2 Crossing Reports – May 2016

I respectfully submit a short report detailing my two completions of the Lyke Wake Walk. The first crossing was on 9 – 10 May 2016 in extremely dry conditions. The second was 12 days later on 22 – 23 May 2016 in extremely wet conditions. Here is my tale.
To be honest the Lyke Wake Walk had dropped off my walking radar. I heard about it years ago, but there were bigger and greater walks out there (or so I thought) and so I’d sort of forgotten about it. That is until a friend of mine started posting pictures on Facebook of him completing a reconnaissance. My interest was piqued. How had I allowed this little beauty to escape me? Within a couple of days I found myself sat in my tent in Osmotherley counting the minutes and hours as I waited for the arbitrary start time I had set myself.
The weather had been scorching all week so I expected the bogs to be dry. It’ll be fine I kept telling myself. How many people have died in the bogs anyway? One last look on Google just in case I’d missed one. I have a fear of bogs. It’s not the wet feet or the mud. It’s the sinking in up to my neck and dying a lonely death, with grouse cackling my last rights as I sink deeper and deeper… anyway that’s not going to happen to me because it’s dry.
The tent was unbearably hot and much as I tried to rest I was just too excited. Sod it! I’m off.
So my planned 9pm start turned into 7pm. After a short walk up the road from the camp site I arrived at the LWW marker stone where I took the obligatory pictures and then headed off into the woodland following the LWW / Cleveland Way.
I had 2 litres of water and plenty of food. It was a gorgeous evening with a beautiful sunset. I don’t intend to go through a blow by blow account, suffice to say that the first 10 miles involves a lot of ups and downs. The route finding was easy enough, even in the dark, and around 11:30pm I arrived at Clay Bank. After a short rest I set off across Urra Moor towards Bloworth Crossing. Then came the mist.
There is something spooky about the moors at night. Add a liberal blanket of mist and your mind can have a field day. Stones that appear to move become figures intent on harm. Rustles in the heather, the sound of an approaching madman. Dagadagadagadagg! A grouse takes flight and I nearly embarrass myself. Man up for goodness sake, you’ll be dead in the bogs soon anyway. Thankfully the path to Bloworth Crossing and then on to the Lion Inn is easy to follow even in the mist. At the end of the old railway line I turned left to the Lion Inn. My GPS showed 19.8 miles so I was about half way. So far so good. A 3 mile section of road followed, and just after the turning to Fryup I found ‘LWW’ and an arrow painted in white on the road. It pointed into the wilderness of Rosedale Moor. Now if I’d set off at 9pm it would be getting light by now, that was my plan. As it was, it was still dark. The path looked well worn so I thought I’d give it a go by head torch.
Initially the path was easy to follow and I could pick out the white tops of the standing stones. Then they disappeared. So did the path. It was starting to get light and as far as I could see was waist height course grass growing out of a boggy morass – with deeper pools of standing water to catch the unwary.
I tracked left, then right. I backtracked. So much for it being bone dry. The first tentative steps saw me knee high in bog. As I tried to pull my leg out I could feel my shoe being sucked from my foot. I reached into the gloop and grabbed my laces. With a pincer action I recovered my shoe. Laces tightened I tried again. The art is to balance on the vegetation and walk east with purpose. I was soon making progress. When it became fully light I could see a myriad of trails through the vegetation, where people before me had squelched there way across. Once out the other side I could just make out a white topped marker post. I’d done it! But I vowed never again.
The route finding after this section was simple as the mist had lifted and it was now fully light. I found the two ravines during the last 10 miles hammered my quadriceps. The last one was particularly cruel. I could see the mast where the finish point was from miles away but it seemed to take an age to get there. I eventually reached the LWW stone that marked the end of my walk and took a couple of photographs. I then remembered that tradition is to have a pint in the hotel bar so I trudged down the road to the Raven Hall Hotel. Well it’s tradition isn’t it. Unfortunately I hadn’t realised that this place is posh. The staff were extremely polite but I’m sure they weren’t pleased to see me sat in their bar. I took my footwear off but when you have been bog trotting you tend not to look your best. A couple of pints then a £70 taxi ride saw me back at Osmotherley. 40.99 miles in 16 hours and some minutes. That was tough. Would I do it again? No!
Well when I say ‘no’ I mean… it can’t have been that hard… just one more go. I have a short memory and an understanding wife! One of the benefits of being retired is I am ‘time rich’, so 12 days later I returned to Osmotherley. This time it has been raining heavily so I knew it was going to be a totally different walk. I set off in the rain at 6pm from the campsite. I would hit the boggy section in the dark but now I was in a totally different frame of mind. Bring it on bog, I’m ready for you. I had a similar problem with an irrational fear of ticks. A few trips to Scotland fixed that. But that’s another story. The paths were running like streams with the water coming off the hills. Where I had bounced across the top of the mud, I now sank in the gloop. I ‘navigated’ the bogs in the dark managing to avoid the deep pools and pranced my way across the vegetation. I was soon out the other side.
The stepping stones at the river crossing were now under water, but as I had wet feet anyway, it didn’t matter. 16 hours and some minutes of hard slog saw me at the finish. I had set off with half a mind on walking back as well but I was done for. What was I thinking? No pint at the posh pub this time. I rang a taxi company and after another expensive taxi ride I was back at Osmotherley, where much beer was consumed.
This is a great walk. I didn’t see anyone on the trail during my two crossings and I loved the feeling of wilderness and isolation. You don’t have to walk through the night. A fit person could easily complete this during daylight hours, especially in summer.
Would I do it again? Of course. It’s got under my skin now. Now about this two way…

Mick Ellis

Spalding Lincolnshire.