Crossing Report – 7/8 July, solo and unsupported Claire Chapman

When my husband Tom decided to enter the Lyke Wake Challenge race with our usual partner in crime Dave Allen, I must admit to a bit of jealousy – I only started running in April this year and so am nowhere near that kind of challenge. But having done 20 crossings (walking, the last one just a week before this!) I thought maybe this would be the perfect opportunity to attempt a solo. After all, there would be loads of runners about and people at support stops should I get into trouble.
Tom and Dave dropped me off at the start stone near Osmotherley at 9.45pm and headed back to Dave’s for some much-needed sleep. It was still light and I felt great. Until I descended into the trees and it got dark. At that point, I really questioned what on earth I was doing, I don’t have the best sense of direction and I watch far too many horror films! Passing some walkers going in the opposite direction and then a couple having a massive drunken argument at Lord Stones, I felt more confident – I was still alive!
The disused railway track felt shorter than usual, and I was even able to give some directions to some first-timers. Passing them, I had a real spring in my step as I got onto Flat Howe. Luckily I had my GPS with me (how did anyone cope without these magical devices?) as I was aware that the path seems to appear then completely vanish! The sun came up and the views across the moors were amazing.
I always like the road for a bit of variation in terrain and before I knew it I was on to the boggy section. Having crossed just a week ago, knew it would be a little bit damp but not as horrendous as I have seen it, and despite a little variation off the path, I reached Shunner Howe with no difficulty. Eating breakfast there with the sun shining and the grouse warbling was delightful. Being completely alone with not a soul in sight felt utterly uplifting and, I have to say, spiritually fulfilling.
I pressed on over the next section towards Blue Man I’ the Moss, passing him with no slowing, but the slog to Hamer Road felt utterly horrible. Loads of puddles and kicking every rock beneath my feet led me to utter several expletives to, well, no-one. I was even pleased to have the descent down to Wheeldale Beck and back up to Simon Howe. Here, I admired the view again, and enjoyed the sunshine for a while.
On I pressed to my next goal, Lilla Cross. I love it there, and Eller Beck didn’t give me too much of a challenge. I passed a lovely old farmer repairing his fence at Fylingdales who told me all about the different strains of sheep in the area.
Lilla Cross always marks the ‘you’re nearly there’ point for me, and with this in mind I felt really good. I had a fabulous conversation with the bees buzzing round the beautiful purple heather on the way to Jugger Howe, and even enjoyed going down and up (I usually hate that bit!)
Crossing the A171, I felt amazing! The last walk up to the mast and the finishing stone was much quicker than it usually seems. Solo, unsupported crossing done in 14 ½ hours! I must have been quicker than anticipated as I didn’t see any runners or supports.
I then drove down to Raven Hall Hotel to await the arrival of Tom, Dave, and a couple of other runners from the Quakers Running Club. I had plenty of time to have a cold drink and enjoy the views. At the finish line, I was delighted to see Gerry Orchard finish accompanied by the ever-supportive Julie. We sat chatting in the grass before Tom arrived in the excellent time of 9 hours 9 minutes, Dave not long behind and then the Quaker lads. As we drove off back towards Osmotherley, we passed the amazing Nick Carter, having completed his 30th Lyke Wake Challenge in 30 years. Awe inspiring.
I never tire of this walk. It’s one of the most life affirming and confidence building experiences I can think of. I might even do the challenge race next year if my running improves sufficiently! See you again soon LWW!