Crossing Thusday 23rd July – West to East

I’d heard of the Lyke Wake Walk a long time ago but didn’t have any great yearning to do it. I’ve done the Coast to Coast one and a half times, half the Pennine Way (the last half), the Wye Valley Walk (quite boring) and a few others. Every year I organise what my walking club call the ‘Long Walk’, being not quite the Marsden to Edale route. We start from Wessenden Head and mainly ignore the slabs of the Pennine Way, making a direct line across Bleaklow and Kinder, slogging up watery cloughs and crossing what bogs are left after the National Trust’s multi-million pound environmental protection work.

I’d also walked from Manchester to Mansfield, about 63 miles – the idea coming, as is usual, after several pints in a local pub. My friend John who lives in Manchester thought it would be a good idea to walk back to his parents’ house in?Mansfield. We did cheat though and stopped roughly half-way at Eyam youth hostel. The aches and pains of that walk all but put me off long distance stuff.

The seed of doing the LWW was planted last winter, again in a pub after Monday night snooker with a different friend called John. He’d done the walk in 1981 and thought I should take up the challenge as he handed me a creased copy of Bill Cowley’s the ‘Lyke Wake Walk’, 1980 edition. I read bits of it and put the idea to one side for the time being. It would definitely be my longest walk.

During the summer one or two holiday plans went wrong so the idea of doing the walk grew. No one wanted to, or was available to walk with me, so I decided to do it solo.

I thought the support party needed to be more than one, so Anne and I drove to Scarborough, met up with John who was there for cricket and drove to Osmotherley to the Golden Lion.?We went across the road to a ‘proper pub’ the Queen Catherine for Wainwright beers and then back for a late drink at the Golden Lion after all the diners had left. Up at 4.45am. Had some cornflakes and tea and set off at 5.30 am. The support party slumbered on as I didn’t want meeting until the White Lion. Lovely sunny morning. I started my GPS up, and walked at a brisk pace up the lane and then alongside the reservoir, adding 1.5 miles to the day. Distances given in the summary are from the official start stone.

I reached the car park just before 6 am and spotted the marker stone up on the hill opposite. After a quick selfie I?was soon heading for Huthwaite Green. Just before there I caught up with another group. It felt a bit presumptuous to be talking about doing the LWW at that early stage so I just said hello and went on. Up on to Live Moor and on towards Carlton Bank, jogging or trotting (I?can’t say ran) on the downhills. Lord’s Stone cafe area at 7.35 am. Had a short break to get a banana out of my bag and put a plaster on my right heel, then set off eating on the move. Up to Cringle Moor, more downhill jog-trotting, then up to the impressive Wain Stones, then down to the road at Clay Bank Top. 8.50 am, 9 miles. Then more uphill and had an hour or so overtaking about 20 spread out Coast-to Coasters who’d been staying overnight in Great Broughton. Had a quick chat with some of them.
Bloworth Crossing and then along the old railway trackbed. I remembered how tedious everyone had found this section when we did the Coast to Coast in 2000. However you can make good time here so its not all bad. I did a mixture of jogging and fast walking to make the miles pass. Eventually the White Lion was in sight above and to the left. Anne and John looking out for me as I approached. I reached there at 11 am. About 17.5 miles. I had a headache and felt a bit dizzy due to not drinking enough.

Drinks, flapjack and a change of socks made all the difference and forsaking the White Lion I set off on the road, around the head of the dale – finally reaching the straight path across Rosedale Moor. (The path is marked by white arrows and ‘LWW’ on the road)

Another satisfying landmark reached as I?crossed from the North York Moors west map to the east map. Lovely clear weather over here, I?could see Drax power station. Met up with a couple of bird watchers who were hoping to see a golden plover. They told me there was a group of women about half an hour ahead. ‘Oh I’ll have to catch them up’, I said, pleased to have another target to spur me on. Then met a mother and daughter, also birdwatching who’d turned back at the boggy area. This wasn’t too bad and I zig-zagged round the worst areas without getting wet. Just as well because this walk is a valedictory outing for my old Scarpa boots, the left one of which has an inch long and wide gash right through the leather where it bends. Amazingly the goretex lining still keeps me dry. Support party were at the road and no they hadn’t seen the other group. 24.3 miles.

A quick drink and a tunnocks bar and I?was on White Moor going up to Blue Man -’i-th’ Moss stone. Another photo, then down to the Wheeldale Road, reached at 3.10 pm, 28.3 miles into the walk. Still no sign of the other walkers.

I really felt now that the end was in sight. Only one more section before the longest and final proper moorland section of Fylingdales Moor and then Jugger Howe. Jogged down to the stepping stones across Wheeldale Beck. A stiffish climb out of the valley and across the moor. The Fylingdales triangle getting closer and closer now. The old golf balls were much better to look at. After Simon Howe I was nearly scotched by momentarily following a tempting path alongside a line of grouse butts (should have checked the Lyke Wake Walk Club web route update – the butts aren’t marked on the map) before I swung left slightly and regained the correct path. Then descent down to cross the railway line and Eller Beck, up the hill and to the lay-by, the next staging post. 4.20 pm. 31.7 miles.

My back up team had let me down and no sign of them. However at last I’d caught up with the other group having a rest. I?had a word,?wished them well and then my team arrived. The delay was my fault as I’d overestimated the distance between the Wheeldale road and here. I didn’t stop too long and set off, still in bright sun, crossed the road and followed the path alongside Eller Beck. Then beared left at a bridleway sign, up the moor, joined an MOD track for a short while, then went through the gate and thankfully off MOD land onto open access moorland. Headed up to Lilla Cross, a quick picture and then continued ever eastwards, descending gradually towards Jugger Howe. At the valley, I forced my now weary legs to jog down, a beautiful spot if you have the energy to enjoy it. Then?forced a quick pace up the other side and mercifully on to the flat, jogged fitfully and soon at the lay-by set back from the A171. 6.20 pm. 37.7 miles.

John joined me on the last stage up Stony Marl Moor. As we were talking and I had mistakenly thought this section was three miles instead of just under two, we went passed the trig point. Luckily Anne shouted at us and pointed to it. Navigation failed me at the last and most prominent landmark. Arrived 6.55 pm. 39.5 miles. A few photos and we strolled down to Raven Hall Hotel enjoying the evening light on Robin Hood’s Bay. Arrived at the hotel 7.25 pm. (42 miles from Osmotherley).

It’s a pity really that the walk no longer finishes here. I had considered the finish to be the trig point, so it felt a bit of an anticlimax to be here so we didn’t bother going in. Actually it doesn’t look that inviting for a muddy, sweaty Lyke Wake walker.

Drove to Scarborough, went to the guest house, had a shower and changed. Then tried to find an open chippie. (None open at 9pm). Thank goodness for Wetherspoons who serve until 11pm – had a wonderful chicken curry, two pints of Wold Top, reflected on a great day and then to bed.

Spare a thought for your support party – losing sleep, zig-zagging all over the place, up narrow 1 in 3 roads, finding remote laybys, worrying about meeting you on time. All the difficulty and none of the glory.

‘Solo – Ian Johnson. Support party – John Price, Anne Brimer.’

Timings :
Leave Lyke Wake Walk stone – 6.00 am
Arrive trig point – 6.55 pm
GPS measured distance – 39.5 miles

Overall time – 12 hours 55 mins.
Walking time – 10 hours 57 mins
Stopped – 1 hour 58 mins
Moving average – 3.6 mph
Overall 3.0 mph.