Crossing 30th June 2018

I first heard about the Lyke Wake Walk in about 2000 had had considered attempting every year since then, but something had got in the way. This year, I decided, was going to be the year!
When I mentioned the walk in passing to my friend, MK, he immediately said he would like to come along. We then mentioned it to a third fiend, SA, over a few beers he agreed that it sounded ‘fun’ and signed up for it. I should perhaps note here that the three of us have been fiends from school and were all best men for each other – just the kind of people to undertake this kind of challenge with.
The date was set for our west to east walk – 30th June 2018. We had about six months to prepare but sadly other things got in the way. I managed two decent(ish) walks (24 miles and 27 miles), MK managed one (the 24 mile walk with me) and sadly SA didn’t manage any. As a result it was decided last minute that SA would only walk as far as The Lion, and only MK and I would go for the full thing.
Friday afternoon was spent hiding water in a few locations on the route, before myself and MK met up with SB at The Lion so we could leave his car there, and proceed in my car to Osmotherley. We had booked into the Osmotherley YHA for the night and toddled into the village for some dinner. I must say this was perhaps our first challenge. The sun was out, the beer was flowing, and it was very (very(very)) hard to limit ourselves to only a few beers and then turn in for the night so we could be up at 03:45 the following morning. We managed one in each of the three hostelries and then MK took over and said it was time to go back and sleep.
03:45 hrs on the morning of the 30th June 2018 – our D-Day.
MK was up immediately with the alarm and opened the curtains/turned lights on so SA and I ended up awake very quickly. Kit was already prepared and we were out of the hostel a touch after 04:00 hrs, and up to the starting point within about 15 minutes. This was perhaps the nicest part of the day as it was bright and cool. Later the sun would hit.

We had one minor mishap early on when I decided it would be best to go up on to the top of Whorlton Moor rather than through the woods, but they forgave me for that. I’m not sure that extra climb would have been very welcome at the other end of the route. Then followed the ups and downs of the first section to Lordstones which I think took us all slightly by surprise – they really were a little more uppy and downy that expected.
All the time we had been aware of a group about a mile or so behind us and we were keen to keep in front of them. On the section between Lordstones and Urra Moor we spotted them……… skirting around the low ground to the north!!! We did consider this as an option for about a minute, but then thought if a job is worth doing it’s worth doing properly.
We really did enjoy this section of the walk. It was still quite cool, and the views were stunning. We actually stopped to admire the views – something that would happen less and less as the walk continued. It was also nice to wander along chatting and catching up. This chirpy conversation is also something that would be limited at times later as we drifted into our own little (painful) world.
Urra Moor to The Lion was something of a slog. The walking was relatively easy, but the railway line didn’t seem to end. Plus it was now starting to heat up. There was actually a heat haze when you looked ahead along the railway line. Plus there were all the fit bods who were running along past – that can be quite soul destroying!!
I think SA was also thinking about the beer and relaxing afternoon he was going to have as he increased his pace along the railway and I think we (well I) may have pushed it a little hard. But still, we made The Lion for about 1230 and had an enjoyable break. I changed socks and used talc for the first time (a top tip from a friend). I also changed from trail shoes to real walking boots. Oh, and I drank coke. Ordering a soft drink in a pub doesn’t sit well with me, but I actually wanted a soft drink and not real ale. Quite amazing!
We discussed the afternoons we had ahead of us. MK and I would continue on walking in the now blistering heat. SA would, on the other hand, go to Whitby, check into the hostel, have a nice shower, have a plodge in the sea, and then go for fish and chips. We did consider joining SA and sacking off the walk, but figured we had to continue. So one we set off.
I was quite pleased I had changed my boots as I went over on my right ankle almost immediately. I think the high boots probably saved me from resurrecting an old problem, so felt like something was on our side, and we quickly got in to a nice pace. Shunner Howe was crossed in quite good time, and we had a bit of a break at the carpark on the road near Shunner Howe where we had some water stashed. The next section of moor, however, really was a bit of a slog.
The breeze had dropped and the sun seemed hotter than ever as we crossed Wheeldale Moor. Plus the peat was so dry the rocks were out and it was quite unpleasant walking. MK and I had also now almost stopped talking as we both sank into our own little world. This was broken by the view of the drop down to Wheeldale Lodge!!!!! It was that kind of descent that you thought would never end as you kept going over the edge, but couldn’t see the bottom. Plus you knew that every step you took down would be matched by a step up on the other side.
This might have been a low point for me. I think I swore a lot when I saw it, and then a bit more when I looked back at it over my shoulder. Oh, and when I thought I was stepping onto solid ground after going over the stepping stones only to actually put my foot on a pool covered in mud and go in manky water up to my knee!! However this first up and down at the eastern end of the route was good as I felt I still had energy reserves for a bit more walking, although I didn’t quite realise how much more there still was to go!
I should perhaps add at this point that we had, for some reason, kind of told ourselves that once we saw RAF Fylingdales we were pretty much there. All we would have to do was climb onto the high ground and we would see the finish line and that would be it. This was something that we felt must be true as a support party we stumbled across just after crossing the railway line reassured us that we “didn’t have far to go”. This was music to our ears. We had seen the steam train when crossing the track (which pleased me enormously), and such reassuring words from the strangers really made us think we were almost there.

