final miles
And reached it at 8.32.

Still not content with the victory
They pressed on to the Raven Hall bar.
It took thirty minutes for that last mile –
The hardest one by far!

Exhausted, grimy, weary and worn,
They sat and supped their beer,
And said to each other, with a strange sort of grin
“Shall we do it again – next year?”

Crossing 28th July 1982……………………

September 18th, 2018

I am writing this letter as an addition to my son’s report. As a witch who made my one and only crossing at the age of 18 on 28th July 1982 (copy Condolence Card attached) I would like to apply for membership of the New Lyke Wake Club in my married name of Catherine Thorn.

However I think you may be interested in the circumstances of my crossing, as therein lies a possibly forgotten piece of Lyke Wake history.

A proud son of Yorkshire, Brian Robinson by name, had moved to Norfolk to work as a school teacher at Earlham High School in Norwich. For a time from the late 1970s to the early 1980s he would lead a party of sixth formers (with a few of his fellow teachers) on an annual trip to attempt the Lyke Wake Walk. My late father Jim Hooley was a colleague of his; being a fellow northerner (albeit from the other side of the Pennines) he shared Brian’s enthusiasm for this madcap project, and having completed his own crossing with one of the first of Brian’s parties (in the days when you still had to walk down into Ravenscar to sign your name in the book at the hotel) he would go on subsequent trips to help with the support. It was through this that I came to join the 1982 trip. I enclose copies of photographs from my Dad’s album. The top two are of some of us in mid attempt; I am the one with the blonde hair and yellow cagoule. The bottom two are of us revisiting the end point on the following day; in the left hand one, three of us who reached the finish together (I am the one on the left) are reconstructing our triumphant final lunge for the transmitter (which you could touch in those days); on the right is a larger team photo taken next to the transmitter. I am delighted to report that all but one person in the party making the attempt managed the crossing, which is a testament to the hardiness of Norfolk people.

(Totally unconnected circumstances led to me and my husband setting up home in Helmsley in 1996 and bringing up our family here, by the way.)

I am sure that my Dad would be delighted that doing the crossing and then supporting the next generation to do so is now becoming a family tradition. Indeed my husband is hoping to make another attempt next year, possibly in the company of our older son Alex; I will certainly be in support, possibly with Tom – although he may be making a second crossing in the hope of beating my time!

With kind regards,

Catherine Thorn



Crossing Report: Monday 27th August 2018

September 17th, 2018

Having lived in Helmsley for the entirety of my childhood, and also having a ‘witch’ for a mother, the Lyke Wake Walk had always been something on the agenda of things to do which I knew, in reality, would probably never get done. However, with four close family deaths within the space of nine months, including two grandparents, I believed that there was no better time than now to complete the Dirge in their memory.

I had once made an attempt as a spry 15 year old, only to resurrect a knee injury at the half way mark. Now as an infirm 20 year old, it was finally time to put aside all doubt that I could endure such physical and mental hardship. Moreover, in the time since my naïve teenage attempt, I had become a student in London, and was now on the committee for the Barts and the London Alpine Club; specializing mainly in country pub jaunts over any kind of physical endurance (it is a student organization after all!).

Joining me for the challenge was my father. He had just recovered from flu the week before and, in his still delusional state, had proposed the crossing. (A decision he would later come to regret.) Mum took on the role of support, a witch who could impart her wisdom, and Tunnock’s wafers, whenever required.

The decision as a student to get out of bed at 5am is never one which is taken lightly, nor without sincere conviction. The start time from the stone at Osmotherly was 06:15, much later than we would have liked as it would mean finishing in the dark (if we got that far!). The mantra was just to think about getting to the Lion Inn, as this is where we would have our first support from Mum, and also because even if we had to bow out there, it would still have been a lovely day out.

The up and down along the early sections of the Cleveland Way were no obstacle for my mountaineering background; unfortunately no Eagle Owl was spotted at the Wain Stones (the bank holiday is probably his day off). We actually found the flat monotony of the old train line from Bloworth Crossing to be more agonizing on the legs. We made good time to the Lion, only stopping once for the little boys’ room at the Lordstones country park. We had our first rendezvous with Mum at the Lion, topping up our water and wolfing down the cheese and pickle sandwiches provided.

However, it was at this point that Dad started to regret his decision to undertake the walk so soon after having had the flu. His pace was slowing from the Lion, and he was forever checking his pulse, worried he might have overdone it for a 56 year old.

