Lyke Wake Walk Report 5-6th May 2018

Cometh the hour, cometh the man or in our case men …cometh the 20th hour of walking and said men were nearly a goneth!
Whilst physically ranging from late 30’s to mid 60’s, upon getting together beforehand it was apparent the mental age averaged out a lot younger, in a good way.
The 7 men arrived, pensive but excited, up to their ears in gear, some old and trusty, some new and barely used, the gear that is, not the men.
At 20:00 hours the obligatory “before” photo was taken, and the outwardly calm smiles could barely hide the enormity of the task ahead. 40 miles of which some of us knew the first half but no-one really knew the second bar the more “experienced” member of the group, who did the walk back in ’76. Given this was predominantly a walk through natural landscapes it should look pretty much the same as ’76 we thought.

Lesson 1: Use up to date maps; during the practice walk slight disorientation occurred when we were expecting fields and markers and instead were met with woodlands that weren’t meant to be there!
Upon climbing the umpteenth hill the second lesson was learned, SLOW DOWN we had set off at quite a yomp and whilst this felt like real progress was being made, we became acutely aware that once the jam sandwiches and pre-walk liquid calories had worn off we would be somewhat lacking in the required oomph to continue at such an athletic pace and given that between us we represented every shape of athlete from sprinter to power lifter we would pay the ultimate humiliation of a phone call to the “support” team (Wives) and the indignity of hearing the immortal phrase “I told you, you’re all mad! I don’t know why you do these things in the first place! …I’ll be there in an hour”.

In order to maintain temporary hero status in our children and grandchildren’s eyes we were determined to complete the jaunt on our terms and at a somewhat more sedentary pace.
As we made our way across the moors, conversation flowed and miles went by. The darkness closed in and the tranquillity of the evening took hold. Until the 3rd lesson was learned.

As we marched along the old rail track we heard a loud thud and weary groan. A new problem that would not have existed in ’76 occurred, mobile phones. The mindfulness state of walking had lured one of the team into following the sound of marching feet whilst fully engaged in electronic communications with base camp. The thud we heard was a body slam of human versus metal gate!
The wildlife varied as the hours passed, the evening chorus slowed down and small millipedes made their presence known, looking like a low budget 70’s horror invasion flick as they strewn the paths. Dawn gave way to the grouse with their varied calls and responses. We were no avian experts, but the messages between the respective grouse were clear:
“There are people coming, stay low”
“The people are a bit close, get away people!”
“They’ve buggered off, as you were”
Later on, as the sun hung high in the sky we saw, what for some of us was the first time, Adders and Grass snakes!

Past dawn and a way past the Lion Inn pub and our feet were burning and the confines of the boots were taking their toll.
A well earned “dip for the feet ” at the stepping stones near Wheeldale Lodge turned back the miles and reinvigorated our feet and ankles.

35 miles in, after 15 miles of slow muddy progress through the boggy Moore, I was convinced I had an expert eye for spotting the “solid” ground and decided my sticks could resume their primary purpose of holding my back side above my knees…how wrong I was! With only a few more arduous miles to go I nonchalantly marched through the marshlands and ditches with my eye on the prize.
Visions of throwing offspring in the air and joyous, relieved and hopefully carnal looks from our spouses as their heroes returned after defeating the North Yorkshire Moors.
The end came 40 miles later as the silhouettes of friends and loved ones appeared on the horizon and children ran down to great tired parental legs. A couple of cold beers were drunk (For rehydration purposes) in quick succession and the drives home ensued.

What an experience, what great company and never again!

The walkers were:
Sean Newby
William Maughan
Graham Tweddle
Geoff Simpson
Andrew Simpson
Gary Willoughby
Stephen Heafield

Unsupported Crossing 5-6th May 2018

I’d like to report our crossing. I attempted this walk a few years ago with people from work, but only managed to get as far as the Blue Man i’th’ Moss, had to retire due to some serious blisters. I roped my older brother Craig Meek into it this time and at 20.25hrs on a warm Saturday evening 5th May 2018 we began the walk to the starting stone at Osmotherley. I knew what we were letting ourselves in for, and we had the necessary food, clothes, spare socks etc. This was an unsupported walk, we carried everything we needed on our backs.

Catching the last of the evening sun, we made our way, making reasonable time, through to the first foot check and sock change, at the Lord Stones area…hmmmm, are those warm spots going to be trouble later I wondered, as I talced my feet, putting fresh “blister free” socks on? I thought my boots were broken in and comfortable, having been ‘walked in’ on previous walks lasting up to four hours.

The temperature never dropped below mild, so it was onwards and upwards, admiring the glow of Teesside at night as we tackled the first few hills. We almost stumbled on a few cows as we navigated Broughton bank and the Wainstones, with another foot check / sock change confirming my worst fears….blisters, both feet. Passing another group on the same challenge, we managed to climb Botton Head and pass Round Hill, by torchlight, with the red lights of the Bilsdale transmitter a constant feature for the next part of our journey. Travelling on the old railway line, this part seemed to go, and on, and on..eventually finding the Lion Inn at Blakey, around 4am.

As we fed and watered ourselves near the pub, the warm weather meant some of the bedroom windows were open, and it was so quiet we could hear snoring…so jealous!

Realising my blistered feet were going to be a real problem, with only two painkillers, (one for each foot I suppose..) we set off with some trepidation. I couldn’t see how I could possibly continue, but equally, I couldn’t see how I could possibly give up ..again. Weighing up the options, phoning my wife Donna at 5am for a lift home, tail between my legs, or seeing how far I could go, the latter option meant we got to see the sun come up over the area near Fat Betty.

The sunrise at that time was glorious and spurred us on, I knew it would be a scorcher, and wasn’t wrong. Gritting my teeth and plodding on, we covered some ground, but slowly and surely made progress. Making it to the second OS map seemed to make it within our grasp, until I unfolded the map to see how much further we still had to cover..then unfolded it again..and again, and again…

Almost stepping on the first of our three adders we saw along the way, catching the sun, we stumbled on and on, seeing countless lizards, a mouse, birds galore and two barking deer that greeted us near Wheeldale plantation.

By now the going was tough, with rough stony terrain, sore painful feet, aching legs, the heat at least 20C, water was down to our reserves as we crossed Wheeldale Beck stepping stones, resting for a while as we soaked our feet in the cold water. Bliss..

It couldn’t last, though, so on we stumbled, literally stumbled on to see the end in sight….in the distance…sheer torture. The transmitter never seemed to get closer as we ploughed on, too close now to think about quitting. With water now down to a last few mouthfulls it was with a heavy heart that we discovered there was no ice cream van at the car park at the A171. With grim determination, and the thought of cold fresh water in the waiting car where my wife Donna was at the finish, we managed to lift each aching, agonized foot up, then putting it down, again and again until at last we finished.

The time was now exactly 14.25hrs,Sunday 6th May,2018, 18 hours of walking across the North York Moors, a real slog on this occasion. We’d finished though, we’d done the Lyke Wake Walk, an immense feeling of satisfaction known only to those Lyke Wake Walkers.

Guy Meek and Craig Meek