( My ) First Crossing of the Lyke Wake walk


I would like to report my first Lyke Wake Walk crossing.

I completed the walk on December 29th 2015. I chose to do the walk in December due to the mild temperatures we were experiencing, although I knew that it would be wet underfoot. It was also the only opportunity I’d have before the summer to have a week off work for recovery afterwards!

My father did the walk twice, as he often reminds me, in either the late 50’s or early 60’s when the starting point was in Osmotherley village and the end point in Ravenscar village. Funnily enough he doesn’t mention his first attempt which he abandoned after getting lost! He was in his late teens when he first attempted the walk whereas I am 48, so he did have a few years on me.

I did the walk with my two five year old Rottweiler dogs, Cesar and Jasmine. I was unsupported during the walk (carrying food and supplies with me). I was in regular contact with my wife by text message, with surprisingly good reception throughout most of the walk (although I did have two phones on different networks just in case).

My wife dropped me at the starting point near Cod Beck late on Monday evening 28th December. At the stroke of midnight I started walking. The conditions were very good. The temperature was ideal for me, and the underfoot conditions really good for the first few hours. We stopped at Lordstones for drinks (and sausages for the dogs) at 2:30am for around 20 minutes. Thereafter the ground conditions worsened with the lower path to Clay Bank being extremely muddy and making for really slow progress.

We crossed the road at Clay bank at around 5am and head up to Urra Moor. At the top we stopped for a few minutes to refuel. It was slightly windy but the ground conditions were good again. We made Bloworth Crossing at 6am, and arrived at the Lion Inn at Blakey Ridge at 8am.

We stopped here again for 15-20 minutes to once again feed the hungry dogs! The walk along the road past Fat Betty (around 9am) felt like it was the last dry ground we walked on for some time. We headed off the road past the Fryup turning and back on to the Moors. The going once again became tough with a great deal of standing water as expected. Around 10:15am another (younger) walker passed me and made me realise just how slow I was going!

The journey across to Shunner Howe was very wet, although the scenery was enjoyable! Crossing the road at Hamer we picked up the path immediately and carried on towards Blue Man-I’-th’-Moss and on across Wheeldale Moor. The going here was still wet underfoot, but the water hid the rocky path rather than the bogs we’d encountered previously.

Crossing Wheeldale Road, I was faced with a stile and 17stone combined of Rottweiler to lift over! I considered a diversion, but wanted to stick to the route, so in unceremonious fashion, I managed to lift them over once – one at a time!

After carefully coming down the steep hill, we crossed the stepping stones over Wheeldale Beck and made our way up towards Simon Howe. Once again, the ground was extremely wet and tough going.

We watched the steam train go by on the NY Moors line at 3:40pm, and stopped thereafter for a 20 min break before crossing the road at Eller Beck Bridge. We went through the gate at Eller Beck just after 4pm and once again found the going quite heavy. We took the (supposedly) dryer route, to find the old military road, but by the time we arrived at Lilla Cross, we were once again back in complete darkness. We rested again as by this time the dogs were napping at every opportunity.

We set off just after 5:15pm from Lilla Cross with heavy conditions underfoot once again, and were careful not to miss the correct path on the High Moor. It was around 6:35pm by the time we arrived at Jugger Howe. Tired legs and complete darkness meant we had to be very careful descending this.

Mistakenly trying to go left after the bridge rather than right wasted 15 minutes and helped me find another marshy bit of land (I went in to above my knees!), but once we found the steps up, we ascended surprisingly quickly. As we approached the Whitby – Scarborough road, another challenge re-appeared, this time it was another stile to carry the dogs over. Thankfully the dogs had harnesses on which made lifting them somewhat easier, although certainly not graceful!

As I approached the end of the walk just before 8pm, the tiredness I felt was outweighed by the sense of achievement. I felt annoyed that I hadn’t been able to finish the walk in daylight and experience the views at the end, but I will ensure my next walk allows this! I have previously walked most of the stages separately, including some at night, but wanted to leave the last part from Eller Beck so that I experienced it for the first time as I was completing the whole walk for the first time – I guess I’ll just have to do it again.

The drive home to Stockton was good, but an hour later when trying to get out of the car, my legs were refusing to cooperate! A day or two later I felt fine and having returned to work and spoken to colleagues, the sense of achievement keeps coming back. The best part is that the dogs seem to have forgiven me, although all they want to eat now is sausages and chunks of corned beef.

Paul Walsh

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10:00 Abandoned at Cod Beck I struck out past the marker the cattle grid
Saw the stone tribute to Bill Cowley in Clain Wood, a fitting stone-up, up and away to Scarth woods there to find a stout lady who thought I was her husband; I was coming to her from behind. Needless to say I did not stop running until I reached tribute to a remarkable man. Climbing through up the woods towards Knolls End was not too pleasant, painful memories of a time when I did not have walking poles. Ouch ouch ouch!!.
Met man and dog between cairn 315 and Gold Hill, dog spoke, man did not-swivel heads for you!
Lord Stones is a real shock horror; how did all that get through Moors planning department? And who needs a posh, all singing toilet block; what ever happened to mother nature?
First stop for solid refreshments (platypus already hit several times for liquid sustenance!) was just before the gate on Carr Ridge; nice bench, where I disrobed to “air the fairing.” Fifteen minutes then onwards and upwards.
Blazed along railway track careful to avoid some of the recent limestone repairs. Struggled through smoke from widespread moorland burning. Came off railway track and headed up onto Flat Howe (sorry Gerry I am old school with no financial interests in the Lion Inn). The erosion is still evident here, I remember it from yore
I was stunned crossing West Gill Head, my memories were of a “straight as a die trail” to Shunner Howe, I wasn’t prepared for head height grasses and having to negotiate to one side of the original trail (no matter, the ‘ell are we tribe did not get me!)
White Moor and Wheeldale Moor became a blur as my pace increased. With the sun dipping behind I was anxious to get as far across Wheeldale as possible; needless to say I reached Wheeldale road just as light was fading. Time to put shorts away and get into longs plus jacket; in addition to fading light the temperature was dropping fast.
Across the Roman road and down into the beck, by now darkness had descended. Up the other side and, feeling weary, made my way across to Ellerbeck.
Last sips of my half gallon platypus and handful of sultanas before tackling Little Ellerbeck et al. This is still the part of the walk I do not look forward to but needs must. I kept to the right hand side and, with mist decreasing visibility, made my way to the line of trees beside what remains of the hard core track. Looking back all was covered in mist, so peaceful and, when the moon rose, all was so serene and beautiful. Reaching Lilla Cross I curled up and slept for a while before the cold permeated my jacket.
Now on familiar ground I made my way downwards towards Jugger, oh so beautiful Jugger; you are so right, by now I am out of my skull Ha Ha!
I reached the mast around 0145 and texted home that I was finished. Curling up in my space blanket sleep called which was just as well because it was after 3am before my wife arrived, nearly running me over
Footnote: A wonderful crossing, for once from west to east. I look forward to the onset of winter when, hopefully there will be another to go with a paper before the next wake