Crossing Report – Chateau d’Osmotherley, July 2017. Ian Evans

(subtitle – ‘When I wurr a lad’) Otherwise being a report of a dirge over the ‘Full Classic’, July 2017 (with apologies to Monty Python, Rowan Atkinson, et al., vis: )

INTRODUCTION – The scene is set: on a Balmy Night at a local hostelry in far flung Blakamore, four old time Dirgers meet and exchange greetings -….. Nah then, nah then? …. Aar’s tha binn? …Hey up! … Good ter si’ thi’! … etc., etc. – then they sit down to relax and reminisce:
Obediah : Theh dun’t knaw they’re born these days, do theh? Well, jus’ becozz them fond yoothz sees uzz awdtimers sitting here at this ‘ere Wake in ower Sunday best, supping a fine vintage o’ Chateau d’Osmotherley, dun’t meeann wi dun’t knaw t‘ troo meanin’ o’ dirgin’.
Isiah: Aye, t’troo meanin’ o’ dirgin. Ah tell thi, when we wurr lads it were nowt but t’ Full Classic foruzz.
Jeremiah: Aye, nowt but t’Full Classic.
Obediah: Nah’days nunn of ‘em sets off abaht a seppoort party to cater to theer ivvery whim. Aye, it’s all, bacon sarnies at Looards Stooans, ….
Gessiah: ….. an’ foot massages at Old Margery….
Obediah: ….. an’ a la carte dining at Hamer ….
Gessiah: …’ aromatherapy at Ellerbeck …
Obediah: …’ nooah doubt, paramedics, BUPA an’ bottled oxygen at Beacon Howes.
Isiah: Aye. An’ Ah expect the’ll hev escalators at t’Jugger Howe Ravine affooer long!
Gessiah: Aye, booeth daan an’ up an’all, Ah expect.
Isiah: Aye, happen!
Jeremiah: Aye, happen as not!
Obediah: Aye, happenn as not an’ like as maybe!
Isiah: Aye, happenn as not an’ like as maybe tha’s reyt!
Jeremiah: Seppoort party?!! Seppoort party?!! In mah day, thurr wurr non o’ that namby, pamby nonsense. Ivvery thing wi ‘edd worr carried on arr owen backs. Arr owen backs I tell thi’! Wi trekked ower top on oil them theer Clivvland Hills, throo all t’mirk & miyer wi’ no’butt a smyell on arr faces an’ t’usual four hun’erd weight haversack on arr backs.
Gessiah: An’ nooah short cuts eether. Nunn o’ that Lyke Wake Stooan rigmarole. Wi’ hedd ter slog all t’way up tu’ t’Trig Point ter start. Two miles up hill, vertical mind, affooer wi’d even started. That theer Bill Cowley, he wurr nivver arraand but hi’d knaw if tha’ cheeated.
Obediah: Aye, hi’d knaw.
Jeremiah: An’ wi set off wi’ no’butt a smyell on arr faces an’ clogs on arr feeat.
Gessiah: An’ we did all on it wi’ nowt but a canteen o’ beck watter an’ two cheese sarnies.
Obediah: An thurr wurr nunn o’ them gentle, guidin’ Clivvland Way paavin’ stooans. No, it wurr mudd, murk an’ miyer all t’way fra start ter t’end. It wurr t’Full Classic an’all – gooin’ ower top of ivvery hill, nunn o’ that eezi peezi Miners Track, nooah Lion Inn, nooah strewellin’ along t’tarmac at Roezdayle Heead – nunn o’ that. Wi’d leeave t’railway track at t’ pieyell o’ lime, strayt daan ter bowels o’ Hell, also knu’ern as t’Esklets, and then straat back up ter t’Owd Margery. Frum theer it wurr baandry stooans all t’way ter Ellerbeck. Then wi hedd ter skip ower t’unexpoded bombs and dodge t’military police to get ter Lilla afooer thrashing on to t’Ravenhall Hotel.
Jeremiah: An’ that there Bill Cowley what’d he think? All he ivver sedd wurr ‘Gi’ thissen a week an’ thay’ll be reyt to do it aggeeann’.
Isiah: A’ve bin listening to all that an’ Ah think yaw lot must ‘a hedd it easy. When wi went off ter dirge, wi’d wait fo’ wust weather. Wind an’ rain? – nowt. Wi’d wait till it wurr rainin’ n‘ sleetin sidewards, fra’ all four directions, mixed in wi’ bizzards ‘n hail-stooans. Wi dirgin’ weather just reyt, wi’d get up two hours afoower we went ter bed, set off barefoot an’ backards, stridin’ throo thickest & tallest heather in t’ oil uh Yorksheer, chooisin’ t’ path thruff thorniest thorns, ower steeapist hills n’ ruffest rocks, wadin’ thru’ ‘undred fathum deeap becks an’ gills, an’ snorklin’ thruff fiercist & deeapist bogs. On Fylingdales wi’d ignore t’red flag sooas wi could play hide & seeak wi t’Red Caps and hopscotch on t’minefields. An’ when we got t’ Ravenscar arr Dad would make us dance on broken glass, just furr fun, affoor he made us run bihind t’car all t’60 miles ‘til we got hooem. Then wi hedd a rub daan wi’ a wet flannel, eat an handful o’ cowd gravel an’ it wurr straight off ter wukk foruzz, furr a short twenty-five hower shift, if wi wurr lucky!
Jeremiah: An’ if yerr try telling t’ young foak that terday theh wun’t believe yerr!
All: Aye, that’s troo, reyt enuff.

