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