I am 67 years old and live in the Blue Mountains near Sydney, New South Wales. I came across the Lyke Wake Walk when I did the Coast to Coast walk in June 2012 with my wife and another couple. It was something I’d had in the back of my mind since then and the opportunity arose when I had a few days to spare in June this year. The idea of floundering about in a bog in the dark doesn’t appeal to me so I had decided that the best way to attempt the walk was to do it when the days are longest and to spend the darkness hours in the Lion Inn. The only day in my window of opportunity that they had accommodation available was Monday 19 June so that determined the timing of my attempt. Obviously a 10 pm check-in and departure at 3 am is not common as they made me pay in advance before even accepting my booking!
So I bought the two 1:25,000 OS maps and marked the LWW on them. I then cut off the only bits I needed – luckily the LWW is completely contained in one of the 4 horizontal quarters of the map so the cut was simple but I found it very painful as I love maps! I arrived at Scarborough in a hire car on the evening of Friday 16 June and spent the week-end familiarising myself with the parts where I thought navigation would be a challenge. I also met several sets of LWW walkers who were able to advise me of conditions and alert me to problem areas – mainly Rosedale Moor where I spent some time finding the best way through and left some markers to help me find it again. I also left supplies of water in strategic places to limit the amount I’d have to carry.
I set off on Monday 19 June at 2.15 pm precisely from the LWW stone at the Osmotherley car park in warm dry conditions, although I had my waterproofs on board as the forecast included the possibility of a shower. My focus was on getting to the Lion Inn by 9.30 pm when they stopped taking meal orders! I picked up the steak and ale pie I had reserved at Lordstones café and stopped to eat it on the ridge after Wain Stones taking in the spectacular view over the flat country to the coast and Teeside. Fellow walkers were few and the only person I saw after the half-way mark at Clay Bank was a distant person in a high-viz jacket doing I know not what in the middle of the moor. However non-human life was profuse with grouse and they babies, other birds, sheep and rabbits everywhere. Conditions were excellent and my load was light so I was able to arrive at the Lion Inn at 8.51 pm, time for a shower before dinner!
I’d had a problem with the alarm on my phone so the helpful staff at the Lion Inn were able to lend me an alarm radio. I was also able to drop off and leave a bag there to be picked up so I was able to have a change of socks and other essentials without having to carry them – luxury! So I set off on plan at 2.51 am on Tuesday 20 June with my focus on getting to Ravenscar before 1.45 pm – the time of the last bus to Scarborough (or indeed anywhere else)! However the conditions were nothing like the previous day – it was very cold and I was able to see the white line and edges of the road. Luckily this was all I needed as it was all I could see in visibility of 25 yards (I was able to determine this by measuring the distance to the white line gaps as I walked – I had nothing else to do in the 5 km of road walking). As time progressed it got slightly lighter but visibility didn’t improve. If I hadn’t have walked the section over Rosedale Moor on the week-end I would probably have had to abandon the attempt as the prospect of being on unfamiliar moorland bog in fog before 4 am wouldn’t have been inviting.
As it happened I set off in visibility I was able to assess at 40 yards by measuring the distance to boundary stones as they came into view. As I approached the boggy area I found my markers set on the week-end and was able to safely negotiate it without mishap or wet feet. Visibility was no better by Blue Man i’ th’ Moss and it was not until I approached Wheeldale Road that I started to see some swirling of the mist and visibility improved to a couple of hundred yards. I also saw sheep for the first time – I don’t know where they had been lurking until then. However the handy concrete compass of Fylingdales which I had been looking forward to using was nowhere to be seen! I also met a frog – it and my left boot must have left the ground simultaneously without being aware of each others presence. They met in mid-air giving me a surprise and the frog probably the shock of its life. Luckily it was only a glancing blow and it was able to hop off after landing on the path and steadying itself.
Visibility gradually improved as I got more tired and I found myself drifting off the track for the first time going up Eller Beck – due to lack of concentration. Again the value of the week-end reconnoitre proved invaluable as I was able to recognise my error and quickly get back on track. I was also grateful that all of the water I had left was still there to be picked up, enabling me to keep the weight down. At Lilla Cross the ground was dry enough to sit down for the first time to have a snack – luxury! I was also able to appreciate the solitary beauty of the moorland – at this stage after 6 ½ hours walking the only humans I had seen were in cars on the roads I had crossed. After this I perked up and was able to up the pace with the finish (and the last bus from Ravenscar) within reach. About 1 km before the finish I met the first fellow walker – a photographer out to take pictures of the moorland flowers. Shortly after I was at the LWW finish stone at 11.29 am – 21 hours 14 minutes and 35 seconds after setting out, with exactly 6 hours of this time having been spent in the Lion Inn. I walked slowly to the Raven Hall Hotel to enjoy a couple of pints and lunch before catching the bus to Scarborough and civilisation.
I’m already thinking about a walk in the opposite direction but a winter crossing holds no appeal for me; however who knows – that may change!
Bart Beech

