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!