Then I looked at the map again……
I think the next section was a bit of a low point for MK, and I don’t think he’ll mind me saying that. For a good while I kept on saying it was only about 5km to the finish line every time he asked, and for a while he believed that. But only for a while…….after that I think he started to realise I was lying. I then saw something I never thought I would see as we approached Ella Howe – MK eating a full malt loaf. Not cut up and buttered. Oh no. A full, unsliced malt loaf.
This was quite a spectacle, but it did the job and he perked up, and we trundled on.
At lunch we were confident that we might finish for 1800 hrs. Perhaps even 1700 hrs. It was now about 1900 hrs and we realised that our early finish and drinks in the pub were a distant dream. However the views from Ella Howe were wonderful, and it was nice to have a little break and think about the fun we could have been having in Whitby. I texted a few photos to a friend who had completed the walk before and he replied with a brisk “Good spot, now stand up and get on with it”.

Jugger Howe Beck was reached as a kind of mist was coming down, and I spent some time wondering how people running the route felt as they approached that valley after covering so many miles. It now seemed to be taking some time to cover the miles and the section from Jugger Howe to the A171 seemed to take an age.
At about this time we received a call from a friend. I should have mentioned that all three of us were supposed to be attending a school friends stag do. The invite have been received a week after picking our date for the walk and as a result we had been forced to make our apologies and had to explain we could not attend because of our ‘adventure’. The idea of a call from the stag party in full flow was not appealing and I’m afraid we had to ignore the call. Hearing the cries and laughter of a bunch of inebriated friends would not have made us feel much better!
We also received a call from SA who was, helpfully, sat in his car on the finish line waiting for us. We reassured him that we were alive and that we were not far away, but that we could not see the mast due to darkness and the mist, but as we had crossed the A171 we must be near.
Onwards we walked and then finally we spotted the mast. One last slog along the track brought us to the mast and the lights of the car. FINALLY!!
We remembered to have a quick photo by the finish stone – sadly rather blurry with the two of us looking far from our best – and then into the car. It was now about 22:30.
MK fell into a bit of a daze/sleep very quickly and I think I jabbered on to SA during the drive to the hostel.
At the hostel we shuffled to the room and then shuffled to the shower. Amazingly we had no blisters, although there was some chaffing – I’ll leave it at that.
We had a little whiskey from the hip flask and then sleep. Wonderful sleep.
The following morning we were stiff, but surprisingly well. Breakfast was consumed and very much enjoyed, before we made our way back to the start line to pick up my car for the drive back north.
That evening my wife and I attended a concert at the Sage and heard Racheal Unthank singing about Fylingdales Moore and Wheeldale Moor, names that I hear in a very different way now.
By Monday the stiffness was going as I boarded a train heading north at 06:30 hrs for a week of work in the Highlands. The thought of putting boots back on and more walking had been a dreadful thought as we covered the final miles of the walk, but by Monday it was a thing of the past and the first walk of Tuesday was rather enjoyable and the body seemed fully recovered.
So, there you have it, our report. The Final distance (according to Strava) was 42.6 miles, and the total assent was 1683m.
In don’t think there was ever time when we thought we wouldn’t finish it. We are too stubborn for that. But I would recommend people do undertake more training than we did, and remember that if they do feel that they cannot go on and the pain is too much, the pain will go away after!
Before the walk I talked of doing it again from east to west. While doing the walk I scoffed at this idea. Now I think, well…….. who knows. But possibly…..
I am keen to come and see the race though, and the see the mad people who run it. Now that is something I cannot comprehend!!
Team Newbiggin-by-the-sea were:
Jonathan Shipley (JS) – full walk
Mark Knight (MK) – full walk
Steven Abbott (SA) – to The Lion and then support