Crossing 20th June 2017 ……………

On June the 20th myself and Lorna completed an unsupported crossing in just over ten hours. We started at around 1130 pm, the weather was fine though there was a good solid easterly wind blowing and it was somewhat cooler than it had been the previous couple of nights. We set off at a steady run and were very soon climbing up Carlton Bank and then across the base of the three users to Clay Bank. The lower track was nice and dry and made for easy running once you zeroed your eyes in to the tree roots!
After climbing Carlton bank we had a brief stop and sat on the bench and looked at the lights of Broughton and Teesside below us. Pressing on we were buffeted by a persistent wind all the way to Bloworth. We said hello to the Face Stone as we passed and he must have been smiling on us as the wind calmed somewhat as we hit the Railway Line to the Lion, sadly already closed a pint of OP would have gone down a treat! Having traversed the railway line we hit the Road and made our way to the turning point at a steady canter well Lorna did I think I trotted or trudged I hate Road.. Once onto the Moor I picked up the pace and headed down towards the bog. Thankfully quite dry and runnable. I even managed to get across without ending up into my knees at last my route selection appears to be improving, or was it just dry
After crossing the road we were soon passing the Blue Man in t Moss again we doffed our caps to him and pressed on. This section is also pretty dry. By this time the sun was starting to come up and a bright pink line was appearing to the East. The stepping stones at Wheeldale were crossed without incident or mishap and we continued on up to Simon Howe by now it was the half light that heralds the dawn. Simon Howe stood out proudly welcoming the coming dawn.  This thought entered my head as I ran past not sure whether it was tiredness or something else that sent me off Waxing Lyrical….
After dropping down to the road we had a quick pit stop and a bite before pressing on the wind was still pretty keen and not at all Solstice like, jackets were donned and buffs pulled up!
Ellerbeck came and went without incident oh apart from Snake gate Lorna was by passed by an early morning Adder which sidled past her as we made for Lila Cross. The next few minutes mainly consisted of Lorna high stepping and shrieking through the long grass pursued by wriggling slithery things.
Lila came and went  how many people have passed that ancient cross over the 1400 hundred or so years that it has stood sentinel.
Once on the yellow track we picked up the pace and rushed down to Jugger Howe I do truly love Jugger Howe not my fastest ascent today though! Lorna showed me a clean pair of heels, well maybe not the clean bitI
WE soon crossed the Scarborough Road and began the interminable climb to the mast try as i might I could not stop peeping at it to see if it was getting any nearer and of course it didn’t !
A few minutes later we both touched the LW stone and gave the mast a steely eyed Ive got you at last look! We then  sprinted gingerly down through the field along the Road and back to Eleanor who was parked just short of Ravenscar Hotel. A quick change and a rather large breakfast and several steaming mugs of coffee were the order of the day!

Unsupported crossing 7th June 2017

First time Dirgers: Dave Ellis, Martin Ward & Chris Raynor

My father, John Raynor, did the LWW five times between 1970 and 1972 with a group of friends calling themselves ‘The Boggy Booters’. The Booters’ badge (Dad’s design) was a toilet bowl with a walking boot balanced on top, the boot taking the place of a semi-flipped-up toilet seat. To my younger self the LWW was something dark and intriguing, oft mentioned by Dad and his friends, a collection of patches, objects and crossing cards in a coffin-shaped box in the dining room table drawer. I remember thinking about doing the walk in my twenties, but never that seriously. Four or five years ago I bought the twin OS maps of the North York Moors, but it wasn’t until after Dad’s funeral in 2015 that planning began in earnest. A very tall fellow called Steve Otter – one-time dirging companion of Dad – approached me at the funeral suggesting a trip to the moors.  My sister and I went with Steve last year, up to the viewpoint on Cringle Moor, with a good meal at Lord Stones Cafe on the way back. Hence, this crossing was conceived in dedication to John Edward Raynor (1938 – 2015) husband and father, draughtsman, trumpeter, history buff, ex-soldier and Dirger.

So it happens that I find myself in Osmotherley at 5pm on 7th June, the day after my 45th birthday, eating fish and chips with two friends from work on a bench outside the chippy. Dave and Martin are both younger than I am. Martin is undoubtedly physically the fittest. Bellies perhaps a little too full, we drive up by the reservoir to the Lyke Wake Stone and prepare to walk. My backpack is the largest and heaviest, a heavy-duty modern military type 45l (I’m navigating so I also have the maps and compass; I also have a serious quantity of Snickers bars). Dave’s pack looks about the same size as mine but is clearly a touch lighter. Martin’s is suspiciously small – day-sack sized – can he really have all he needs? My boots are also heavy duty: an almost new pair of Asolo’s I bought when I realised my previous pair were leaking. Not ideal, but I’m happy I’ve worn them in with about fifty miles’ walking. Dave’s boots look quite lightweight, and I wonder how he’ll fare on the boggy section.

(In April this year I practiced the LWW route over two days, staying at the Lion Inn, Blakey, overnight. The weather was fine and had been for nearly a week before, but the boggy section was still boggy and at one point I worried about the mud claiming a boot and a gaiter. On that walk I met a couple who told me about an organised LWW they’d done after bad weather, when they’d been issued with heavy duty bin liners to use as disposable waders. I have heeded their advice and passed it on.)

Recent weather has not been good. It’s fine as we get ready, but if the BBC forecast is correct it will start raining at ten or eleven this evening and probably won’t stop until after we’re done. At 6.15 – two hours earlier than planned – we touch the stone and start walking, falling quickly into a pattern: Martin ahead, Dave in the middle and me bringing up the rear. The early wooded sections are pleasant, any potential shelter offered by the trees being taken completely for granted. At the viewpoint on Cringle Moor I pay my respects to Dad’s hat, which he lost here to a long-ago gust of wind. All is well as we tackle the series of ascents and descents which characterise the next few miles. My boots are rising a bit at the back. Possible blister warning, but it’s not too bad. I’m losing ground to the others though, particularly on the downhill, listening to the bitter voice of experience and taking my time so as not to traumatise my knees.

