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