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.