Crossing Report (60th Anniversary Effort) — Dirger Evans

1st/2nd October 2015
It is one on those moments that changes your life. In August 1971 I stood in very thick pre-dawn mist next to the trig point on Scarth Wood Moor and made a final mental note: OS N.Y.Moors 1” map – check; Silva compass – check; rucksack with flask of milky coffee, cheese sarnies & chocolate –check; and finally, my newest physical possession – a copy of Bill Cowley’s Lyke Wake Walk book acquired two weeks previously with the proceeds of my first ever pay packet from my first ever summer job. Boots tied & cagoule fastened, I noted the time to the minute & set off into the early morning gloom. So began my first dirging experience and 13 hours later I was sitting in the Pollard Café in Ravenscar with much blistered feet & heels, as I sipped tea & lemonade, deeply content as a newly ‘engloomed’ Dirger, teenage ambition well satisfied (but with the distinct feeling that I could get across a lot quicker; I did my 2nd Crossing a week later).

Forty four years later I was reminded by the BBC that 2015 is the 60th Anniversary year for the Lyke Wake Walk, as I was asked to act as intermediary between them, the New Lyke Wake Club & the wider dirging community, so they could record their Ramblings programme on the LWW. This prompted an additional thought that I wanted to do something personally to acknowledge the 60th Anniversary & having recently acquired a copy of the 1st edition of Bill Cowley’s book, I decided to replicate the original Walk. The 1st thing I noted from the account of the original Crossing is that at various points the party split – so a single route was not followed(!) and secondly, the 14 apprentice dirgers had bivouacked at Hamer half way through their Crossing. My plan was to follow as closely as possible Bill Cowley’s route commencing on the same day & time , noon on 1st October. Bivouac? – after deliberation I decided that in place of an 8 hour sojourn at Hamer I would have a meal with my support at the Lion Inn and then have snooze at Simon Howe with an intended finishing time of 11am (23 hours total) as per the original. The Chief Dirger records a time of 13 hrs walking for the 1st dirge in 1955 (13 ½ hrs in an alternative account) which seems quite a good pace given that in 1955 a substantial portion of the Walk, probably over half, was over trackless moorland.

So on October 1st 2015, I strolled up to the Trig Point on Scarth Wood Moor half expecting to find others intending to depart at noon as per the original Crossing. Quite a few Coast-to-Coasters went by as I checked my gear, took photos & waited for the appointed departure time but to my surprise no other Dirgers/Witches appeared (a bit of a relief in some ways, I have always preferred to dirge alone, particularly in more recent times, so I can ‘nurse’ my middle-aged infirmities in a manner that suits me). I took in the view that was denied me on my 1st Crossing and to the south-east on Whorlton & Snilesworth Moors saw the evidence that confirmed the date; white & grey smoke billowed into the blue autumn sky on this the first day of the new heather burning season. I was reminded that the 1st Crossing party had considered going that way around the head of Scugdale but shooting parties were to be in that area on the 1955 start date and so it was discounted as a possibility.

