Crossing – 19-20 August 2018

Dear Gerry,

It is with a heavy heart that I find myself writing you a letter of this grave nature. I represent Wyke 6th Form College in Hull and more specifically the Purple Arrows, Wyke College’s Staff Adventure Group.

The Purple Arrows were formed in 2015 by Andrew Dunne and Christopher G Herring, the focus of the ‘Arrows’ is to challenge staff physically though world renowned outdoor challenges. The group is made up of seasoned veterans Andrew Dunne, Christopher G Herring, Andrea Mason, Samantha Young ( 4 tours) + Kate Clark, Mark Rothery, David Pickering (3 tours) + Toni Knight, Mel Matthews, Amy Rothery, Sarah Thackeray (2 tours) and new recruits Hollie Blakeston and Andrew Bentley. I’m sure you will agree that the ‘Arrows’ are an experienced, no nonsense bunch of rag tag thrill seekers.

For reference- Tours of Duty

2015 – Yorkshire Three Peaks = Completed
2016 – National Three Peaks = Completed
2017 – Crib Goch/Snowdon Horseshoe = Completed
2018 – Lyke Wake Walk (19&20th August) = Completed
(This walk was completed by all of the people named above, in 22 hours)

All persons named above set out on the Lyke Wake Walk at 3:50pm on 19th August 2018. Nobody had any idea what would be waiting for them over the next 22 Hours. The trek began with the group in high spirits, the sun shining and the birds singing. Nothing could go wrong, surely. Quickly the rain came down, the mist closed in and the darkness descended. Our spirits died that night as the blisters spread and the road never shortened. We nearly lost Mason in the Peat Bog as she sunk to her knees. Pickering nearly died three times as a result of physical exertion. Young turned from a polite young lady to a swearing docker’s wife and the new recruits vowed never to fly again with the Purple Arrows. This pain and punishment was relentless, crushing dreams and bodies for the next ten hours.

So to my complaint. Whoever is responsible for this challenge should be held to account for the creation of this act of lunacy. 13 good people still lay broken at the end of the trail. This challenge is no laughing matter, it is recklessly and negligently prompted to unsuspecting victims such as ourselves. I demand answers, I demand retribution, I demand compensation (in the form of a certificate each and any other paraphernalia you may possess). This is not a challenge to be taken lightly and it has cost us our souls and our dignity. The only thing that stopped us falling into the abyss was the unconditional care and attention provided by our support Team, Jim Darmody and Larysa Diak (3 tours each). This challenge is impossible without a dedicated support team willing to work through the night for the sake of their friends.

We completed this challenge In 22 hours as shadows of our former selves.

I hope you act upon the concerns I have raised and feel suitably chastised.

Yours sincerely,

Christopher G Herring
Co Founder of the Purple Arrows Wyke Staff Adventure Group,
Wyke 6th Form College

Crossing 02nd July 2018

40 plus years since I first wanted to do the crossing and almost a year since a gruelling failed attempt, Georgia my daughter and I set off from Osmotherley at dawn on the 2nd July. Georgia had flown in from Dubai and we had driven up from Hertfordshire.

We enjoyed the climbs of the first 10 miles, so much so that I was distracted by the warning sign about the territorial Eurasian Eagle Owl and went off the path. We ended up scrambling round the Wainstones into the very lair of the beast which seemed preferable to me than casting around with a terrifying drop behind us (gentle slope my daughter said). But we avoided the bird and came across the main path and wondered how we could have got off what looked like a motorway.

Our first stop, at Clay Bank Road, found us sitting on picnic chairs at a table where a camping stove was brewing tea and cooking bacon thanks to Malcolm and Colin of Weathergoatwalks. The walkers arriving on their minibuses for the next stretch of Cleveland Way or Coast to Coast must have wondered who these lightweights were. Last year we had tried the walk unsupported and it had been hard. I asked Malcolm if we were cheating but he, always able to say the encouraging thing, said we were doing it properly. It didn’t take long to dispel our doubts!

The railway section was hot, very dusty and boring and the Lion Inn was an oasis. The stretch on the road to the bog felt long as we hurried to our nemesis. In 2017 the section from the Lion Inn to the Wheeldale Road had taken us 5 hours as we wallowed and splashed and walked every way but in a straight line. This time we bounced across in 3 hours, not even a wet boot sole. The Wheeldale Road marked the point in 2017 when as darkness fell we decided not to continue over unknown ravines and moors with headtorches. This time we were in good time and a cup of tea and some fruit cake gave us rocket fuel.

