Crossing report for Becca and Andy White, Tracey Jinks and Andy Mitchell, 1st July 2017.

Thank you for a wonderful walk.

Here is the crossing report for Becca and Andy White, Tracey Jinks and Andy Mitchell made on 1st July 2017.

It all started out as such a good idea.  We travelled up from Gosport to recapture Andy’s youth; brought up on the Moors he was the only one of us who has previous attempted the Walk, let alone completed it.  Nerves started to set in when we dropped off one of the cars in Ravenscar the night before.  It was still early in the evening but visibility was terrible, down to about ten metres and the warnings of changeable weather proved to be accurate.  The car journey to our hotel in Northallerton seemed to take an age and we got our first view of the climbs we would be attempting in the morning. Had a lovely meal in the Golden Lion Hotel where we started to discuss the following day and decided to have a peek on the forums for any recent tips or comments on the boggy bit.  After reading them we decided to make our start time even earlier – now 04:30. After a few hours’ sleep (Northallerton High street is not the quietest place on a Friday night) we arrived at a full car park at Cod Beck Reservoir. Parked up in the next one and got ready to begin our epic trek.

Start photos were taken at the stone and then we headed on up the road at 04:35 waving goodbye to the car as it disappeared from view, wondering how long it would be before we would see it again. After a few nervous minutes of getting to grips with the scales of the maps/GPSr we eventually found a well-marked Cleveland Way and got going on the path.

A pleasant first few miles walking through the woods had Becca trying to teach Andy M some basic woodlore.  We passed the memorial to Bill Cowley and thanked him for a lovely day so far.  5.7 miles in we had our first climb out of the way and we had the first pit stop at Lordstones which was sadly shut as we were so early, even the toilets, which had been an unexpectedly welcome sight.  The day was warming up, layers were stripped and feet attended to. We set off again over the crags but the visibility was poor and we felt like we were missing out on some beautiful views.  At the bottom of the following ‘up and over’ we decided we had had enough of short stabby steps up and down the ‘staircases’ and went for a pleasant stroll through the woods.

The next stop was after 9.7 miles as we got to the beginning of the relatively flat bit at the top of the Walk.  We met a few other walkers here, some doing the coast-to-coast and a couple of brothers overtaking us on the LWW.  We soon set off again and as we waved goodbye to the Cleveland Way we joined the dismantled railway and got lots of local knowledge from Andy W.  There were differing views on the dismantled railway path: those of us with GPSr and waypoints could see where we were heading and felt like we were getting somewhere; those without felt it went on and on expecting every corner to be the last; then there were some that were enjoying the lovely flat path where we didn’t have to check every footstep.

The sun was out now and we were fast approaching our decision point: do we go to the pub?  A unanimous “We’re not walking further than we have to!” meant we left the path and followed the LWW marker over to the road.  We had our next stop here 17.3 miles in and took lunch, tea and a pork pie from Castle Howard for some.  After a bit more foot care we set off again wondering what we will find in the boggy bit.  Half an hour later we found out as we started to follow the boundary markers. Two approaches were taken here, one went for sandals, one went for pocket wellies.  Both were very happy with their decisions.  And for some the boggy bit was the favourite part of the walk. It wasn’t as bad as we feared but kudos to anyone who attempts this in the dark.

Another break was had on Shunner Howe at 22.1 miles.  Some more messing about with shoes was done here as we thought this was the end of the boggy bit.  It was the end of the worse of it but it carried on in parts for another six miles (it finishes at Simon Howe, not Shunner Howe).

We now came to the final lumpy bits.  It was very exciting when we got to the stepping stones at Wheeldale Beck – it looks just like it does on the YouTube.  A slog over the hill and we made it to our next and final stop at the tracks (30 miles in).  We assumed that the last train had gone by, it was 18:15.  And so a little horror was felt when the whistle was heard a few minutes after a comfort break was had near the line.

There was a navigation fail at Eller Beck by Andy M.  The marked map showed a route to the north of Beck and an unnecessary and unwanted few hundred metres was added to the walk.  After another map consultation, we followed the beck to find a crossing point of Eller Beck.  Those of us with longer legs managed to find it.  The shorter two had to be caught as they jumped the water on some very tired legs.

The final leg now.  The mast came into view as we past the cross and morale was lifted.  The final steep steps down and up to cross Jugger Howe Beck seemed a little cruel, especially the down on some aching knees, but we are now only a couple of miles away from the end and collapsing.  It was a steady gradient up to the end.  We watched a beautiful sunset and after 38.5 miles and 17h 22mins at 9.59pm just as the last light was fading we were done.

The I Spy book purchased the day before was accidentally left in the hotel so now we had to play the list game: “The four of us went on a walk across the North York Moors and we saw: alder, elder, sycamore, oak, willow, green beetles, dragonfly, millipedes, wasps, caterpillars, spiders, bees, frog, toad, butterflies, moths, bunnies, sheep, cows, a goose, lapwing, gulls, crows, robin, chaffinch, and vibrant purple heather.”

We had the post-walk photos at the stone and then headed back to the car.  As we approached we heard an alarm and feared the worst.  Andy W ran down to the car to find that the alarm was somewhere else. Now to see if the legs work well enough to drive.  Driving back to the reservoir to pick up the other car we saw the silhouettes of the climbs from that morning and it felt like an eternity ago.

In summary, we were very lucky with the conditions but still, we set off at dawn and finished at dusk on the longest weekend day of the year.  The weather was ideal, overcast at the beginning with a refreshing tailwind at the end.  The day before had atrocious visibility and the day after was very hot.