Set off at noon along the now paved highway of the Cleveland Way. It is surprising to note Bill Cowley recording that in the ‘early days’ the route from Scarth Nick across Scugdale was one of the hardest bits of the LWW to navigate. At that time Scugdale Beck was crossed by way of a fallen tree and Dirgers of an earlier vintage than me, tell of taking an informal route directly across Scugdale to Huthwaite. However, I decided to avoid trespassing and followed the modern path to the foot of Live Moor. Having done umpteen crossings over the years I wouldn’t expect to be covering new ground on any LWW but the first party took the Miners’ Path around the face of Carlton Moor so I went in search of this (new to me) route which is indistinct along the uphill side of the intake wall but becomes clear once the plantation is left behind. From the ‘col’ between Carlton & Cringle Moor the original party split with some going via Chop Gate but I continued around the northern faces of Cringle & Cold Moors as did Bill Cowley’s group. BC’s account is not clear on whether he ascended Hasty Bank or took the lower track. But noting that BC omitted to mention skirting Hasty Bank when he described using Miners’ Track, I concluded he had gone over the summit & so I struck up hill for the Wainstones and arrived at Hagg Gate (Clay Bank Top) in 2 ¾ hrs (allow 20mins in that for photography). I was always impressed at BC’s 2 ½ hrs time for this section which would still be a very respectable time for many a 21st Century walker and must have represented a very good pace in 1955 when the paths were unpaved and in places overgrown & indistinct. Passed more Coast-to-Coasters & Cleveland-Wayers on Urra Moor and hit the railway to find quite a bit of heather burning in progress on the adjacent moorland but fortunately the wind was carrying the smoke south-eastward and not across what is almost always the fastest section of the Walk. As always, said a silent prayer of thanks for the railway particularly as BC’s original Dalesman suggestion for the route was to go over Stony Ridge to the north of the track bed (I’ve been over there some years ago and it’s as rough & wet as Rosedale or Wheeldale Moors). After the ‘pile of lime’ struck across South Flat Howe and met up with my support in the early evening light at Ralph’s Cross (again mirroring the original). My support whisked me off to the Lion Inn for a meal and then unceremoniously dumped me back next to Young Ralph as the moon was rising. Took a fancy to some flapjack ‘cached’ on top of Fat Betty so left a chocolate bar in its place. Quite squidgy over Rosedale Moor and frost was starting to form in the cool, stiff westerly breeze.

Didn’t stop at Hamer where BC & friends had bivouacked and pressed on to Wheeldale Moor. Reading the 1st edition of LWW it is unclear on the route taken hereabouts as BC says the best option is to take a southern route past the Pinkney Shooting Box but I concluded that the 1st Party followed the more northerly (current) route past Blue-Man-i’-th’-Moss as BC describes ‘a standing stone our guide to the way’ (Blue Man?) and ‘we felt rather than saw the drop to Wheeldale Gill to our left’ (indicating a route close to the edge of the Gill).

Reaching Simon Howe I decided not to attempt to sleep, there was frost on the ground and a stiff cold breeze; snoozing wasn’t going to happen. The ‘main party’ on the original Crossing took the current route from the stepping stones over Simon Howe, crossing the Railway at Fen Bogs and following Ellerbeck /Little Ellerbeck to Lilla Howe. However it appears that some of the group may have gone to the north via Goathland. Bill Cowley himself went more southerly from Simon Howe over the ‘nose’ of Crag Stone Rigg, crossing the railway & bog at Fen Houses and then picked up the old Salt Road across Tom Cross Rigg and Snod Hill to Lilla Howe where he met up again with the ‘Main Party’. At that time the area was part of an Army firing range (you needed an MoD permit to cross) and Bill Cowley considered this southern deviation to be safer; at this time the Early Warning Station was still a figment of some military imagination. (Arthur Puckrin has described there being lots of shells & mortar rounds on the surface hereabouts during early years of the Walk.) My original plan had been to follow BC but it had been daylight by the time he got to the railway. It was still dark as I descended from Simon Howe and, despite the moon, swirls & drapes of mist were obscuring the ground & filling Newtondale. I felt confident that I could navigate across the bogs to Fen Houses (I’ve been that way before) but it was pitch black in the mist and I didn’t fancy getting up close & personal an MoD police Alsatian in the pitch dark if I got off the permissive path across the EWS site. So I stuck to the Classic Route to Lilla Howe where I was passed by a Landrover (MoD?, poachers?, who knows?). Again too cold to stop so pressed on across Fylingdales Moor and descended into JH ravine, out of the wind for the first time since Rosedale Head. If I continued on, I would probably be in Ravenscar before it got light with a long wait for my lift so decided to rest here.

After 2 hours trying to sleep on the bridge over Jugger Howe Beck (the only dry spot thereabouts!), I gave in and decided to make for Ravenscar. BC says they crossed the Beck where it turns east (pretty much where the current day bridge is located) and they kept well south of Jugger Howe to avoid military activities which included the use of mortars and other live ammunition which made proximity dangerous. There’s lack of detail in the account, so I followed the north-eastern side of the ravine to where the Helwath Beck joins and then followed this northwards to Helwath Bridge. Across Pye Howe Rigg on a soggy indistinct path to start but eventually attained the old windmill and strolled lazily down the road into Ravenscar with fantastic early morning views across a sunny Robin Hood’s Bay as mist rolled off Stoupe Brow and cascaded on to the beach, then onwards to the Raven Hall Hotel car park to wait for my lift.