At this point Georgia seemed to be upping the pace and when asked why said that her feet (in new boots) were hurting and she wanted to get to the end. This gradual increase in pace continued till the last 2 miles of the whole walk were almost done at a run! The sections to Eller Beck and Jugger Howe were just enjoyable walking – much more enjoyable than 2 weeks previously when Georgia’s brother Toby had helped me try the final sections of the walk and we had been subjected to an unbelievable tropical deluge where every piece of waterproof equipment failed and dry paths turned into torrents.

The only clouds of the day had rolled in from the sea over the first set of hills, so we never saw the Beacon, just took it on faith that it was there and ploughed on, me in Georgia’s wake. Malcolm and Colin were there at the end to cheer us on, take the photos and drive us in style to the Falcon Inn, where we were just in time for a pint and a glass of red wine.
After – a year of obsessive preparation; a whole new suite of waterproof kit ( unused); about 20 litres of water and 4 cups of fresh brewed tea; and just over 15 hours of walking we were left with a buzz which 6 weeks on is still there and a little voice which is telling me to do it again!
John & Georgia, Hertfordshire

Crossing Friday 3 August 2018

The idea of the crossing had been in the air for months and months with a date tentatively voiced for `early August`. As August rolled near many kept asking `so when are you actually doing it?` It was time for definitive action! So at 4.10 am on Friday 3 August we set off from Durham to Osmotherley with the words still echoing round the car `have you done much training for this?….me neither!` By the time we parked up and found the starting point BoroBoy and Geordie set off at 5.24am with the sun rising and a gentle wind on our backs.

Good progress was made over the first 18 miles, breakfast was a combination of raisin bakes and jelly babies washed down by water…lots of water! The views were wonderful and the company great as we discussed the merits of our respective football teams, the structure of the American baseball leagues and the workings of the Tour de France. But hang on what was this? Dark clouds emerged from nowhere laden with rain and to throw an extra little spice to the occasion a few lightning forks and many rumbles of thunder. Those 2 miles to the half way point seemed immeasurably longer than 2 miles!!! The moors all of a sudden seemed inhospitable, impassable, almost begrudging our presence there.

The sight of our support vehicle was wonderful. Julie and Ellen appeared like saviours to the drowned rats. Mugs of hot tea and food that didn’t border on a dangerous sugar overdose consumed with both relish and glee. Much better….

So we set off for the next 20 miles with renewed determination with clouds still menacing overhead. The infamous boggy section lay ahead and thoughts of losing the path, sinking to our waist in goopy peat were upper most in the mind especially as visibility wasn’t great. But as if the ghosts of yesterday were helping us along, the path was surprisingly clear, the bog wasn`t so boggy and the clouds lifted and the sun eventually emerged once again.      

The final push was tough. Feet were beginning to ache and blisters starting to kick in on both feet. The light was fading but we could see our goal. The mast at Ravenscar loomed ahead and stayed there for about an hour not getting any closer so it seemed. The track was difficult to walk on with small uneven rocks underfoot making every misplaced stride feel painful and at best uncomfortable. Finally the sun disappeared and head torches were on for the last uphill climb to the finishing line. The welcoming sight of torch lights beckoning us in was simply wonderful. `Here they are!` we heard through the dark as once again Julie and Ellen provided the salvation our feet desperately craved for. We had done it…the LWW conquered at 10.20pm!!!

The box has finally been ticked after so many years of waiting to do so.

Paul Angel (BoroBoy)
Paul Donaghy (Geordie)

Support team
Julie and Ellen Angel

Crossing report – 16th June – slaying the dragon!

The start

We departed at 7:15am on Saturday the 16th of June 2018, in a team of two brothers from Bishop Auckland, Chris (33) and Daniel (36).

With Chris leading on navigation, we sailed through the first 10 miles having walked this section before on a practice walk many years earlier. This was somewhat of a dragon-slaying mission, you see.

We’d had two attempts at the walk before, and both times we didn’t even make it to the start – the fuel crisis of 2000 and the foot and mouth outbreak in 2001 stopped us in our tracks, before life left the walk behind.

Fast forward 17 years, and having achieved our first goal of getting to the start, we met our parents and their picnic chairs at our 10-mile checkpoint, and then thundered through to our girlfriends at our 20-mile checkpoint.

The heavens opened nearing our 30-mile checkpoint, and, alas, our girlfriends were nowhere to be seen due to a timing mix-up. We continued on, sliding down the valley side in a raincoat-penetrating storm.

With 33 miles on the clock, we still pretty much felt like we’d just got out of bed. That feeling would crumble fast though, the hidden ‘valley of doom’ sapping the last of our strength as we stumbled and dragged ourselves to the tower on the horizon, arriving at the hallowed stone 13.5 hours and 41 miles since departure.

A great walk – and a slayed dragon!


Still smiling at the finish……………………….