I’d like to report a successful first time crossing on 5 April…………….

Being an unsupported crossing I left my car at Ravenscar for the night and after a short walk across Stony Marl Moor took three different buses (Flask Inn – Guisborough – Stokesley – Osmotherley) then killed time at YHA Osmotherley before my early start.

Despite arriving at the starting point at 5.10am I felt ready for the challenge ahead. I was already making good time as it had only taken 20 minutes to walk from the hostel.

The first issue came when joining the Cleveland Way as it entered Clain Wood. The route of the is clearly not along the track marked on the OS map, but a few meters down the road the path became apparent (not easy to spot in the dark). Now I knew I’d got it easy navigationally for a while, having walked the Cleveland Way before I know it’s pretty hard to go wrong. By the time I leave the wood it’s starting to get light, the birds are singing, and the lovely track is easy to follow and walk on. My spirits were very high!

Quick stop at Lordstones to use the facilities, at just gone 7am there’s no one else around at all. It’s not until passing Clay Bank car park I see other people for the first time in the day, who were quite perplexed as to why I’m walking to Ravenscar (they were just starting out and going to Glaisdale). This was quickly followed by another first for the day. Rain. Fortunately the bench near the top of the Carr Ridge provided somewhere sensible for me to attempt putting on waterproof trousers over size 13 boots. Whilst I saw plenty of rain during the day, I only saw another 2 walkers.

Quite a pleasant walk to Bloworth Crossing, which appeared much quicker than when I’d walked this way previously. Sadly now I left the security of the Cleveland Way behind and ventured off into the great unknown. But it was easy enough to follow a disused railway along a gentle gradient as it followed the contours around Farndale and Blakey Moor. Some nice views in parts, and plenty of time to reflect on the effort put into making all those embankments.

Reaching at Lion Inn at 11.20 I was pleased with the time I was making, and had a very nice baked potato and refill of water, making sure I didn’t sit down for too long! After a 30 minute break I thought it looked like the rain had stopped. It hadn’t, but I was still in high spirits.

A relatively pleasant walk along the road past the Ralph and Fat Betty crosses, then thanks to a handy bit of spray painting on the road from some helpful person the path was easy to identify.

It soon became clear that this stretch across Rosedale Moor wasn’t going to have a nice footpath. Instead is soon became a collection of deeply eroded channels with small streams of flowing/standing water over sloppy mud. So it was the choice of walking through slop or across the heather. The heather of course hiding extra fun bits like changes in height, squelchiness, and other channels to navigate across/around. On the upside at least all the boundary stones had painted white tops making the navigation easy. Plus I still had my waterproof trousers on, so the odd slip wasn’t resulting in me getting a soaking.

Then the white tops to the boundary stones disappear. At least I was still passing boundary stones to confirm the way. Just a shame there’s not the same level of visibility and route conformation I’d had for the past 2 or 3 km.

Arriving at Shunner Howe I quickly pressed on to the road, but before I carried on walking along that nice looking track on the other side (and being very thankful I wasn’t going to have to walk across more awful bog for a while) I decided to sit down on a handy rock. Then I noticed the a sign on the open gate which shows “Lyke Walk Walk 200yrds ->” and after a minute of thinking that’s odd I realised I should be 200yrds further along the road, which I confirmed by looking at the map again. A stroke of luck I sat down, as otherwise this sign was concealed from view. But where on earth was this path? Finally I resorted to looking in the book to check it was a piddly looking thing leading into the bog. After the motorway sized erosionfest I’d been walking on/next to the size of the path was a surprise, but the disappointment came more from entering the bog again.

So venturing once more into the bog (after the little almost navigation hiccup) the worry came that this time I wasn’t doing an entire moor in a straight line. But somehow I managed the required turnings, and passed the Blue-Mani’-th’-Moss without problem. Well, unless you consider yet more walking/slipping through the bog to be a problem. The occasional little bit of a bridge, presumably to help you across the wetter patches, did look slightly comical, completely stranded a foot above a severely eroded area with no hope of being reached.

On past the Wheeldale Plantation. Once again, very strangely, the path became a single lane, so plenty of wondering if I’m going the right way. But once past the trees I was back to the multi-lane highway of eroded bog (so I knew all was well, at least navigationally) and on to the Wheeldale Road.

Solid ground! Even if it was for less than half a km. Then faced by submerged stepping stones. Normally I might have messed around trying to find an alternative, but by this point I just went for it. Then up the steep slope which wasn’t much of an issue. More bog to Simon Howe. By this time I realised I might run out of light and have to finish in the dark. The thought got me down a little bit, but also meant I didn’t want to delay, so it was once again into the bog (which had been getting me down for some time).

A nice little bit of track after the railway line and past Eller Beck Bridge, and straight back into the bog. Even worse was the initial pass of Flyingdales as the ground next to Eller Beck was suitably churned up and soaking wet. More bog to Lilla Cross, but a nice bit of mown heather to walk across.

I didn’t like the look of the next section on the map, a few paths/tracks at angle that could lead me astray. I decided the best option was to take a bearing and just go for it, but the path stayed true and so I made it to Jugger Howe Beck. Lovely stone path to walk on, and then even a proper concrete track to the main road. Sadly I knew what was to come on the other side. Bog.

But I battled against the fading day light and made it to the end by 8.10pm, then a short bonus walk into Ravenscar to be reunited with my car.

Glad to have done it. Would I do it again – certainly not after a few wet days!

Lasting memory. Bog.

It was very boggy.

James Pepper