So there it is, not exactly Bill Cowley’s route, but near enough. Time (start to finish): 20hrs. Walking time: 13 ½ hrs.
Forty four years ago the Lyke Wake Walk changed my life. With grateful thanks to: Bill Cowley; Joyce Allen; Stella Boaden; Bill Dell; John Grayson; Dennis Kirby; David Laughton; Tony Lea; Brian Ovenden; David Pearson; Ann Pendegrass; John Poulter; Malcolm Walker; Ian Watters.

Dirger Ian Evans
Finally – Thanks to Thomas & his beat up old Ford Escort for support.


MY LIKE WAKE WALK – and the “The Batty Way”

The original blog ( below ) came with some wonderful pictures – sadly, we our Website is not capable of showing these here as this page is limited to text only, but the full blog can be viewed on:


Hello there.
Like many I had my eye on the Lyke Wake Walk for some time and found it fabulously appealing – it just had to be done!
The question though for many might be How to do it – as it is not a circular walk and so presents a transport logistics problem to solve!

“The Batty Way”
From studying the maps, as we do, I could see the nearest train station to the usual start of the walk is Battersby Junction – so from there I hatched my plan!
Leave my car at the car park in Osmotherley, then do the Lyke Wake walk, staying at Boggle Hole YHA at the end of the walk, close to Robin Hoods Bay.
Walk from Boggle Hole along the coast to Whitby, around 8 miles or so.
Catch the train from Whitby to Battersby Junction
Walk “The Batty Way” (yep I made it up) from Battersby Junction to Osmotherley.
The Batty Way re-joins the Like Wake Walk , and totals around 12 miles or so from the station to Osmotherley.
Here is a link to my GPS recording of me walking The Batty Way:
You can download the GPX file from the Menu link ‘Export to GPX’ from the above link.

How did it go in reality?
Like all great plans – there is no floor, it’s perfect, a great idea and nothing can go wrong. Right?
Well it did go pretty well – but read on if want to take it The Batty Way and learn from my mistakes!

Day 1
Friday 11th September 2015

3:00 AM
I started at 3 AM in the morning, leaving the warmth of my car at the car park at the top of the Cod Beck Reservoir.

3:19 AM
I am in the wood – its dark – very, very dark with no moon.
I have a friend keeping an eye on my Buddy Beacon GPS – but I am sure she isn’t awake right now.
In the woods I find an encouraging confirmation I am in the right place:

4:30 AM
It still dark! I find some unusual roman looking posts.
This one has a useful A symbol. Is this the Alphabet trail?

4:50 AM
It’s still dark and now a bit chilly up on Carlton Moor.
To me these look like Roman and modern trig versions of a significant spot.
Forgive me for not hanging around up here to find out, mind you if I met someone up here at this time of night I would be way spooky.

5:00 AM
Solo walking in the dark is not recommended if you don’t have a good deal of experience.
Even with my long walking history I was not prepared to see a reference to my namesake Richard and rather chilling words – or so it seemed at the time!
5:42 AM
Finally there is a faint blue to the sky – its getting light !
Thank goodness
6:03 AM
Dawn at Kirkby Bank
It is such a beautiful dawn too, with lazy pockets of cloud clinging to the hill sides – not willing to rise so early.
About this point I heard a voice behind me ‘Good morning’ !
After immediately filling my pants I turned around to meet a guy who had been wild camping on his Coast-to-Coast adventure. I thought how he was actually quite low in spirits and weary – but after some long chatting and walking together for a couple of miles, he was back on form and laughing allot ?

I find myself at the awesome Wain Stones.
The light was still low – so my pic is a bit camera shakey.
I walked the first half of the Coast-to-Coast earlier this year and remember reading A.Wainright’s fond description of the Wain Stones – I liked them too – once I found my way through them!
7:20 AM
Things are going well, I am warm, feeling fit and made some good progress.
The only thing that bothers me are all these death march symbols !
One can only actually do this walk to appreciate the beauty.