At the top of the descent to checkpoint two we stop to size up the path ahead. The sun won’t be with us for much longer. Halfway up the other side, in twilight, it starts to rain. Not hard: ‘heavy drizzle’ would be the best description (It turns out the BBC were spot-on: apart from a brief dry-spell in the mist before Hamer, ‘heavy drizzle’ will be our constant companion for the remainder of the walk). Before long it’s head torches on and I begin to notice a strange optical effect: The ring of darkness between the snorkel of my hood and the circular beam of my head torch appears to be inside my hood, like the edge of a heavy set of goggles. The effect is enhanced by my hood completely protecting my face from the rain, which is blowing from the right. Indeed, my memory of that section of the walk is of wearing goggles. I definitely wasn’t wearing goggles.

We hit the railway and it’s a good thing the path is so well-defined: visibility has taken another turn for the worse. At first I think it’s because we’ve turned into the rain, but it’s fog that’s the problem: we can see no more than three or four metres with our head torches on. We’ve been walking the railway line for what seems a very long time, and morale takes its first dent. I don’t feel so bad, but I’ve been here before and I’m confident in my own map reading (and that following the very obvious track will ultimately lead us to where we need to be). The others have never been here, have no idea if my navigation skills are up to scratch, and very possibly believe I’m about to get them lost on the moors at night, in the rain and fog with no shelter. With some small misgivings we pass a handmade sign pointing left off the path marked ‘LWW’. From the map it seems this is a shortcut over rougher ground, cutting out the Lion Inn completely, but this isn’t an option as we need to replenish our water at the Inn’s outside tap. Privately, I’m relieved to have to stick with the clear, wide track of the railway.

Martin informs us he’s been sleeping, which is strange because we haven’t stopped. He has apparently fallen asleep while walking. I hope he’s not been actually sleep-walking because I’ve seen people in a sleep-walking state before and they give me the willies. It’s a good job the path at this point is so straight and without obstacles, and that Martin was in front. We stop briefly and he’s fine. The sleep has apparently done him some good.

We all agree we could do with some half-decent shelter for our wee-hours meal. Things get tense when I express surprise at the compass heading, but I figure we must be further ahead than I thought and identify what I proclaim to be a shortcut to the Inn, up a track heading west. If I’m right it’s the same shortcut I took before. Martin asks how certain I am. ‘Eighty percent’ I say. They look nonplussed. ‘Ninety’ I say, wanting to inspire a little more confidence. We’re all very relieved when we hit the road a few minutes later (though I try not to appear too relieved).

Unbeknown to me, the Lion Inn has taken on Shangri-La-like proportions in the minds of my fellow walkers. Martin will later confess he was hoping for a late night lock-in. After a fruitless scout round for shelter we settle for the corner bench next to the entrance, where we have the rain and an empty pint glass for company. We can see inside where the dimly lit chairs and tables sit smugly and distant beer taps mock us outright. It isn’t quite the R’n’R we were hoping for. Never mind. We eat in silence, fill up on water and get going. Martin and Dave want to press on, but I’m aware that soon we’ll be leaving the roads and tracks for marsh and mud, something I’m not comfortable with in the dark.

On the road after checkpoint three it’s as though we’ve not rested. It’s the constant rain: water torture, light but insistent. I tell them there’s a stone called Fat Betty round here but we must have walked right past her. Martin appears to have just experienced some mild hallucinations, having had flashes of petrol stations and bins at the side of the road. He’s tired and we stop at the small car park to sit down. Martin will later say he thought there were other people there with us (there weren’t). He falls asleep sitting and wakes ten minutes later, saying he feels as though he’s slept for hours. It’s clear that dawn is approaching fast and all three of us feel much better in ourselves and about the whole enterprise in general.

The bogs are bad, but not as bad as I worried they might be considering the grim weather. Martin, being the most athletic of us and carrying the lightest load, jumps across some of the worst bits. I opt for a different tack, trusting my boots and gaiters to cope with some of it and testing the footing ahead with a prod from the long wooden stick I’m carrying. Dave watches how Martin and I fare and adjusts his route accordingly. This is fun! Minds engaged, sun rising behind the mist, the rain slacked off, not entirely sure which direction we’re supposed to be heading but figuring it out and getting on. At one point Dave dons the pair of bin liners he’s brought and is immediately glad he did when he sinks knee-deep in the mud. Eventually the rain comes back and we settle into this new phase of the walk, where uneven footing is the norm, punctuated by mud pits and patches of swamp. I start to see faces in the path, either in the pattern of stones and soil or on the surface of larger rocks. Most look friendly. A few of them look like skulls.

Dave and I have slowed, whereas Martin has maintained – if not quickened – his pace. I catch up with Martin, who seems to be hiding in a grouse butt, head occasionally popping up. He’s found a small furry creature in there which has fallen in and is now trapped. It looks like a small rabbit, but without very long ears. It’s clearly in a bit of a panic with Martin as its new inmate. He’s trying to figure a way to free the wee beastie, and won’t rest until it’s done. With a staircase made of rucksacks and rocks, it eventually finds its way out. We have done our good deed for the day.

The stepping stones at Wheeldale Beck are mostly submerged by the torrent flowing through them – a different spectacle to the quiet flow I witnessed here in April – but we cross easily enough. On Simon Howe we have our first sight of RAF Fylingdales, previously invisible through the mist. At Eller Beck some of my previous options for crossing are unavailable due to the deluge, forcing us to deliberate and cross the stream twice. The climb to Lilla Howe is heavy going. Martin waits for us shortly before the top, but hanging around is giving him a chill and soon he’s off. From here, with the mast at the finish line now visible, the going is hard. Over the course of the walk I have felt a few minutes of pain apiece as my heel blisters burst, but they’re ok now. The problem is all my movements have slowed. I can keep walking – slowly – but any other movement – taking off my pack or adjusting my belt – is an ordeal. Dave looks pained.

