Blue Sky and Sunshine – Mike Hinson

Having worked all day as a landscape gardener I was looking for a good reason NOT to do the Lyke Wake the next day. Unfortunately the forecast was good, kids had gone to scout camp and we had no beer. On top of which my support ‘team’ (wife) pointed out I kept saying I wanted to do it so what was the problem? Pottering in the garden and going to the pub for lunch still seemed a better option!

Saturday morning arrived and we drove across country, me scanning the sky for black clouds or preferably twisters, none to be seen. I even tried not finding the start, but Brian Smailes book made it all too easy for the  support team to point out ‘it’s just up here’ and she was right.8.30 amon a clear sky day I stood at the Lyke Wake stone outside Osmotherely, wondering what lay ahead. Realising there was no way out except injuring myself whilst running, I set off. I was amazed to find myself enjoying it, the undulations, limestone paved route and broad leaf woods, not the boggy trudge I’d heard of, obviously after a while I started to resent the undulations and the limestone paved route, whilst the woodland left me to the moors. I also resented the fact that I seemed to be skirting the edge of the moor rather than striking out across the boggy plateau. Arriving at one then two checkpoints with still no injury I had to carry on to the Lion Inn, with the promise of strong winds to thwart my journey and possibly even getting lost, my spirits were heightened. I  was quite taken aback to find myself running through Australian bush, sandy underfoot through low scrub, large tracts of which were on fire-surely the route must be closed! Then finally a physical ailment to stop me, stomach cramps, must have been the Mr Kiplings at the checkpoint, I trudged in pain along the railway, accepting it was all over, then realising it was in fact the formidable wind that I’d been warned of on this section and probably due to beans and Lucozade and not the wrongly accused Mr Kipling. All of this was quickly alleviated when an Anaconda crossed the path in front of me (well Adder at least). I reached the Lion Inn, still no injury and now half way. The next section promised to be boggy and rocky, so perhaps I might lose a shoe or twist an ankle. I pressed on hopeful of an excuse to stop, after all I’d done half and running 20 miles in one day was enough! The bog arrived and I trudged on, quite a relief to have left the hot snake infested train line behind and at last be on the Lyke Wake I had expected. I mused how boggy this must be when it’s really wet, but not for me still blue sky, admittedly it was a bit boggy and tricky to leap over the wider bits as my legs had grown accustomed to their running shuffle gate. Various tracks lead eastward, all like post office queues seemed to be shorter than the one I was on. Amazingly the next checkpoint arrived, with me finding my support team reading a magazine and eating raspberries, whilst sunbathing, completely uncalled for sick behaviour, I grimaced. Still no bloody injuries and both my shoes! Annoyingly a refreshing breeze had kicked up to cool my last ten miles, this pleasentness was really starting to bug me, endless heather, black grouse, skylarks and curlews this is the Lyke Wake , it’s s’posed to be grim. I pressed on, leaving magazines and raspberries for others. Skirting the military base and arriving at Ulla cross I could see the finish, I could still see it much later, but it didn’t seem any closer! Finally I came to the last road crossing, a quick drink and a chat with a man who’d done the ‘double’ twenty years ago and I sprang across the road along the final section. The elements carried on their patronising kindness and I finally stepped into a bog that almost took my shoe off! Then I crested that final brow, lamenting if I’d gone the other way it’d be downhill to the finish, then there it was the Lyke Wake stone dwarfed by the radio mast, insignificant little thing that is loved by so many who finally arrive. Support crew excelled at this point apparently we had 1 hour to get to the campsite, get the tent up, shower and order food at the pub What a journey. Despite my reluctance it had been a great journey. Not the one I had expected, but I suspect that’s always the case.

Mike Hinson,Sedberg,Cumbria

April 2010.