10:30 AM
It feels pretty remote now – high up on Blakey Moor – I still have only met one other person on my journey.

10:48 AM
Reached the Lion Inn – the only hint of Civilisation in an ocean of moorland.

And here I leave the Coast-to-coast path – and onto the real Lyke Wake business end of the walk.
This giant stone felt like a warning symbol – go back! danger ahead!
12:44 Noon-ish
Sure enough I enter the Devils very own bog
To be fair though I think I had it easy, after a spell of reasonably dry weather.

1:30 PM
The alphabet game continues – but I have missed some – unless it is Vowels only !

Trucking along nicely – the sun is shining and I am through the boggy hell and flying toward to Flying dales – I can see the Flying Dales dish in the very very far distance – if I quint ! can you spot it?

3:33 PM
Arrive at a nice little vale – Wheeldale Beck.
Blue sky and happy I am !
4:45 PM
Reached Flydales – there is some fuss about ‘Bye’ laws – but there is no mention of ‘Hello Laws’ so I will call in for a cup of tea 😉

5:25 PM
Reached Lila Cross – dating AD626 and the earliest known Christian monument in the north of England.
About this time I met a guy out running. He stopped to chat to me – he was about 60 years old and his name was Stuart. He told me he regularly runs the Lyke Wake Walk – so you might meet him too. I hope I meet Stuart again one day. I wish I had asked to take pics of the people I met on the way.
7 PM
The final very long mile – you can just see the radio mast in very far distance of you let your eye follow the path.

7:20 PM
The final trig pint marking the end of the Lyke Walk
Just another 3 miles to Boggle Hole YHA!

Saturday 12th September 2015
8:45 AM
The tide is out so I decide to walk along the beach from Boggle Hole to Robin Hood’s Bay, about 3/4 of a mile. The weather is quite grey today, but still it seems a very beautiful place to me!

9:26 AM
After buying 4 bars of Cherry Bakewell Flapjack (I love it!) from the little shop I walk up through the village and back onto the coast path, for a final view of Robin Hood’s Bay.
This year I walked the first half of Wainwright’s Coast 2 Coast with my youngsters Molly and Kirk and my girlfriend Debbie. I think how wonderful it will be to visit this very spot again at the end of the Coast 2 Coast route next spring or summer 2016.
Looking over the cliff edge – it’s a long way down!
There was some pretty serious footpath erosion at the time.

10:30 AM
I am taking it easy this morning – my limbs ache some after yesterday – but still I only have 21 miles to do, so that seems OK – or at least that’s what I thought at the time ..

Arrive at the caravan park at Saltwick Nab; just a few people about, most staying in their caravans with a newspaper and cups of tea – hmm I could do with a cuppa!

11:57 AM
I had forgotten about the dark theme of yesterday’s Lyke Wake Walk – until now – but here we go again – it’s Dracula town – hello Whitby!

I thought the best bet would be to check out the train times first to Battersby Junction – so first call Whitby railway station.
Bad News!
I have just missed the mid-day train and the next train is not until 4PM. That’s a four hour wait neatly. That’s not good at all, that means I won’t be at Battersby until 5PM with another 13 miles to walk – bother!
Hopefully you will have read this and learn from my mistake of not checking the train times.
Ah well – now for best thing to do in Whitby – eat fish and chips!!
This is my favourite cafe – right on the end of the promenade The Battery Parade Cafe
2:00 PM
Now I am lovely and warm after a very relaxing time at the Battery Cafe .. notice the Batty theme continues !
It just so happens that today is the Pirate Festival in Whitby – so using up the extra time here is no problem !
Pirates everywhere!

The weather turns bad for a spell but that didn’t stop this fabulous pirate lady from dancing through a torrential thunderstorm.
I better head for the train!
I wish this was my train!
This is it – ah well it’s colourful at least 🙂

5:10 PM
Off the train and finally onto The Batty Way
5:27 PM
Church at Ingleby Greenhow. Looking toward the Cleveland Way now – it runs along the edge of the hills ahead of me – Clay Bank and White Hill

6:16 PM
And here we are – back on the Lyke Wake Walk heading back toward Osmotherly – but it’s a good 10 miles from here.

