Bromley Volunteer Police (Met) Cadets. 6th August 2015.

At 3.30 am, on Thursday 6th August a group of Bromley Volunteer Police (Met) Cadets and their leaders, huddled round a small granite stone trying to make out the words ‘Lyke Wake Walk’ on it in the gloomy darkness. Mutterings of “What the hell are we doing this for?” and “It’s too early” could be heard from the group, which wasn’t surprising as the majority of them were teenagers.

The stone was of course in Osmotherley and this was the start of the 42 mile trek across the North Yorkshire Moors.

Cadets Chris, Alice, Poppy, Joe, James, Katy and Daisy had all volunteered to attempt the crazy challenge offered to them by their equally crazy adult leaders Neill, Beverley, Gareth, Dean and Alex. All of them determined to cross the finish line in Ravenscar in less than the required 24 hours. For one adult leader, Gareth, completing this monstrous task alone wasn’t enough. Being an ex army wanted to do it carrying a full military pack!

We set off a good pace, but it was less than 2 hours in when we noticed our first problem. Daisy, one of our cadets, was lagging behind and struggling. A short investigation discovered the reason why fairly quickly. She was carrying about 8 litres of water in her pack!!! Having relieved her of some of the burden, she transformed from slowest to fastest in the group in the blink of an eye.

The next few hours went well. Teenagers being what they are, and not being able to leave the comfort of their phones behind, brought music with them. Cadet Joe, and James, kept the groups spirits up with singalongs and ‘Hot Fuzz’ impressions.

All was going well until we reached checkpoint two. Here we were to meet our support team of which there was no sign. As it turned out, they were still back at the hostel tucking into a hearty breakfast. They tried to blame the traffic for setting us behind by 45 mins, but we all know the truth! That said, there were no more hiccups and we met them at every checkpoint on time thereafter.

The way forward was good and we made good progress, if not a little tedious along the disused railway track which seemed to stretch on forever across Farndale Moor. But eventually a physically, as well as mentally, tired group stopped for lunch in the car park of the Lion at Blakey Ridge.

We were feeling good and pleased with our progress so far. There had been no injuries or blisters and the creaking of the leaders knees were drowned out by the youngster’s music.

But then came the BOG! We were fortunate that it had been fairly dry in the preceding weeks and so it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as it could have been. But walking in squelchy mud on very tired limbs is always hard, especially as it went on for over 8 miles. Katy, who carried a pre-hike injury, refused to accept help and was determined not to quit, trudged on regardless.

It was great to see the Fylingdale RAF radar in the distance, even if it never did seem to get any closer as we trudged across Wheeldale moor and on to High Moor. Glimpses of the radio mast, our final destination, lifted spirits. Nobody dared to mention that we still had many miles still to go to reach it.
As we dropped down into Jugger Howe Beck, it seemed like a good idea at the time to kick of the boots and soak the toes in the stream. It was blissfully good for a while, until we realised that the sun was setting and it was prime time for the midge community to come out for dinner. Boots were hurriedly put on and the next hour was spent frantically waving hands about in front of faces to swipe the little blighters away.

By now we were taking on casualties. Joe, James, and Chris were walking like extras in the Michael Jackson Thriller video. Beverley and Poppy were jogging backwards and forwards looking after them all, Gareth was stumbling forwards mumbling incoherently about the lights flashing in front of his eyes (Poppy was trying to light the path in front of him with a torch so he didn’t trip), Dean was walking at a snails pace with his head down, Alex’s knees had been bad from the off and he took up the role of ‘Increasingly Tail End Charlie’. Whilst Andy, Alice and Daisy (the water carrier) now took the lead and plodded onwards.

At the final checkpoint, it was suggested by the support crew that ‘because we only had 2 km left, we had done enough to say we’d completed it’. This was unanimously refused, even though the group were dead on their feet. We pushed on towards where the radio mast was, although it was now dark and it wasn’t lit. The final 2000 mts was paced out in 100 mt intervals and counted down. So that we reached the tower in a final time of 19 and a half hours.

Totally exhausted, we fell into the minibus in silence. It was dark and we couldn’t see the finishing stone and was told by Andy that, according to the map, it was another 200mts further on. It was only the following morning when we returned for a group photo that we discovered the real reason why we couldn’t find it. The previous evening the minibus had parked in front of it!!!