I wait for Dave at the top of Jugger Howe ravine, eat a Snickers and we lay down for a few minutes. Ahead, there’s no sign of Martin. The descent is torturous, the climb up the other side not as bad as I’d feared. Nearly at the main road, checkpoint six, Martin comes to meet us. He’s been waiting awhile. He offers to walk on to the Raven Hall Hotel, pick up the car and come get us at the finish. We thank him muchly and again he’s off. The final gentle ascent to the finish is the slowest tract of earth I have ever walked, willing that mast to come just a little closer all the time. It occurs to me that Dave and I on that last stretch must look very much like a decrepit old man (me with my stick) being pursued by a relentlessly shuffling zombie. At last we are there, just as Martin arrives in the car. Bless his soul. We touch the stone. The time is 14.45. It has taken Dave and I twenty hours and thirty minutes to make our first crossing. Martin’s time is obviously better – just under 20 hours at a guess – and would undoubtedly be better still had he had speedier travelling companions. My dad made his first crossing in under sixteen hours. Good on you, Dad.

Chris Raynor

Crossing 02nd/03rd June 2017

I first did the LWW as an 18 years old in 1977 with two friends (unsupported) in 15.5 hours. Did it again unsupported in 1987, supported in 1997 and unsupported in 2007 as a final leg of our own version of coast to coast. Apart from these 10 year crossings I did it in 2002 (supported) and as a two day crossing in 2006 (I know that doesn’t count). Also in 2012 (supported).
Anyhow I thought I had best do my 10 year crossing so 9pm Friday 2nd June 2017 I set off with 61 year old brother in laws Dave Clare  (accompanied me in 1987), his 15 year old grandson Ethan Grenville Wood, my 68 year old brother in law Dave Syson (Del Boy),and friends Gavin Stainsby (our ex marine) and Ernie Potts. The group were from Ugthorpe Lodge caravan park near Whitby which was a useful base for our driver George to keep calling back to during the night.

Del Boy had decided at the last minute to join us but only for the first stage from Osmotherley to Clay Bank. We had decided this was a safe option as although he was a reasonable walker he did not have the stamina for the full trip. Neither Del Boy nor Ethan had really ever walked on the moors and mountains and Ethan had only that week returned from living in South Carolina in the USA so the UK climate was a real culture shock. We started fairly well as most crossings do and reached Huthwaite Green in a reasonable time. Just as we entered the woods the weather changed and it started to rain. We decided to put wet weather gear on and I said that I was getting my head torch out but not yet turning it on to preserve my night vision. Del Boy was rooting round in his bag and apart from an head torch loaned from myself he had a high powered halogen torch that at that moment he decided to turn on. A beam of light struck me full on in the eyes much to Gavin’s amusement. Once I had recovered from this I took Del Boys numerous layers he had abandoned and put them into my rucksack as I had a dry sack liner and Del Boys bag was too small. We then continued with Del Boy keeping up his usual non stop banter with anyone prepared to listen. I was overtaken at speed by Gavin muttering “he never shuts up”.

The weather just deteriorated nothing like the weather report I had looked at a few hours previously but it is North Yorkshire after all and I’ve never had a completely dry crossing. As we proceeded along the Cleveland Hills following what I believe is an excellent path I could hear Del Boy and Ernie begin to mutter about how difficult the path was. This was mainly the regular drainage channels we came across and with visibility down to a few feet I could well understand how they found this difficult. Ernie walking behind me took to shouting “Gully” at each channel which was taken up by Ethan and Del Boy. After a while this became monotonous and I informed the group that with headtorches they should be able to see every Gully for themselves and as they were so regular it was pointless shouting a warning. This stopped the constant shout of “Gully” but Ernie immediately managed to fall over on one twisting his ankle. We continued past Lord Stones café and for a while I hoped we would be on time to reach Clay Bank but with the weather getting worse and Ernie’s now pronounced limp we became very slow. Once past the Wainstones I thought we may speed up a bit but Ernie managed to trip up three more times and Del Boy seemed to go into ultra slow mode but still managing to talk constantly and occasionally exclaiming “call this a walk”. Eventually after what seemed forever but was actually five and a half hours we reached Clay Bank and the welcome site of George, his car and cups of tea and coffee.

Ernie took the sensible decision to stay with George and I expected Del Boy to do likewise as he had agreed. Gavin had already said to me that Del Boys speed (or lack of it) was making us walk so slow that we were feeling the cold. In addition we agreed that a lung infection he had assured us had cleared was now returning and it was not good for his health. At this point someone had to say something and Gavin took the sensible decision to go for a pee leaving me to inform Del Boy that it would be best if he stayed with the car. He looked at me very much like a little boy whose toys I had just taken away and said “what your sacking me?”. Muttering “well they don’t want me” and “I’ve been shot out of better places than this” he climbed into Georges car and then we were four.

The stage to the Lion Inn was pretty uneventful and we had agreed to meet George at Rosedale Head as close to Glaisdale Moor as possible so that after a quick break we would be straight onto the moor. Daylight came before Bloworth Crossing and we quickly made our way past the Lion Inn onto the Farndale to Westerdale Road. Driving towards us we saw my wife Janet and Ethan’s mum Lisa who had decided to meet George and make some bacon sandwiches and cups of tea. Janet pulled up and looked at Ethan and said “you look shattered do you want to get in”. Not a word was said but we suddenly became three as Ethan climbed into the back and promptly fell asleep. Dave had been quiet throughout this time but made a slight step towards the car. A murderous look from myself and he stepped back. Janet drove off and we continued along the road cutting across the valley and on getting back onto the road I was surprised to see the cars waiting for us and not a mile further along the road as we planned. Janet explained she had decided to meet us earlier to make it easier totally missing the point that we now had a mile trudge on tarmac with nothing to look forward to. Anyhow sarnies eaten, tea drank and blisters sorted we set off again.