6:40 PM
The evening views from Whitehill are really superb. This really is an awesome walk.

7:10 PM
And here at the fabulous Wainstones the sun finally sets.
I spend a while at Wainstones contemplating life. It is so beautiful here, and appears to be just as I imagine the planet Mars.

10:30 PM
It takes me another three hours to finish the walk – the last two hours being in the dark – but the stars were superb and the Esk Valley was lit up like a Christmas tree.

I really loved the Lyke Wake Walk and the Batty Way.



The Lyke Wake Walk Saturday 4th July 2015

Kier London Team:
John Gribbin and Son, Ryan McCann, John O’Reilly, Wayne Parson, Allison Pitcher, Jill Waller, Matt Skirving, John Skirving
Kier London Support Team:
Shirene Jarvis (plus press ganged Reuben), Fiona Wall, Dave Parsons
As a new starter to Kier London late last year I had the brain wave whilst recovering from the usual Christmas Lunch excesses to attempt a long distance charity walk with my new Kier colleagues. The required practice walking would help to reverse my expanding waist line and I needed to prove to myself that I had it in me to complete the walk for a second time after a layoff of over 45 years of over 40 miles. Volunteers to join the Lyke Wake Walk Club stepped forward in mass in the New Year. The brave band of brothers (and a couple of sisters) that remained following the practice walks set off on Friday ready to conquer the North Yorkshire Moors. Our 17 seat bus transport had been freely provided by Kier Fleet and served us very well the whole weekend.
We picked Shirene’s son Reuben up on route and he was press ganged into the support team for the weekend adventure. (A late Friday afternoon ‘Dental Appointment’ excused him from lessons.)
Our Friday evening was spent at the Blue Boar Hotel 30 minutes from the walk start. It was packed with locals spending all that disposable income that we hear about being generated by the North/South divide. We looked on over our evening meal as a mass of young 13 (going on 18) year old girls celebrated someone’s birthday wearing the infamous ‘Newcastle Night out Uniform’ of not a lot. How do they stay warm up North?
No need for an alarm call at 4.00am as the thunder and lightning and horizontal downpour got us all out of bed ready for the short drive to the start of the walk at Osmotherley. Getting water proofs on whilst swinging round the country roads was our first challenge.
Miraculously the rain stopped as we stepped from the bus and following a few nervous pre start team photographs we started our main challenge at 5:30 am Saturday. 40 plus miles to be completed in less than 24 hours!
Our support team went on ahead to the first pit stop rendezvous. The highly organised team had 5 stops planned over the course for us and a lunch stop after the first 18 miles. Their planning and support kept us focused on each section of the walk and made the whole distance manageable in relatively short sections averaging 8 miles.
The first half of the walk follows the Cleveland Way Walk and is well defined on clear footpaths. Just as well because we couldn’t see much further than a few meters as the rain had given way to low mist and cloud blowing horizontal at near hurricane force as the terrain took us high on the exposed Yorkshire hillside. This part of the walk usually provides spectacular views from high escarpments over the country side but all that was on offer this day was the view of the slow trudge of the person ahead in the mist.
Our fist pit stop at Shirene’s Road Side Cafe wasn’t quite up to Formula 1 standards for speed but was heaven sent and allowed all to top up on fuel in the form of a hot drink and energy bars etc. Following a chance for a first sock change and check on the feet we were pushed on our way by the support team. They rushed headstrong overland towards the lunch time pub, The Lion located in the middle of nowhere, whilst we had the more scenic route of 10miles over the hills. Have I mentioned that both Fiona and Dave appeared to be trying to outdo each other on the time trial sections of the drive?
I should say at this point that the hills are not small!
This first half of the walk contained 3 enormous ascents and descents over very tough ground. The last ‘hill’ involved a section of hard rock scaling that could never be described as part of a walk.
The support team almost got lost in the mist.
They only found the pub by following the smell of chips coming through the gloom. The pub was not visible from the car park and the support team started to worry at this stage that we may have to abandon the rest of the walk as it has no distinct route to follow over the eastern moors. Fortunately they couldn’t make contact with the walkers as Ryan had forgotten to pack the team radios. So much for planning and safety.
Not to worry though as the walkers arrived at the pub in full sunshine. Mist had cleared for the last couple of miles and we had enjoyed a relatively easy section of the walk along a disused railway line courtesy of Mr Beecham.