Mum had always said that from Shunner Howe, you can see RAF Fylingdales far off in the distance, however it is imperative that you must never gaze upon it, for as a watched pot never boils, a watched RAF Fylingdales never gets any nearer; this advice is quite true. With quite a lot of encouragement to Dad, we finally made it to Eller Beck. It was here that Dad realized that if he carried on, we wouldn’t be finished until late into the night. It was here that he reluctantly (and in my opinion very wisely) pulled out of the Dirge. It was now up to me to complete the final 8 miles, solo, while Dad and Mum went for hot chocolates at the Raven Hall Hotel.

The light was waning as I looked out from Lilla Cross toward the finish, just being able to make out the mast that marked the finish in the fading light. It was also at this point that I noticed that my headtorch wasn’t working, and also that the lid on the Ribena in my rucksack had decided to unscrew itself; all remaining food and clothing was now soaked and sticky. Naturally navigation became an issue on the descent from Lilla Cross to Juggers Beck. (The one section of the walk – and probably the whole North York Moors – which I had never walked before.) I could easily take a bearing on my compass but it was not being able to see the map and compass itself which was the issue. With some luck, I made it down into Jugger Beck. According to Mum, this is the point which most people find the most difficult, as it really is like a ravine, (not that I could see that it was). I must say I quite enjoyed using some different muscle groups to the previous 20 miles.

Making it to A171, I knew that there was only one last effort over the moor to go. Mum called me from near the finish, and asked if I could see her headtorch in the distance. I could! And it only looked to be a few hundred metres away! But, just like Fylingdales, and just like so many other things on this walk, it never seems to get any nearer. It was a long 2 miles. But that headtorch eventually transformed into Mum, and the Dirge was over. The total time was 16 hours and 15 minutes.

I think I should like to do the Dirge again, maybe even a winter crossing is in the offing, but for now, I’ll let my feet rest a while longer.

Yours sincerely,

Thomas Thorn


September 1st, 2018

START TIME 19:30, 27/08/2018
FINISH 13:40 28/8/2018


Stevie Clark
Stu Franklin
Sam Franklin (age 17)
Nikki Pattison (f)

It was with much trepidation that I agreed a further attempt at this challenge walk as a few years ago the Gods were against us and we had a torrid time, finally admitting defeat just past Flyingdales.

With daylight hours being less at this time of year it was decided to make a start just before dusk as the first part of the walk is easier to navigate and we might get a second wind when the sun comes up. As with most challenge walks you can prepare physically, carry the things you will need whilst keeping weight low, and have adequate food and drink. What you can’t legislate for is the weather conditions on the day.
Fortunately on this occasion we were blessed with dry conditions, some cloud covering and almost a full moon which lent some illumination during the hours of darkness. Other than a few cars at Osmotherley car park and one or two returning day hikers we saw no-one once we began the crossing until we topped up our water supplies at a farm in the morning.

It was almost torch time within minutes although the moonshine helped when reflecting off the stones of the Cleveland Way. The consensus was that walking during the night seemed to help pass the time as concentration levels had to be higher and you couldn’t see the climbs ahead! It was a beautiful sight in its own right looking out over the lights of Teesside and the ascent of the moon. Despite the tough climbs in the earlier part of the crossing we were making good progress. My Garmin registered 10.9 miles by midnight and a whopping 202 floors climbed 184 descended (a floor equates to approx. 3m – only a few floors will have been prior to the start).

Of course starting in the evening meant no opportunity to call into a café or pub so our first stop of note was on the road just before the boggy section. All four of us literally lay prostate on the road to stretch out our backs, get some food down and personally I let the air at my feet. The next section over the boggy ground was horrific a few years ago but on this occasion in the main it was ok. The posts which had fallen are still not back in place and it could still be very easy to stray off track. Signage from this point on is very poor and map reading skills I would suggest are essential. It was heartening to see the first glimpses of daylight as we arrived at Hamer.

The effects of such a trek were now starting to take their toll along with general tiredness from being awake all night (and previous day). My wife Gwen and Stu’s wife Helen who had been our emergency extraction team will have had a full nights rest and now be making their way to Osmotherley to collect one parked car and then proceed to Ravenscar. Their early morning text just said – ‘so far so good, eta at finish 12:30’. This time seemed reasonable given our position and progress to this point, however understandably we slowed and kept putting the eta back.

Conversation had all but dried up and it was just a case of one foot in front of the other. It was wonderful to see Lilla Cross and our destination but it appeared to keep getting further away! Jugger Howe ravine was a killer – the descents were tougher on our tender feet than the ascents. Arriving at the finish stone was certainly more relief than jubilation. It is only on reflection when with a beer in hand, sitting in the garden at The Ravenscar Hotel overlooking those fantastic views that a sense of achievement comes.

We will all relay tales of the crossing for years to come.

Yours, with respect


Left to right: Stevie, Sam, Stu, Nikki.

And not forgetting Gwen and Helen!