and so, fast forward to July 2017……………
So in an attempt to replicate the glories of teenage dirging of yester year, I attempted to cross in the style of days gone for no other reason than to remind myself how tough this walk used to be. None of this namby, pamby Lyke Wake Stone business for me, no sir, daft as a brush I set off uphill from Osmotherley (as we used to) to the Trig Point on Scarth Wood Moor to start – 983 glorious feet above sea level and close to 2 miles walk uphill from Ossie. Having (unnecessarily!?!) walked up to the ‘old’ start, I set off toward the Cleveland Hills frontline visible ahead. In days of yore, between Cringle & Carlton Moors, there was only a bleak, shelterless, windswept col before the emergence of the tall confers and the Lords Stones emporium. It seems that the normal modus operandi these days is to follow the Miners Track around the faces of Cringle Moor, Cold Moor, and Hasty Bank, but resorting to the masochism of yesteryear I slogged over all three summits, admittedly using the now paved Cleveland Way/Coast to Coast track. As I progressed along the railway I reached the ‘pile of lime’, an historic Lyke Wake landmark now barely visible adjacent to the railway where the stone, white-lettered, ‘Esklets’ sign is. Sticking to the ‘Full Classic’ plan and ignoring all good sense, I descended sharply towards the old Esklet ruins secluded at the bottom of Westerdale by following the line of shooting butts and from the bottom immediately turned eastwards again to ascend through the crags back to the moor top and the track direct to Old Margery. In the good old days this ‘detour’ was introduced to avoid disturbance of nesting grouse around South Flat Howe.
From Old Margery the Full Classic doesn’t use the tarmac at all except where crossing the road. I stuck to the parish boundary on the direct path across the heather to Fat Betty and then followed the boundary stones across Rosedale Head to Loose Howe – this actually proved to be just about the toughest part of the whole process as it was now dark and there is no path as such – nobody goes that way these days as everybody succumbs to the seductive lure of the easy going on the tarmac all the way from the Lion Inn to the Millennium Stone. Additionally the drainage channels that have been cut into the peat hereabouts lie athwart the Lyke Wake route & in the moonless gloom these are unfortunately quite easy to stumble into. I managed to employ quite a bit of Anglo-Saxon phraseology on this bit describing to myself the stupidity of doing a 40 mile walk (a fair proportion of it in the dark) and deliberately choosing not to do it the most straightforward way.
The younger generation might be surprised to learn but the Rosedale Moor bogs are not as terrifying as they used to be – it was normal to go at least knee deep numerous times between Loose Howe & Shunner Howe but in the drier climes of more recent years it is usual, on a summer crossing at least, to get through without getting too wet. From Hamer much of the rest progressed as it was ‘way back when’. Wheeldale Moor has not recovered from the punishment doled out by passage of half a million boots to the same extent that Rosedale Moor has. The mixture of soft and rocky ground is as tiring as it ever was. The section from Ellerbeck to the military gravel track is actually wetter and squidgier than it used to be. Way back I always used try and avoid intersecting the military gravel track until I’d got most of the way to Lilla; the EWS fence used to run adjacent to this track & the threatening MoD signs hear about used to unnerve the teenage me & I was always expecting an uncomfortable encounter with the Military Police (though that never happened).
The final bits of experience from days of yore that I indulged in were to jump across Jugger Howe Beck (there was no foot bridge in the 70’s) and after reaching Beacon Howes plodded onwards the further mile & a bit to Ravenscar to finish outside the Raven Hall Hotel.
Conclusion – Yep, it really was ‘tuffer wenn arr wurr a lad’!!! (even though this July 2017 dirge took me 6 hours longer than it would have done in the 70s).