The pub meal was enormous. Support team managed to eat several lambs between them and I shared a whole cow with my son in a beef pie. Lasagne was the favourite with members of the team looking for a ‘carb boost’.
We had not quite reached half way, we were two hours behind schedule and blisters had started to burn into feet.
After an extended pit stop the whole team set off joined by John G’s son …..who was keen to lend support with renewed purpose into the heat of the afternoon sunshine for the longest leg of the walk, even longer than we first expected as we discovered that the two maps we were using had a 1.5 mile gap between them. Not a large distance but at this stage in the walk every step is starting to have a significant impact upon the body and mind.
During this half of the walk the map reading skills of John O and Wayne P became crucial to our survival. Without their skills we could still be wandering around the moors. Wayne’s impromptu CPD session on Magnetic North and compass reading should be standard training for all walkers.
Injuries started during this section. Allison unfortunately twisted her good knee slipping down the side of a large tuft of grass and made it worse getting down the long slope to the next pit stop. One of our keenest walkers she was devastated at having to stop. To go on would have been a serious risk to permanent ligament damage and it was not an easy decision for her to make.
At this stop it also became apparent that a number of the team had serious damage to their feet. Changes of socks were helping but the pain levels that members were hiding from each other were heroic. Matt was in danger of stripping a whole layer of skin from his feet – he had only completed one short practice walk of 4 miles a couple of weeks earlier.
The next section was arguably one of the most difficult. It was starting to get dark, we had to cross very wet ground with no defined route and we had been walking for over 30 miles.
As darkness fell we pushed on at the best speed we could manage to cross the wettest section of the walk underfoot with head lights attached marking our way it was impossible to judge if the ground ahead was dry, slightly wet or deep water! Many a splash was heard from those towards the rear of the group as the vanguard pushed forward.
Although we had a full moon the night was very dark and disorientating. Somehow we managed to reach the final pit stop as planned with the lights of the team bus waiting in a roadside car park just 3 miles from our destination at Ravenscar on the East coast.
The stop was interrupted by a visit from the local police asking what on earth a group of people were doing in a car park close to midnight in various stages of undress and changing clothes in the shine of the headlights. I was a distance off changing my underwear and socks but I think I overheard him say that they had been trouble recently with a late night ‘jogging’ group or something similar using the area late at night. He looked slightly disappointed as he left.
Blisters and back pain at this point got the better of Gill and after an heroic last few miles in the dark decided to not tempt fate further and joined the support team for the last section. Even John G veteran marathon runner had to have surgery on his blisters at this point.
The final stage was short but still in the dark and over a very hard road surface down into Ravenscar.
Tradition states that the finish is at the bar within the Ravenscar Hotel. At 2:15 am the hotel is closed so we touch the hotel door and retired to the car park for the final meet up of the support team. Sandwiches and hot soup revived us as we lay on the ground too tired to do anything more than reflect on the day.
We managed to climb more than 5,000 feet, burn thousands of calories, take well over 130,000 steps in the 41.9 miles of walking and we smashed the time limit by helping each other to a time of 21 hours 15 mins. More than all of this we gelled into a real team that achieved more than we could probably accomplish as individuals. I know that I would not have completed the walk without the help of my fellow walkers and the support team. Thanks to them all from a tired but satisfied walker.
This coming Christmas I will probably give up on the idea of bright ideas for the New Year and just fall into a deep sleep as Her Majesty fades away after lunch.
We have received tremendous support in sponsorship towards the Macmillan Cancer Support to date totalling over £4.5k. The sponsorship site will remain open for a few more days and it would be fantastic to raise the total to over the £5k mark. Remember to tick the gift aid box if you are a tax payer as this boosts your contribution by 20% for free.

If you would like to make a contribution to a good cause please give to Macmillan Cancer Support at the following site :

Many thanks.

John Skirving