Crossing W – E, 23-24/10/16

Solo crossing

Start 23/10/16 9.40pm Sheepwash
Finish 24/10/16 8.30pm Ravenscar Mast

Started in the dark from Osmotherley, weather was mild, slight cloud. Once
on top of the moors above Scugdale you could see the lights of Teesside and
beyond. The weather got worse with wind and light rain by the time I reached
the trig point above Carlton in Cleveland. At this point I met a fellow
walker who had walked from the Lion, the weather ahead didn’t look good.

I carried on, negotiating the Wainstones was interesting at 1am, in fact
this stretch wasn’t easy in the dark or underfoot.

The rain stopped by Urra and the moon was out followed by the long trek
along the old railway. I took shelter behind the wall on the Blakey Road,
had breakfast and watched the sun rise.

I approached the bog with intrepidation, was it going to be all as bad as
they say? I’d say it wasnt easy be I was let off lightly. The rain was back
by Hamer.

At Hamer there was a combination of reading the map wrong, the ambiguity of
instruction and a sign pointing in the wrong direction. This mistake added a
lot of extra time, extra miles and yet did I know I would have wet feet all
the way back to Ravenscar.

I made it back to the Blue Man and was back on track, the stepping stones
were just about passible, I stopped on Simon Howe for food and pressed on
through the wet conditions, every path was still full of water.

I’d just missed a train before Ellerbeck and reached Lilla Cross before the
sun set. Back in the darkness, this path was the worst on route, nearly lost
my boots twice, the surface had turned to quicksand. I finally reached
Jugger Howes and was desperate to get back to Ravenscar. Reached the final
stone at 8.30.

Many thanks

Aly Smith

Crossing report 01/10/2016

Being wise and having had the Golden Lion recommended (something we would heartily endorse) we set out on a West to East crossing at a rather tardy 3:40am from Osmotherley. Ste had caught a couple of hours sleep in the car after driving up from Birmingham – possibly not the best preparation but some people just won’t be told. Taking on calories in the form of real ale was clearly the better option.

It was with great vigour and not little speed that we flew across the first 10 or so miles, and it was only at Bloworth Crossing that the curves of the old railway started to feel a little endless and the promise of a break – and breakfast – at the Lion Inn because more and more important. A brief but heavy shower did little to cheer us on, not least because there were no actual clouds for the rain to be coming from. Combined with the considerable mocking for my poor memory of exactly which corner you’d see the pub from, it was all a bit grim for a while. As a consequence it was with great joy that we arrived just before 10am and undertook a brief conversation with a wonderful member of staff who wrangled the somewhat unwilling chefs into making us some bacon and sausage butties despite the pub actually being shut. We were eternally grateful and the disgustingly decadent but suitable tip was well deserved.

The main concern for us all had been the bog. We tried our best by repeatedly tempting fate, saying to each other how it wasn’t that bad – but it wasn’t ever that bad! We probably added a mile or two on avoiding some of the more lake like areas but emerged with mostly dry feet. I was actually cheered by the sight of Fylingdales at first but hours later it seemed no closer and we decided it must actually be moving itself away from us. Oddly enough, the radio mast at Ravenscar appears to be able to do the same thing. Ignoring blister based pain, we skipped up to the mast at 18:30 giving us a crossing time of 14 hours 50 minutes. I still can’t quite understand how we managed that! Top tips: The Viewranger app is great and means the maps can stay in your bag. Eat more than you think you need to or you’ll end up with low blood sugar, a dizzy spell, and testing the temperature of a radiator with your head (it was very hot).

Foolishly completed by Rob Parker, Ste Weatherhead, and Mike Baines

Report of a new crossing, 27-28th September 2016

In the midst of writing up my PhD thesis, I decided last week that things were all getting a bit heavy and I needed to clear to my mind. Having long desired to join the Lyke Wake club I set off to Osmotherley via Northallerton, and stayed in the Osmotherley YHA on Monday night.

I wasn’t particularly well prepared for the hike and was carrying far too much weight, including books, tent, sleeping bag and various extraneous items. But I was determined nevertheless to get through it, and had the very good guide book (purchased at Stanfords map shop in London) written by Brian Smailes to help me on my way. I carried 2litres of water and a very large number of chocolate bars.

I left the cairn at Osmotherley at 7.03AM. It was a rainless morning and the sun was rising, emitting a pink glow that reflected off the Cod Beck Reservoir and lent an ethereal quality to the moors. Feeling a little bit drowsy, I plodded for the first few miles through Coalmire Plantation and Live Moor. An early-rising dog-walker confirmed that I was on the right track, and I reached Lord Stones cafe without a hitch. Continuing through to the bleakness of Cringle Moor, there was a slight drizzle which served to wake me up a bit, and I reached the second checkpoint at the Clay Bank Road just before 11AM. It being 10miles into the hike, I set down the backpack and ate a couple of chocolate bars, resolving to increase my pace for the next stage.

This section took me on the long traverse of Urra Moor, which was misty and extremely bleak. I passed a few other hikers walking there and revelled in the general misery of the drizzle and wind. The old railway section after Bloworth Crossing offered a fascinating panorama of the winding moors from an elevated embankment, and as I walked East a Northerly wind was blowing into my right ear hole. I arrived at the Lion Inn before 3PM, and after poking my head through the door it looked extremely warm and pleasant. But with supreme self-restraint I reasoned that I ought to make haste and hurried off up the road before I could be drawn into its homely interior. Instead I walked up the road to the Ralph Cross and had a few more chocolate bars at the roadside. A couple of Dutch hikers walked past and I got into an interesting conversation with them about the EU Referendum and the political situation in Holland. We passed a dead adder lying beside the road, and not far from this deceased snake we parted ways at the peat bog turn-off, which was marked with a painted white arrow and ‘LWW’ on the tarmacadam.