17 hours total but spent around 2 hrs in Lion with Thomas having a meal so I suppose 15hrs walking

[Any problems understanding the 1st bit, try Google translate.]

Crossing – 16th September 2017.

Having now recovered from all my aches and pains, I am now in a position to report my successful crossing on 16th September 2017.

I’ve wanted to do this walk for a while now, and 2 weeks previously I had attempted it with my 15 year old daughter, in glorious weather, fantastic views, decent temperatures, no rain etc…unfortunately around the 30 mile mark we had to admit defeat as her training, consisting of one 20 mile walk combined with teenage invincibleness, and a week of watching game of thrones didn’t pay off! So a rather expensive taxi ride later, I was back to planning to do it solo again. I do, however have a small amount of sense and realise that if we only saw 4 people on a glorious day in 30 miles then doing it on my own really wasn’t my best plan, so I jumped on the organised trip bandwagon.

Two weeks later, and I am parked up in a pitch black Osmotherley, wrestling with my bootlaces in the confines of the car awaiting a minibus. I soon joined the other 14 people on this quest, and at 1am after the customary smiley pics next to the stone, we set off, fully waterproofed up, into the dark. I don’t recall a massive part of the first 10 miles as it was dark, very rainy and during the steep descents, an effort to stay upright. Luckily I have my previous memories of the glorious views from the attempt a couple of weeks ago. Upon arrival at checkpoint 2, the soup was a welcome warm up, and a change of socks and a bit of respite from the rain in the bus, most appreciated. At this point my feet were still just damp….this was not going to last in these conditions! Back on the trail, and it’s still dark, as the light began to emerge, I turned the head torch off and relied on the little natural light around to avoid the puddles (god knows why as I’m soaked to the skin now!) As the full sunrise hit us, we were on the long trek toward the Lion, some lovely views across here in between showers and it was great to have some moments without the rain. I managed to sneak in front for a few minutes too!! Then we turned off the railway, this was a new path for me as last time I fell into the “lets have a drink in the Lion” trap… This bit was hard going, pretty boggy and the path was hard to find in places, we soon reached the road though, and I’ve never been so glad to see two blokes in a white van in my life! The beans and sausages were most welcome, I debated another sock change but I was too cold and I knew there was bog to come. After the feed, we set back off up the road past fat betty and then onto the bog. Last time I was here it was far worse…probably because I didn’t want to get my feet wet, this time they couldn’t have actually got much wetter so it was a saunter through whatever was in the way! By this point I was one of the back markers, but the company was good and I don’t think we were massively behind. Once at Wheeldale road I knew that I was going to make it, I’d got this far before, no way was I going to fail it again. Now came the small issue of Wheeldale beck….we all went down to be faced by a raging torrent and the stones, well under water. A 3 mile detour to the ford and through the forest before rejoining the path to Simon Howe began, I think this was one of the hardest parts as we all knew it was extra milage, the terrain heading to the ford had twisted my knee and brought up a previous injury, and we were all soaked still. We did however, eventually emerge back onto the route and soon were over the crest of Simon Howe and Fylingdales was in sight…but still rather small on the horizon! We slowly trudged our way to Ellerbeck where some members were more broken than others, but after a regroup, some drug injestion, and a bowl of stew ( I may have remarked that it looked like dogfood, but at the time it was the most delicious thing I have ever tasted!) and pockets filled with sugary stuff, we all headed off on the final push. This part wasn’t too bad, I was tired but I’d gone through the barrier and it was just a case of plodding on to the end now, the views were great along here too which always helps, a few showers hit us again, but at least it wasn’t cold. Once past Lilla Cross I was on new territory again, Juggerhowe beck was picturesque although not appreciated fully at the time, I’m sure I had several stops while ascending the other side. Time for a quick cherry bakewell and some water at the last checkpoint then onto the finish. I rediscovered my mojo on this last 2 mile section and my speed increased dramatically, catching up the person in front and having some company again for the final few hundred metres. Once almost upon the finish stone, it was good to hear the cheer from the folk that had already finished, and to finally get into some dry clothes! Amazingly I had no blisters, yet I have the strangest friction burn from my knee support!