Rosedale Moor was its usual boggy trudge but a beautiful sun came out, we warmed up, dried out and enjoyed the walk to Wheeldale Lodge where I had fond memories of a stay in 1988 when it was a youth hostel. I always think we don’t do justice to the Eastern moors as we cross fantastic countryside when all we want to do is get to the end. We saw George again on the Rosedale Abbey road and then at Fylingdales where we were pleasantly surprised to see that after a few hours sleep he had Ernie with him albeit he could only hop on one leg. Then the long trudge to Lilla Howe and I showed Gavin the beacon at Ravenscar. Even the ex marine said “is it still all that way?”

We reached the A171 road hoping to see George but unfortunately he was delayed having driven back to the caravan site to join in someone’s birthday celebrations. No cups of tea at this stop then but undeterred the three of us continued to the mast to finish in 19 hours and 38 minutes.

ill I do it in 2027? Don’t know. Hopefully at 68 if I’m lucky I will be fit enough only time will tell but it would be nice to mark a fifty year crossing for me. In the meantime I have promised Del Boy we will do the rest of the LWW from Clay Bank to Ravenscar in three stages so he can at least say he’s walked the route and had the advantage of seeing some of the finest countryside in the world without the blisters!


I would like to report a successful crossing of the Lyke Wake Walk which took place on Sunday 28 May 2017 by brother and sister team, Ian Deeley (50), from Winchester, and Andrea Deeley (53) from Leighton Buzzard. We’re experienced backpackers, but we’ve never done more than 20 miles in one stretch!
Support team: Colin and Maureen Deeley (parents).

We did the walk because Dad and an RAF colleague made a successful crossing back in 1969 and he had often suggested we do the LWW because it’s such a great walk. Dad recovered from serious illness last Christmas so we decided this must be the year to finally do it!

On the evening of Saturday 27 May Dad drove us into the centre of Osmotherley and dropped us outside the Queen Catherine pub at around 11.05pm, where a live band was playing (not very well!). After sorting all our gear we walked up the road to Cod Beck Reservoir in time for a midnight start. We searched for the Lyke Wake stone in the large car park but could we find it in the darkness? No! We found a standing stone but with no markings. Oh dear, not a good start (or even the official start), but as we’d walked from Osmotherley we must have passed it at some point so our crossing is valid! The bulb in Ian’s headtorch then failed and he had no replacement. Good job I had a spare with me as well as my own! We finally set off on our crossing at 00:03.

It was warm and cloudy but also very windy which I realised to my cost when trying to turn my map over just before turning onto the Cleveland Way. Eventually I had to sit on it by the road to prevent it from flapping about, or worse still, flying away!

The first section of the Cleveland Way through woodland on cinder path passed without incident, though a compass bearing was necessary to get across an open field out to the lane near Huthwaite Green. From here we slowly ascended by the edge of Live Moor Plantation before the path turned east and the ascent up Round Hill started in earnest. Descending from Carlton Bank was a slow affair in the dark, but before long we were at the road crossing with the bulky shape of the Lord Stones Café looming up ahead.

We had our first break at the viewpoint on Cringle Moor at 02:43, sheltering from the wind on the step of a stone seat. We had enough snack food to feed a small army so some of this was shovelled down as we watched the twinkling lights of Middlesbrough in the distance. As we set off again at 03:15, amazingly the first light of dawn had started to streak across the sky and the headtorch was hardly needed, except that I soon after caught my foot in hidden channel on the steep descent from Kirby Bank and fell on my face in a most unladylike fashion! Apart from sore knees, there was no real damage done and we continued to the bottom of the slope keeping a careful eye out for the hidden channels, of which there were many!

Sunrise came up as we headed up towards the Wain Stones. We decided to climb the Stones rather than take the lower path through Broughton Plantation, though we didn’t take them head on but instead contoured the northern bank and then climbed steeply to the top of Hasty Bank. Another steep descent took us down to the lane at Clay Bank by 04:50.

We then had another steep ascent of Carr Ridge to the trig point on Round Hill followed by a slow descent on the wide track to Bloworth Junction where we stopped for our second break at 06:00 where we made only a small further dent in our colossal rations! It soon got very warm so the windproofs finally came off as we walked along the old railway track which ran for about 5½ miles across Farndale and High Blakey Moor. So far we’d seen no-one else though we did see a couple of 4×4 vehicles on this stretch. The only other signs of life were a lot of majestic curlews winging on the breeze with their fantastic curved beaks clearly visible against the sky and a gaggle of tiny grouse chicks scuttling across the moor with their mother.

Not long after we came across an LWW marker sign indicating the short cut to Flat Howe that misses out the Lion Inn. However, as the New Lyke Wake Club website indicates, although some people say this is the correct route, “they are in the minority!” We kept to the known route and emerged on the road just north of the Lion Inn at 08:25.

Ian had a radio gizmo that he had been trying to contact Dad on for the last half hour but with no response. We were meant to meet them for breakfast at the Rosedale Head car park at 08:30 so we were a bit late, but looking ahead to where we thought the car park was situated, it looked like Mum and Dad were late too! This was proved when they passed us shortly after apologising that AA route planner had calculated their journey as 15 minutes less than it actually was! We still had another 10 minutes of road walking to go, so they were able to get to the car park and set up by the time we got there at 08:50. They had a portable gas hob on the go boiling water for porridge pots, but the gas canister ran out almost immediately so they faffed around for a while finding a new one. We were quite happy to flop on the grass while they fussed around us. In the end we were there for nearly an hour, as Ian was turning his map over and I was changing into waterproof socks for the notorious forthcoming ‘boggy section’.

