Not Bad for a Couple of old ‘uns – Lyke Wake Walk – Crossing 22nd May 2016

Pat Fowler. Previous crossings; 26/06/92, 02/06/05, 19/06/06, 09/07/10, 27-28/02/11, 16/06/13, 18/05/14, 04-05/08/14, 7-8/06/15
Graham Dixon, Previous crossings; 09/07/10, 27-28/02/11, and 16/06/13, 7-8/06/15.

This crossing germinated during a conversation with walking buddy, Graham, in February. Over a coffee he asked” are we going to do a walk this year?”. I knew what he meant was, are we going to do a serious walk this year, not one of the fairly regular days out walking with a leisurely pub lunch and obligatory pint or two.

After a pause for thought I replied “It would be really good to do the Lyke Wake on my 65th birthday on 22nd May, which would also be my 10th crossing and your 5th”. Graham said that would be good and that was that.

After the usual pre walk fitful night’s sleep it was good to be at the Lyke Wake Stone: photograph taken and taking the first step of the walk at 4.20 am. It was a nice fine morning which was also good. All the previous week the forecasts for the day were predicting heavy showers of rain from dawn to dusk giving rise to a vision of waterproofs being put on and off all day. Only on the previous day had the forecast improved to occasional showers.

Good progress was made on the first section to the breakfast stop at Hasty Bank 3 hours later but the amount of ascent and decent in that early part of the walk always seems to surprise me. It was also a surprise to meet a walker with his Labrador coming across the field just before Huthwaite Green half an hour after setting off. We were to meet only 3 other walkers during the rest of the walk. Anyway, back to food, we had a hearty breakfast of sandwiches, pork pie and Lincolnshire plum bread. You will see that food does feature heavily in this report as it was a relatively uneventful crossing – well relatively!

I always think that the next bit is the easy bit. Still fresh and fortified with breakfast we enjoy 3½ flat miles on the railway line. I know some walkers seem to find the openness of the railway line and being buffeted by wind to be a trial but I think it’s the easy bit. Cutting across from the railway line to Ralph’s Cross it did become apparent that there had been some heavy rain in the last day or two, with wet conditions underfoot, boggy bits, puddles, little streams etc.

Back to the important bit, at Ralph’s cross our intrepid support team had freshly fried Lincolnshire sausages in whole meal baps waiting for us. We are spoiled, aren’t we? Unfortunately we had to decline pudding but advised that it would be very nice if it was available at Hamer.

No surprises in walking to Hamer: wet and boggy but just about managed to keep our feet dry. At Hamer we had our pudding: homemade tiramisu; very nice it was too. Well the next bit is where the walk always seems to get serious. Tiredness is starting to seriously set in, particularly on Wheeldale where the difficult terrain just seems to go on forever.

Just over half way across Wheeldale on a fairly clear but wet bit I heard a thud and gasp from behind and turned to see what was going on. Graham was spread eagled arms and legs akimbo flat on his face in a large shallow puddle. It sort of reminded me of a character in a Dandy or Beano comic who had fallen to the earth from 20,000 feet splat on the ground. Graham slowly pulled himself up to his feet and said, “You should have got a photograph of that.” Then with a look of real concern on his face he added “Oh, my phone. I hope I haven’t got water in it”. With blood dripping from his hand he examined his phone and decided it was Ok. Only then did he check on his injuries: a chunk out his hand, bruised ribs, a bit shaken but otherwise ok. Just in case you are wondering, he had stepped on a stone in the puddle to save walking through it and the stone rolled. Within a minute, having assured me he was OK we were on our way again. At Wheeldale Beck balancing on a stepping stone he washed his wounds but after being bent over with head down and tired of course, it was a bit of a balancing act for him to get back into a standing position.

Oh well, onto Ellerbeck. Graham got his hand attended to by a paramedic, (well his wife), who also very kindly surprised me with a birthday cake which was excellent with a cup of tea. We didn’t have candles as you don’t want to stop too long at this stage of the walk as you tend to stiffen up and then it’s a job to get going again. 65 candles would just have taken too long to light and it’s also doubtful whether I would have had sufficient puff to blow them all out.

After a short break we pressed on. The old legs were getting weary at this stage. It was still very wet underfoot and every step was more of an effort. Eventually we dropped down into Jugger Howes, dragged ourselves up the other side and along the concrete road to the A111. We left our rucksacks with the support team and made our way along the final bit of the walk. I’d forgotten that this is mostly uphill, only gradually but at this stage it’s significant. I also think that it’s strange that the finish at Ravenscar mast is actually higher above sea level than the start at Osmotherly. Doesn’t seem right somehow, does it? Anyway, jubilation, 18.09 pm and we’ve made it yet again. There’s the usual bottle of wine to be cracked open and a photograph to be taken.

The crossing took 13 hours 49 minutes of which 1hour 22mins was taken by the 4 breaks, so actual walking time was 12 hours 27 minutes. Well I do like to keep a record of the time taken, If I didn’t we wouldn’t have known that it’s our fastest crossing yet. Not bad for a couple of old ones. What this means is that with a combined age of 134, we have only just reached our peak of physical fitness, or of course who knows, the peak may still be yet to come!

After a shower we enjoyed a good meal and a couple of pints in the bar of the lovely old Heyburn Wyke Inn finishing with a large whisky. It also just so happened that the music in the bar that evening was 300 Bob Dylan songs on shuffle. For me ….perfect. Sometimes the planets all come into alignment….. and so to bed, a birthday to be remembered.

Section time Real time location Support team travel time
3hrs 0 mins 04:20 Set off from Lyke Wake Stone, Osmotherly 25 mins
05:13 Bottom of steps up to Live Moor
05:31 Large stone cairn
05:51 Trig point
06:08 Crossed road at Carlton Bank
06:25 Viewing point, Cringle Moor
06:42 Dip before start of forest point
07:20 Road. Clay bank
2hrs 35mins 07:40 Leave Clay Bank 40 mins
08:18 Trig point Round Hill
08:43 Bloworth Crossing
09:39 Leave railway track
10:15 Road junction, Ralph’s Cross
1hr 33 mins 10:44 Leave road junction, Ralph’s Cross 45 mins
11:10 Leave road and onto moor
12:17 Arrive at road, Hamer
2hrs 35 mins 12:31 Leave Hamer 30 mins
13:00 Man in the Moss Stone
13:53 Cross over road after Wheeldale Moor
14:05 Stepping stones
14:32 Simon Howe trig point
15:06 Arrive at slip road, Ellerbeck
2hrs 44 mins 15:25 Leave Ellerbeck slip road

30 mins
15 mins
16:10 Lilla Cross
Burn Howe Stone
17:08 Jugger Howes Bridge
17:37 Cross A171
18:09 Arrive Lyke Wake Stone, Ravenscar

Total Crossing time: 13hrs 49 mins
Walking time: 12hrs 27mins
Eating / resting 1hr 22mins
Time log West to East crossing. 22nd May 2016