Monday/Tuesday 2nd/3rd March 2020 – A Spring Crossing – yeah right!

Decided I couldn’t put it off any longer – time was running out to ‘get in’ my traditional pre-Wake crossing. The spheres aligned & an opportunity arose that coincided with a relative lull in the procession of storms that have recently lashed England’s Green and Pleasant Land. Everything progressed according to regulation along the ‘front line’; went over the summit of Cringle but the Miners’ Track below Cold Moor was gloopy where not frozen – should anyone be going W-E in the near future I’d recommend going over all 3 summits between Lords’ Stones & Hagg Gate if you like to keep your feet relatively clean at the ‘start’. From Botton Head onwards’ enjoyed a cold, breezy but sunny late afternoon/early evening with the setting sun glinting off some microdots of snow (not really big enough to be called patches) & with the breeze following, really enjoyed this section. Got to Old Margery just after it got dark. Continuing after a leisurely meal with my support the weather changed. Because the higher regions of the moors hadn’t thawed during the day, Rosedale Moor actually relatively easy to negotiate even in the dark – plus the experience of several dozen crossings tells you where you need to take a detour to keep moderately dry. However by the time I got to the Hamer Road the weather had deteriorated significantly; the wind had risen & it was snowing significantly (so the forecast was correct in saying there’d be ‘no rain’!). Decided to take the northern route as it would allow me option of dropping down into Eskdale should that be necessary if the conditions descended into a full blown blizzard. From Sil Howe to Louven Howe the going was quite tough with snow covering thin ice on this very water logged section – got quite a few bootfuls of icy cold water hereabouts. It got light as the mist & snow started clearing just as I arrived at Lilla Howe. The ground from here on was frozen hard with two consequences: the gravel on the firebreak was frozen solid in place which made it easier on the feet, but secondly a word of warning – got to the top of the Jugger Howe steps, set my foot on the 1st flagstone not paying enough attention and went elbow over tea kettle and hit the ground with quite a thump, picked myself up & descended the bracken/grass as a safer option. At least I didn’t suffer a wardrobe malfunction as happened last year when I crossed in frosty weather ( ).

Although not a winter crossing by Lyke Wake definition, this has been wintryist crossing I’ve ever done in terms of the weather I was on the receiving end of.

So,19 hours full stop for what was potentially the first crossing this decade (I think Gerry would be pleased to hear if anyone else beat me across this year). It’s well over 40 miles going that way round (including a couple of navigation errors in the blizzard) &, with that weather, possibly my toughest ever crossing & very definitely the coldest.