Crossing 28th July 1982……………………

I am writing this letter as an addition to my son’s report. As a witch who made my one and only crossing at the age of 18 on 28th July 1982 (copy Condolence Card attached) I would like to apply for membership of the New Lyke Wake Club in my married name of Catherine Thorn.

However I think you may be interested in the circumstances of my crossing, as therein lies a possibly forgotten piece of Lyke Wake history.

A proud son of Yorkshire, Brian Robinson by name, had moved to Norfolk to work as a school teacher at Earlham High School in Norwich. For a time from the late 1970s to the early 1980s he would lead a party of sixth formers (with a few of his fellow teachers) on an annual trip to attempt the Lyke Wake Walk. My late father Jim Hooley was a colleague of his; being a fellow northerner (albeit from the other side of the Pennines) he shared Brian’s enthusiasm for this madcap project, and having completed his own crossing with one of the first of Brian’s parties (in the days when you still had to walk down into Ravenscar to sign your name in the book at the hotel) he would go on subsequent trips to help with the support. It was through this that I came to join the 1982 trip. I enclose copies of photographs from my Dad’s album. The top two are of some of us in mid attempt; I am the one with the blonde hair and yellow cagoule. The bottom two are of us revisiting the end point on the following day; in the left hand one, three of us who reached the finish together (I am the one on the left) are reconstructing our triumphant final lunge for the transmitter (which you could touch in those days); on the right is a larger team photo taken next to the transmitter. I am delighted to report that all but one person in the party making the attempt managed the crossing, which is a testament to the hardiness of Norfolk people.

(Totally unconnected circumstances led to me and my husband setting up home in Helmsley in 1996 and bringing up our family here, by the way.)

I am sure that my Dad would be delighted that doing the crossing and then supporting the next generation to do so is now becoming a family tradition. Indeed my husband is hoping to make another attempt next year, possibly in the company of our older son Alex; I will certainly be in support, possibly with Tom – although he may be making a second crossing in the hope of beating my time!

With kind regards,

Catherine Thorn



Crossing Report: Monday 27th August 2018

Having lived in Helmsley for the entirety of my childhood, and also having a ‘witch’ for a mother, the Lyke Wake Walk had always been something on the agenda of things to do which I knew, in reality, would probably never get done. However, with four close family deaths within the space of nine months, including two grandparents, I believed that there was no better time than now to complete the Dirge in their memory.

I had once made an attempt as a spry 15 year old, only to resurrect a knee injury at the half way mark. Now as an infirm 20 year old, it was finally time to put aside all doubt that I could endure such physical and mental hardship. Moreover, in the time since my naïve teenage attempt, I had become a student in London, and was now on the committee for the Barts and the London Alpine Club; specializing mainly in country pub jaunts over any kind of physical endurance (it is a student organization after all!).

Joining me for the challenge was my father. He had just recovered from flu the week before and, in his still delusional state, had proposed the crossing. (A decision he would later come to regret.) Mum took on the role of support, a witch who could impart her wisdom, and Tunnock’s wafers, whenever required.

The decision as a student to get out of bed at 5am is never one which is taken lightly, nor without sincere conviction. The start time from the stone at Osmotherly was 06:15, much later than we would have liked as it would mean finishing in the dark (if we got that far!). The mantra was just to think about getting to the Lion Inn, as this is where we would have our first support from Mum, and also because even if we had to bow out there, it would still have been a lovely day out.

The up and down along the early sections of the Cleveland Way were no obstacle for my mountaineering background; unfortunately no Eagle Owl was spotted at the Wain Stones (the bank holiday is probably his day off). We actually found the flat monotony of the old train line from Bloworth Crossing to be more agonizing on the legs. We made good time to the Lion, only stopping once for the little boys’ room at the Lordstones country park. We had our first rendezvous with Mum at the Lion, topping up our water and wolfing down the cheese and pickle sandwiches provided.

However, it was at this point that Dad started to regret his decision to undertake the walk so soon after having had the flu. His pace was slowing from the Lion, and he was forever checking his pulse, worried he might have overdone it for a 56 year old.

Mum had always said that from Shunner Howe, you can see RAF Fylingdales far off in the distance, however it is imperative that you must never gaze upon it, for as a watched pot never boils, a watched RAF Fylingdales never gets any nearer; this advice is quite true. With quite a lot of encouragement to Dad, we finally made it to Eller Beck. It was here that Dad realized that if he carried on, we wouldn’t be finished until late into the night. It was here that he reluctantly (and in my opinion very wisely) pulled out of the Dirge. It was now up to me to complete the final 8 miles, solo, while Dad and Mum went for hot chocolates at the Raven Hall Hotel.