The route over the peat bogs of Glaisdale Moor was my favourite part of the whole walk. Rejuvenated by my chocolate and political discussion, I fairly bounded over the bogs, occasionally sinking in but never deeper than my knees. This is real hiking, it requires a bit of agility and thought about your foot placement and I emerged from this section of the walk feeling very cheerful, albeit stained with stinky black peat. The late afternoon sun was warm for a short time so I changed my socks, took a drink and set about one or two more chocolate bars. After reaching the fourth checkpoint at Hamer, I turned left at the signpost and walked up the road until I found a narrow muddy trail that lead East across Wheeldale Moor. It is true, as my guidebook warned it would be, that this section felt a bit longer than it really is. Having done over 25 miles, I was rushing to try and reach the next checkpoint before the sun set, but the legs were a bit heavy now. I lost the path occasionally on my descent towards the Wheeldale Road, but could see the RAF base up on the hill in the distance. The crossing of Wheeldale Moor followed by the ascent of Simon Howe seemed to take a long time, and I was conscious that the sun was falling fast behind me. When I finally reached the Eller Beck Bridge the sun had fallen below the undulating horizon and I knew I had my most difficult sections of the walk ahead of me.

I was a bit delayed at this point because I arrived at the Southern end of Eller Beck Bridge. On my side of the bridge there was a gated footpath leading through the MOD Fylingdales estate, but my guide book instructed me to cross the bridge and look for a small path on the right, which made me suspect it was on the Northern end of the bridge. After a bit of twilit searching, I concluded that I should just head East through the military-owned area. After about a mile of this, at 7.30PM, the light dwindled to the point where I had to get my lamp out. The lamp was a bit dim, the path before me was muddy and I may have taken a wrong turning here or there. I trusted my compass and continued to head East until I ran into a sign warning me about non-ionizing radiation. I thought it best not to go past this sign but instead veered away from it in a more North-Easterly direction and crossed some fairly thick heath before hitting a well-maintained gravel track. I followed this for half an hour until, to my delight, I reached the crossing with another grave track shown in the guide book. It was pitch black by now and I couldn’t see a clear path heading East, so left the track and headed up the hill through more heath. The summit of the hillside stood against the horizon more darkly than the sky, so I got to the top without a path and was pleased to see Lilla Cross loom out of the darkness. Feeling rather bullish about my prospects of completing the Lyke Wake challenge now, I shuffled off slowly across Fylingdales Moor. This stretch seemed to last for an age, and the lights of traffic on the Scarborough-Whitby road winked at me tauntingly in the distance. I lost the path more than once, but always chose to maintain a course due East until by some miracle I found the path that crossed the ravine at Jugger Howe. There followed an annoyingly long ascent and traipse along a concrete path before I finally reached the main road a short time before midnight.

By this point I was in a bit of pain, as the soggy ground had caused the soles of my feet to wrinkle and blister painfully. I was also a little dehydrated as I’d run out of water a few hours previously, and low on energy as there seemed to be no more chocolate in my bag. I suspected that I was probably a long way from the final checkpoint at Jugger Howes and couldn’t identify my location on the map. Coming across a signpost for a campsite at Spring Hill farm, I decided to make for that. I found a water tap in the darkness at Spring Hill, and what seemed like good flat grass. I couldn’t see Spring Hill on my OS map, and concluded that I may not make the finish in under 24hrs after all. Exhausted and disorientated, I pitched up my tent there with some resignation and went to sleep on the hard ground, which felt like a feather bed. As an afterthought, I set my alarm for 5AM on the off chance that I woke up with a better idea for how to find the finishing point.

Waking up reluctantly and in pain, but somewhat refreshed and rehydrated, I looked at my map again. There was still no sign of Spring Hill, but when I turned the map over, there it was, just a little further North! I immediately packed up my tent and hurried off towards the main road. While packing, I found some treasure – one last Mars Bar in the bottom of my rucksack, which I inhaled. It was after 6AM by now, and I had less than an hour to reach the final Lyke Wake cairn! This was not so easy in the dark with zero knowledge of the area. Heading back to the main road, I followed it South before turning down a small non-signposted road on my left, which lead due East. ‘What the hell’ I thought, and broke into a run. At the end of this road there was a signpost, pointing towards Ravenscar! I set off running across a field in the direction it indicated, and as the morning lightened I could just make out the pointy mast of Beacon Howes on the brow of a hill ahead! I quickened my pace – there was about 40 minutes until my time was up and I didn’t want to take any chances. As I ran full pelt up the hill, the sun broke over the Eastern horizon and glowed red at me. I didn’t slow down until the mast loomed over me and I finally saw the cairn beside it with the words ‘Lyke Wake Walk’ on it. I had arrived just 25 minutes before the 24 hour deadline. My mission complete, I collapsed in a sweaty heap on the grass to watch the silent sun rise crimson over the sleepy cliffs of Yorkshire.

Michael Ridley

Full Breakdown of checkpoint timings (checkpoints taken from the official Lyke Wake Walk Guide by Brian Smailes):

Start: 7.03
Checkpoint 1: 9.25
Checkpoint 2: 10.55
Checkpoint 3: 14.10
Checkpoint 4: 15.55
Checkpoint 5: 18.50
Checkpoint 6: 23.49
Finish: 6.38

Time taken: 23hrs 35minutes