Back on the road at 09:50 we followed the road round the edge of Danby Moor, where we soon saw the ‘Fat Betty’ monument. I’d heard a fair bit about this and had somehow formed the idea that it was very large but it turned out to be disappointingly small and not fat at all!

We passed a second car park and turned off onto the so-called boggy section next to an LWW arrow painted on to the road. As it had been so dry recently the bogs were actually few and far between. The surface was mostly dry, hard and well defined, with intermittent boundary stones, though in misty conditions it could be difficult to follow. After passing the round barrow mound of Shunner Howe, we were seduced into taking the obvious path on the ground which took us to the crossing lane at Hamer 200m south of the correct path at 11:40. We knew this because there was a signpost across the road saying ‘LWW ?200m’! We took a break here and shortly after were approached by a youngish lady in a car who asked if we had seen her blue t-shirt and shorts-clad husband, who was walk/running the LWW. He had started at 6.00 am and she had last seen him at the Lion Inn. We told her we hadn’t seen anyone of that description (or indeed anyone!) since we had started at midnight. In the distance behind us we could see a couple of male walkers who were also on the obvious path from Shunner Howe, but these were clearly older gents. The lady seemed a bit concerned as she had planned to meet her husband here for lunch. She drove off and waited in the parking area by the correct LWW crossing point and we passed her as we turned off the road heading for White Moor.

We looked round a short time later and noticed that she had intercepted the two older gents and was no doubt probing them as to whether or not they had seen her missing hubby. We were glad she had stopped them as we were both desperate for a loo break and wanted to get far enough away to find some cover so that we could take a leak without being spotted!

Further on we could see a large group of people sitting around the Blue Man i’ th’ Moss standing stone. It was hard to work out exactly what they were doing, as they didn’t appear to be having lunch. They all stared at us as we passed. One lady said hello and we asked if they were doing the LWW and she said, no, they had come from the other direction and were going back the same way. With the mystery unsolved (a pilgrimage maybe?) we continued on. We could now see the older gents about 200m behind us having escaped from the lady with the missing husband and the ‘pilgrims’

We were now parallel with Wheeldale plantation, and looking back we noticed a lone man in blue shorts and t-shirt approaching rapidly who was clearly the ‘missing’ husband. He was indeed both running and walking at times. We asked if his wife had found him. He nodded and said he’d now had lunch and a change of clothes. As he passed us he also said now he didn’t have anyone to follow!

We had made pretty good time on this section and were now close to our lunch stop. As we approached the road we met a lone man with a pair of binoculars who had evidently seen Mum and Dad as he told us they were waiting at the road. He asked us if we’d seen a large group of LWW walkers behind us. We said the only group we’d seen were at the Blue Man i’ th’ Moon stone but they weren’t LWW walkers. He said his group had started at 3.00am. Other than the two elderly gents we told him we hadn’t seen anyone else, but he didn’t seem overly concerned.

When we got to the road at 13:45, there were quite a few cars. Mum and Dad had erected a parasol next to the car and were busy producing soup and a sandwich for us. They’d befriended the man waiting for the large group and his companion, an older man, who was definitely more concerned about them than the younger guy. The two elderly gents appeared a short time later, but they hadn’t stopped and continued straight on, as had the runner/jogger husband.

We got our first glimpse of the large group when they arrived about 10 minutes later. There looked to be about 12-15 of them. We had another 11 miles to go from here, and I said to Ian that if we wanted to try and finish before 20:03 (the 20-hour mark), we needed to get away on the last section by 2.30pm. He agreed, and suitably fed and watered, we set off just after that time.

It was a very steep drop down to Wheeldale Beck to the stepping stones with another steep climb up to Howl Moor where we got our first glimpse of Fylingdales radio mast in the distance. We passed Simon Howe barrow on our way across pleasant moorland with a gentle descent down to the A169 towards Eller Beck Bridge. Having crossed the railway line and mounted the opposite bank, we came to a small parking area where we saw the older man in charge of the large group we had seen at lunch. He asked us when we had started from Wheeldale Road and if we had seen his group as they had started this section not long after us. Again, he seemed overly worried about the group but we assured him that they were bound to show up before long.

We walked alongside the very busy A169 for a short distance until the turn-off by Eller Beck Bridge. By now the Fylingdales Mast was just up the hill and the closest we would get to it. The bridleway here was more difficult to follow as it wasn’t initially well-defined. However, we knew that we had to head east along Little Eller Beck rather than the stream branching off south, and the path became better defined as we headed gently uphill, with Lilla Cross, our next destination, visible on the skyline. It got a bit boggier further up the hill at the point we had to turn off to join a track coming up from Lilla Rigg. From there it was only a short distance up to the cross, situated on a raised grassy mound, just perfect for a break (our 6th of the day!) which we reached at 4.40pm. This is an ancient stone memorial to Lilla, a member of King Edwin of Northumbria’s court, who saved the King’s life from an assassin but was unfortunately killed himself (sad story, nice memorial). We had an extended break here as Ian had some business to attend to (which shall remain a secret!), but as we prepared to leave we could see the large group (who had no doubt been greeted by their over-solicitous support leader!) approaching on the track below.

We were not far from the end now, and on the horizon we could see the radio mast near the finishing point at Ravenscar – journey’s end. But first we had to negotiate the rather hard, rocky ground of Fylingdales Moor which was flat to begin with and then gently descending. Behind us we could see the fastest of the large group starting to gain on us, although when we looked again shortly after, they had stopped, presumably having to wait for the slower ones which must have been a bit frustrating for them.