The light was waning as I looked out from Lilla Cross toward the finish, just being able to make out the mast that marked the finish in the fading light. It was also at this point that I noticed that my headtorch wasn’t working, and also that the lid on the Ribena in my rucksack had decided to unscrew itself; all remaining food and clothing was now soaked and sticky. Naturally navigation became an issue on the descent from Lilla Cross to Juggers Beck. (The one section of the walk – and probably the whole North York Moors – which I had never walked before.) I could easily take a bearing on my compass but it was not being able to see the map and compass itself which was the issue. With some luck, I made it down into Jugger Beck. According to Mum, this is the point which most people find the most difficult, as it really is like a ravine, (not that I could see that it was). I must say I quite enjoyed using some different muscle groups to the previous 20 miles.

Making it to A171, I knew that there was only one last effort over the moor to go. Mum called me from near the finish, and asked if I could see her headtorch in the distance. I could! And it only looked to be a few hundred metres away! But, just like Fylingdales, and just like so many other things on this walk, it never seems to get any nearer. It was a long 2 miles. But that headtorch eventually transformed into Mum, and the Dirge was over. The total time was 16 hours and 15 minutes.

I think I should like to do the Dirge again, maybe even a winter crossing is in the offing, but for now, I’ll let my feet rest a while longer.

Yours sincerely,

Thomas Thorn


START TIME 19:30, 27/08/2018
FINISH 13:40 28/8/2018


Stevie Clark
Stu Franklin
Sam Franklin (age 17)
Nikki Pattison (f)

It was with much trepidation that I agreed a further attempt at this challenge walk as a few years ago the Gods were against us and we had a torrid time, finally admitting defeat just past Flyingdales.

With daylight hours being less at this time of year it was decided to make a start just before dusk as the first part of the walk is easier to navigate and we might get a second wind when the sun comes up. As with most challenge walks you can prepare physically, carry the things you will need whilst keeping weight low, and have adequate food and drink. What you can’t legislate for is the weather conditions on the day.
Fortunately on this occasion we were blessed with dry conditions, some cloud covering and almost a full moon which lent some illumination during the hours of darkness. Other than a few cars at Osmotherley car park and one or two returning day hikers we saw no-one once we began the crossing until we topped up our water supplies at a farm in the morning.

It was almost torch time within minutes although the moonshine helped when reflecting off the stones of the Cleveland Way. The consensus was that walking during the night seemed to help pass the time as concentration levels had to be higher and you couldn’t see the climbs ahead! It was a beautiful sight in its own right looking out over the lights of Teesside and the ascent of the moon. Despite the tough climbs in the earlier part of the crossing we were making good progress. My Garmin registered 10.9 miles by midnight and a whopping 202 floors climbed 184 descended (a floor equates to approx. 3m – only a few floors will have been prior to the start).

Of course starting in the evening meant no opportunity to call into a café or pub so our first stop of note was on the road just before the boggy section. All four of us literally lay prostate on the road to stretch out our backs, get some food down and personally I let the air at my feet. The next section over the boggy ground was horrific a few years ago but on this occasion in the main it was ok. The posts which had fallen are still not back in place and it could still be very easy to stray off track. Signage from this point on is very poor and map reading skills I would suggest are essential. It was heartening to see the first glimpses of daylight as we arrived at Hamer.

The effects of such a trek were now starting to take their toll along with general tiredness from being awake all night (and previous day). My wife Gwen and Stu’s wife Helen who had been our emergency extraction team will have had a full nights rest and now be making their way to Osmotherley to collect one parked car and then proceed to Ravenscar. Their early morning text just said – ‘so far so good, eta at finish 12:30’. This time seemed reasonable given our position and progress to this point, however understandably we slowed and kept putting the eta back.

Conversation had all but dried up and it was just a case of one foot in front of the other. It was wonderful to see Lilla Cross and our destination but it appeared to keep getting further away! Jugger Howe ravine was a killer – the descents were tougher on our tender feet than the ascents. Arriving at the finish stone was certainly more relief than jubilation. It is only on reflection when with a beer in hand, sitting in the garden at The Ravenscar Hotel overlooking those fantastic views that a sense of achievement comes.

We will all relay tales of the crossing for years to come.

Yours, with respect


Left to right: Stevie, Sam, Stu, Nikki.

And not forgetting Gwen and Helen!