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