We continued across the moor until we made the very steep descent to Jugger Howe Beck, after which there was an equally steep ascent up the other side, which we found surprisingly easy! The leaders of the group had almost caught us up by this time, but they stopped again before crossing the beck to wait for the rest. When they saw us clambering steeply up the other side one of them called out to us asking if we were doing the LWW and if that was the correct route. When we replied in the affirmative on both counts, he muttered something about going round the side instead, though Ian commented they would have to make a steep ascent eventually. As it happened, we looked back a few minutes later and saw the leaders behind us in the distance, having obviously decided they would do the ascent sooner rather than later!

There was a small car park just before the A171 and, surprise, surprise, there was the group’s over-anxious supervisor waiting with his van! Before he had time to ask, we informed him that some of his group were not far behind, though some were faster than others. He grunted in assent, and then when the leaders appeared, he transferred his attention totally to them.

It was now around 18:55. With about 2km to go I thought we could just make it to the trig point by 19:33, if we pushed it, which would be a total time of 19.5 hours. Ian seemed more interested in trying to get his map back into his map case. I got a bit impatient as it was taking too long. He was obviously getting fed up with me because he said he knew I was waiting for him, but if the map won’t go in, it won’t go in! Fortunately it didn’t take much longer, and we crossed the road onto Stony Marl Moor with only a slow uphill gradient on a pleasant grassy path between us and the finish.

The weather looked to be taking a turn for the worse as the radio mast ahead kept disappearing in mist and the wind got up again. Not far from the end we could see someone on the path ahead pointing to his left, presumably towards the trig point which was just off the main path. We wondered if this might be Dad, and Ian got his radio out to ring him. This time Dad answered pretty promptly and we told him we would be finishing very shortly. As we approached, it was clear that the person gesticulating at the trig point was the group supervisor (yet again!) and this was for the benefit of his group, not us! Dad was actually standing next to him grinning broadly. Just a few more seconds and we turned off to the trig point and touched its top at exactly 19:33, giving a total time of 19.5 hours. Success!

All that now remained was for us to congratulate the first members of the group to arrive very soon after us and go off for a quick cup of tea brewed up by Mum and Dad before setting off for home, tired out but exhilarated after a fantastic experience that we will always remember.

The 9 things I learned on the Lyke Wake Walk

I wish to report a successful crossing on 27 May, 2017, undertaken with three companions Fiona Stewart, Steven Darbyshire and Kate G. I was unacquainted with all three until very recently. Fiona and Kate I had met a handful of times, through a friend of a friend, but I had never clapped eyes on Steven until the evening prior to our crossing. I was therefore wandering about the moors in the middle of the night in the company of virtual strangers.
So you will understand my relief at making it safely to my final destination.

Fiona and Steven completed an earlier crossing about a year ago and, for some unfathomable reason, wanted to do it again. Kate and I were first timers. Our support driver Leslie McKitterick, who thankfully I have known for many years, dropped us off for a 2.24am kick-off at the Lyke Wake Stone just outside Osmotherley. We kissed the last stone at Beacon Howes at 8.22pm, giving us a total time of 17 hours and 58 minutes. With stoppages for vegetarian sausage casserole at the Lion, coffee and lemon cake at Hamer
and a bowl of Scotch Broth, also in vegetarian format, at Eller Beck, plus assorted breaks for the purposes of changing socks and powdering noses, We estimate our total walking time to be 15 hours, 58 minutes.

At 52, I am almost the oldest in the group, though not necessarily the wisest. Trust me, however, when I say that I am now far the wiser for having walked the 40 miles of the Lyke Wake Walk. It was an enriching experience that has taught me some valuable lessons in life. Here, by way of my report, are the nine things I learned on the Lyke Wake Walk.

1. The early morning should be cherished
We had a spring in our step as we headed out into the dark of night with our head torches to guide us. Those first miles as we romped through Cringle Moor and up along the hilltops with the sun beginning to rise, the sheep stirring and night slowly turning into day were simply magical. We could see the world from those peaks and for those precious moments it all belonged to us. We resolved to go out early more often.

2. Take one bit at a time
But the magic soon turned to dust. A long five mile section of an old railway line awaited. The sun shone brightly and the skies were a glorious blue but, otherwise, this trudge along an interminable dusty track was tough and there were still so, so many miles to go. Kate and I decided early on our strategy was to forget the silly notion of 40 miles and take one section at a time. It paid off. We stayed focused on our sausage casserole which awaited at the Lion
Inn and we were there in no time. Later we kept our spirits high with the prospect of cake. Even a promised change of sock in four miles time was just tantalising enough to make it a little further. When it came to the last two miles, the longest two miles of our lives, Kate confessed it was the thought of slipping on her fluffy pink slippers that got her through.

3. The right support is vital
No, this is not about how I wore the wrong bra. This is about Leslie our wonder woman of a driver. Three times she met us, each time with arms outstretched, a smile on her face and hot home-made food that nourished both body and soul. We couldn’t have done it without her. We met a chap crossing in the other direction who cut a cheery figure as he skipped across the moor. Turns out he likewise had a great support behind him, Julie, with whom Leslie compared notes as she waited for us at Hamer. Julie was something of an expert as her husband Gerry had crossed an astonishing 209 times. I cannot ever, under any circumstances, imagine doing the Lyke
Wake Walk without a Leslie or a Julie.

4. Never become complacent (particularly in the boggy section of the Lyke Wake Walk) Ah yes the boggy section. I thought I had proven those doom merchants wrong as we bounced across the bogs with no sign of anything more than the odd puddle way over yonder. Until I stepped into a bog and sank. And then sank a little further, and then further still until the mud reached my thighs and
held me there in its filthy grip. Apparently it was very funny if you weren’t me. But it’s no laughing matter really being stuck in a bog and then having to walk nearly 20 miles caked in mud. Beware the bogs; they sneak up on the complacent.