In the end I walked 42.6 miles in 18 hours and 11 minutes.

Thanks to Brian Smailes and his crew for their constant support along the way, I know I have the physical and mental ability to do this on a good day, but I’m pretty certain that under these conditions I’d have given up way before the end (in fact I’d probably not have left home really!)

Crossing Saturday 02/09/17 – Sunday 03/09/17

The Lyke Wake walk. East West route Ravenscar to
Osmotherly. Distance 42 miles, time 18 hours.

Richard Gunn. : Distribution and Self Service (organizer)
Rob Gunn. : ATM Delivery
Adrian Butterworth, ATM Delivery
Shaunne Hildred Zlotowski, ATM Delivery
John Paul Blackwell: Contractor
Steve Brown: ATM Delivery
Support Driver Tom Williamson: Distribution and Self Service

Walk to raise money for Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice.
The Hospice supports children with life shortening conditions and their families in West Yorkshire.
They support children and families in many different ways to make their lives
just a little bit easier. From offering respite to hydrotherapy, music therapy,
neonatal care, counselling or bereavement support; their care team supports the whole family both at their purpose built hospice in Huddersfield as well in
families own homes. We managed to raise £2,200 in sponsorship; with more to come in our Total will be over £5,000

We set of from Ravenscar beacon at around 23:40 Saturday and soon found ourselves off track. A quick correction and a fall into a hole jarring my back and we were away. Navigating across moorland and heather in the dark is no mean fete, but after several route corrections and sinking up to my knees in the marl, when crossing Stoney Marl, Moor. We carried on to Jugger Howes, and then after finding Lilla Howe cross in the dark, we eventually arrived at checkpoint 1. Eller Beck Bridge where Tom and the support vehicle was ready and waiting.

A quick bite to eat a change of socks and a dusting of talc, away we
went crossing Howl and Wheeldale Moor, Wheeldale Beck ravine and
the Roman road which we totally missed in the dark. We met up with Tom again on the Wheeldale road, by this time about 14 miles into the walk the injuries were starting to tell, and I was starting to doubt my ability to finish the walk, groin strain and old age was starting to tell. After a foot inspection and more Talc, we set off again on what was probably the worst stretch of the walk, over endless heather passing Blue Man- i- th Moss, stone. we were then onto endless bog, meeting up with Tom again at checkpoint 3 Hamer.
Re-supplied fed and watered administering to sore feet and blisters, we were of again over even worse endless bog, by which time we were hurting bad, John Paul was suffering from some of the worst blisters I’d seen in a long time, but we pushed on bravely to meet up with Tom at checkpoint 4, Rosedale head, with a direct view across the Rose Dale head to The Lion Inn at Blakey. Once we got to that point we would be over half way, and no turning back. Another foot check clean dry socks and a change of footwear we set off into a chill biting wind.
At this point, Tom set off and met up with us at the Fat Betty (White Cross) stone for an unscheduled stop and cups of tea. Brilliant, he was suddenly my new best friend.
Off again on probably the longest un-interrupted stretch of the walk, following the old railway line over High Blakey Moor and Farndale Moor to Bloworth Crossing. The line seemed to go on forever but at least we were now seeing other walkers coming the other way.
Leaving the line, climbing over Round Hill, our first real hill, and then a long descent down Urra Moor to Hasty Bank meeting up with Tom our trusty support. Only 9.5 miles left to do. 5 miles over Kirby Bank to the next checkpoint at Lordstones cafe, for another well-earned cup of tea. At this point we met up with Richard’s Family.
John, Richard and Robs Dad, accompanied us over the last 4.5 miles, passing through Huthwaite Green and Clain wood which included a heart-breaking accent up a very steep hill before reaching the cattle grid and road towards the finish.
By this time even Shaunne had lost her cheerful smile. The last few hundred yards to the car park and the end was in sight, or so we though. No, the LWW finish/Start stone was further on at the next car park. There was Tom our trusty support, waiting at the finish post with a bottle of champagne. We’d done it. No one had dropped out, even though they must have thought about it. Blisters, groin strain aching legs and feet, but most of all shear guts and determination. Hearty congratulations all round.
Well done to Richard Gunn. Rob Gunn. Adrian Butterworth, Shaunne Hildred Zlotowski, John Paul Blackwell, and me.
Not forgetting Tom Williamson, for doing a sterling job in support.

Yours sincerely
Mr. Stephen Brown