Lyke Wake crossing report Saturday 1st August 2015 West to East

Team Simon Hunter, Andrea Page, Dawn Fletcher, Eddie Fletcher, Graham Ellwood, Ian Marshall, Carol Lowery and Jim Fletcher

The omens prior to our walk were very good indeed. Not only were we to be illuminated by a rare `Blue Moon`, we were attempting the crossing on Yorkshire day of all days. There can be no finer way of celebrating this special day than by traversing the glorious north Yorkshire moors in one go.
Our intrepid party of 8 arrived at the sheepwash car park around 1.30 am and after preparations and the customary group photo`s around the Lyke Wake stone we set off at 1.50 am in a whimsical mood. The moon did not disappoint and cast an eerie soft silver hue on the surrounding moors. We made brisk progress through the woods and toiled up the first main ascent to the trigpoint at Carlton Bank. The wind grew much stronger here and the moon disappeared for long periods ensuring our head torches remained on. This made for a very interesting and unnerving descent to the road at Carlton Bank on wet rock. Our timing here was a little too quick at around 1 hr 45 mins
A steady climb took us to the view point where the first foreboding spots of rain were felt. By the Broughton plantation junction the wind and rain had whipped up and only two of our party choose to tackle the exposed high route. The lower route however was very wet and muddy so it was a close call as to which route was preferable. We regrouped at Hasty Bank road in around 3 hrs 20 mins and refuelled for the next pull up on to Urra moor.
The next long section was a challenge and although we set a good pace the repetitious hypnotic striding lead to a couple of our party almost nodding off as they walked along. We eventually arrived at the Lion Inn in just over 7 hrs where we welcomed meeting our support vehicle for the first time. After a longer rest stop than planned we set of refreshed and in reasonably good spirits as the sun made a welcome appearance.
We crossed over the moors to Fat Betty and were pleasantly surprised at the lack of bog. Fat Betty was overloaded with an array of food snacks and food but no money which was the original tradition. The next section up to Shunner Howe was also surprisingly dry with only occasional deep boggy patches and as such we bounced over it as the sun beat down on us. Over to the road at Hammer in around 9 hrs 40 mins and across the very stoney wheeldale moor. Most of us found this section quite a mental ordeal as the concentration required, with tired legs to avoid twisting an ankle or tripping, was intense.
With great relief we crossed the road and descended steeply to the welcoming wheeldale beck. It was pure bliss to soak our feet in the ice cold water and we set off again up the other side with new feet. After Simon Howe we went wrong for a while and followed the new staked path and had to detour across to the correct path down to Eller beck bridge. A laughable mistake considering I had read and noted the warnings not to follow this path on the website only the night before.
As we arrived at Eller beck in just under 13 hrs to meet our support for the second time the rain which had been threatening for a while also arrived. As we left it was becoming heavier and soon reached torrential proportions. We squelched and slid with cardboard legs over Lilla Howe (no chance of a glimpse of the finish today) and on to Jugger Howe. The consistency of the mud now was glutinous and made for some interesting gymnastics just to stay upright. This section strung our group out considerably as each retreated into their own private world of fatigue.
The downpour miraculously ceased as we reached Jugger Howe ravine and the sun made a much welcomed appearance. The descent however was greasy and tricky made more challenging with aching limbs and sluggish minds. A slumberous climb up the other side was rewarded by our first tantalizing but somewhat dispiriting view of the radio mast.
From then on our party of lemmings trudged wearily at times resembling a death march towards the unmoving mast. As we approached the last mile the clouds parted and the sun bathed us and illuminated the heather clad moors almost as reward for our indefatigability. We regrouped and walked to the radio mast in unison weary relieved but ultimately gratified with our total time of 15 hrs 50 mins
We had endured darkness, wind, spells of torrential rain, cold, heat, glutinous mud, bogs, rocky strewn tracks, energy sapping ascents, precarious descents, sleep deprivation and overcame them all with cheerfulness in the face of adversity. In the process we had experienced the beauty and magnificence of the moors in all its moods and facets. What an epic Yorkshire day.
Jim Fletcher