5. Keep calm and check where you’re going
Fylingdales has clearly been put there around mile 33 to disorientate and exasperate. Well it succeeded. It’s marshy and pathless and makes no sense. But we had map apps and a compass, and we had Fiona and Steven who remembered this section’s wily ways. We kept calm, checked our maps regularly and stuck close to the route Fiona had carefully plotted beforehand. And slowly we picked our way through and up on to a stony road that led us
out of this wilderness. Oh the relief.

6. You are always stronger than you think
The Lyke Wake Walk is spectacular in places. It is nature in all its glory as you cross the vast moors in the sun and wind with nothing but the flap of the odd grouse and the cry of the curlew above. But it is also long and empty and there are stretches you think will never end, particularly the miles between Lilla Howe and Jugger Howe where the path is rocky and hostile. The sun had earlier turned to thunder and torrential rain and now settled to a miserable drizzle. Fiona, who had taken a tumble, sported a grazed cheek and suspected sprained wrist. Kate had sunburn on her neck, Steven shin
splits. I was muddy and sore. Dig deep I told myself, dig deep. And somehow I did. Somehow, Fiona, Steven, Kate and I, each of us, dug deep.

7. Ups and downs are no bad thing
Jugger Howe ravine appeared around mile 37. It drops down steeply and then climbs even more steeply up a stony staircase. It is clearly designed to scare the bejesus out of you but actually it makes a welcome change from the trudge and drudge of rough, flat paths. Which just goes to show the ups and downs of life are no bad thing.

8. Believe what you need to believe
Steven said a mast we could see in the distance was the end of the walk. Fiona said it was too far away to be the end. I am glad I believed Fiona because right then it looked as far away as my home town of Aberdeen. Steven was right. The mast we saw was the end. And I walked all the way there believing the real end was much closer.

9. Pink is a wonderful colour
The t-shirt Fiona, an artist, designed and gave me as a souvenir of our Lyke Wake Walk adventure 2017 is pink. It is a beautiful garment. But it is more than that. It talks to me of the day I woke up early, went out in the darkness for a walk and finished 17 hours and 58 minutes later with one glass of Bolly in my hand, three new friends and 40 miles of memories that I will carry with me to the grave.

Yvonne Flynn


Memories (though not very many of them) of 1976.

Well, Karen has challenged me to write this, and, let me tell you, when you’ve been challenged by Karen you know you’ve been challenged.

I’ve no idea why we decided to do the walk. I mean, we all worked, in various roles, for Barnsley Council at the time, so you’d have thought that was sufficient excitement for anyone. Who were we? Well, there were Phil and Glyn and Stewart and me, John. Oh, and Gil. Or perhaps not Gil. I forget. Certainly a few others. My memory isn’t what it was. Or I assume it isn’t, though I can’t actually remember what it was.

I don’t think any of us were particularly experienced walkers. I certainly wasn’t, though I had been a boy scout. But although I’d done the hiking and fell-walking, naturally, I’d preferred the lying in a sleeping bag waiting for someone to light the fire and make breakfast. Anyway, we decided to do the walk. The weather wasn’t going to be a problem. Remember, this was the long hot drought of 1976. I suppose I’ll need to dredge up a few facts about what happened or this will scarcely constitute a report. I know we camped somewhere near the start, and 4.00 a.m. found me
exercising my well-practised sleeping bag/breakfast skills. And I remember setting off, full of enthusiasm; and finishing, less so. In between? Well, it was hot; and the moors were tinder dry; and the support vehicles grew ever more welcome and, probably, tempting at every road crossing. But since I’d spotted my first ring ouzel fairly early in the walk, I kept going, hoping for other exotic wildlife.

We quickly became spread out. The really keen and irritating strode on ahead, no doubt feeling superior. The disreputable straggled behind, making, I believe, ribald comments about the really keen and irritating. Stewart and I, and one or two others, bumbled along in the middle. I know we were enjoying ourselves. We even enjoyed the walking most of the way. I think it was The Ravine which put that most in danger. We’d been warned about The Ravine. I’m not sure, but I assume its official name is Jugger Howe Beck and it rises up to hit you (or, strictly, drops down) too near the end of the walk to be an acceptable practical joke. In those days (as I recall, but I may be wrong) no-one had installed the current namby-pamby steps. You either rolled, slid or fell down one side, then got out the ropes, crampons and ice-axes (all of which we’d forgotten) to get up the other. After that a sort of protesting fatigue made it impossible to lift the feet high enough to clear the tussocky grass we were walking through, so at every other step one blistered foot or the other collided painfully with something unyielding, giving rise to a staccato chorus of increasingly unprintable invective. I learned a few new words, which was nice. I can also report that the road into Ravenscar, which is supposed, I believe, to be not much over a mile, is considerably further. Or, at any rate, while we were walking along it, for every couple of hundred yards we covered someone added another half mile or so onto the end.

Queuing to sign the book was interesting. I think it was kept in a shop, but can’t recall. I certainly couldn’t find the place when I visited Ravenscar again last year. A few people were boasting about how quickly they’d done it, much in the manner of fishermen comparing the size of their latest catch. I’m sure I recall one bloke saying it had taken him half an hour, but that’s probably a false memory. One was definitely concerned about the length of the queue, as his twenty-four hours was nearly up, so he said. Stewart and I had taken around fifteen hours – a frankly boring time, not worth boasting about either way. Odd thing is I don’t remember finishing up in the bar of the Ravenscar Hotel, or, indeed, any convenient bar, but it’;s difficult to believe that we didn’t.