Crossing report – 21st May 2021

Tom, Richard, Ben O, Charles and Ben B (and Jules, the amazing support driver)

This was a gritty crossing. I don’t think we were under any illusions that this wouldn’t be a challenge but the weather certainly wasn’t kind. The month of May had been a wash out across the UK so water levels were high and this was the forecast as we headed up on the train from London:
But the inexperienced five old mates from university were not going to be deterred and our naïve knowledge of the area and hiking generally was probably a plus.
We had also raised an incredible £17k for Mind, the mental health charity, so nothing was going to stop us…
We were keen to make the last food order at the Raven Hall Hotel and so decided to set off at 4am

The weather was actually kinder than forecast as we set off which helped the early start. And the first section to Lord Stones went relatively smoothly (bar a slight wrong turn early on…), although our support driver mistakenly went to the second checkpoint so we didn’t stop and carried on up the climb to Cringe Moor to checkpoint 2. The paths was thankfully relatively solid over these sections, excluding the path along the Broughton plantation which was very muddy.

At checkpoint 2 we met another support driver who told us there was another group in pursuit (more on them later…). It was then that the rain started and it basically didn’t stop for the rest of the day. We were reminded of the scene in the movie Forest Gump ‘we been through every kind of rain there is. Little bitty stingin’ rain…and big ol’ fat rain. Rain that flew in sideways’…

The next section along the old railway was long (9.5 miles) with the rain lashing and visibility getting worse. But at least the ground was still relatively solid. Given the lack of visibility we missed the turn at the Lion Inn and so added a mile or so onto our walk…But we arrived at Checkpoint 3 at Rosedale Head at 11.15am so we were on track.

The next section was the one we had been dreading – the bog. I don’t think photos will do justice to the conditions. Paths were streams and the ground was like a sponge, with us sinking each step.

But this relative short section of c. 5 miles felt like an adventure and we arrived at checkpoint 4 wet and in relatively good spirits for a quick lunch (thanks again Jules!). We were halfway and still vaguely on track timing wise (c. 1.15pm).

At this point some of us were feeling quite smug that our water proof clothing purchases were holding out well, whilst others were having to change socks, shoes, clothes etc.

But getting wet couldn’t be avoided in the next section. The book had warned us that this felt longer than 8.5 miles and this was certainly the case. The ‘wet’ section at the start was much longer than anticipated with the very stoney path along the plantation basically a stream.

It was along this section that the group mentioned above passed us. But we soon caught them up again at the river. I noted the last crossing report that said if the water was any higher then the river was unpassable as the crossing stones would be under water…well there certainly were no crossing stones for us!
Whilst the group that had passed us were wondering what to do, one of our group (Ben B) went for it and waded through the river, falling to his waist right at the end but he got to the other side. We had no choice but to all follow suit, wading through thigh deep water trying to keep our footing on the slippy stones. The situation was comical and the sight of Ben O falling into the river had us crying with laughter (and will live long in the memory).

But we were now cold and still a couple of miles to the next checkpoint. Ben O was freezing at this stage but was comforted by the knowledge that he had a change of clothing in his bag…which Jules our driver had kindly dropped off at the hotel! So after Ben O had borrowed various garments, we set off from checkpoint 5 with less than 9 miles to go (and now lagging a bit time wise).
Mentally we had thought that getting past the last section would see us home and dry, but by now the legs were starting to go and it was just so wet under ground that the going was slow and heavy, sinking with each step. The visibility continued to be rubbish and hence we had no chance of seeing the finish at Lilla cross.

Even the path that looked like it had been recently worked on was a muddy and rocky, and hence slow going. The legs for a couple of others were beginning to go – walking poles helped to propel us forward. But we finally made it – within 16 hours to the stone, just….

Beer can opened and a walk / waddle / stagger to the hotel in time for food and celebratory drinks into the night…42.6 miles in total given wrong turns etc.

Crossing 09-10th May 2021. Mark Noble.

On Sunday 9th of May I strapped on my backpack, took a final check of my maps and GPS, then headed out of door to start my journey to Osmotherley.
Train delays and wedged caravans on the narrow roads towards Cod Beck Reservoir meant that I finally set off at 12.30pm. Unlike most who set off at some ungodly hour, I wasn’t in any particular rush as the plan was always to wild camp at around the halfway point.

The weather looked good, if anything a tad warm. The first 10 miles were fantastic and I found myself bumbling alongside the Hardmoor race series. Unfortunately no offers of refreshments at each checkpoint!
Passing over the road to Hasty Bank and onto the moors was the last time I was to see anyone until the end of the walk.
I was making really good progress despite having 10kg of camping gear on my back and as I reached The Lion at Blakey thoughts turned to where I was going to pitch my tent. Randomly I spotted an Adder snake shortly after and made a note to myself to remember to zip my tent door tightly shut!
The light was fading with grey skies and light rain. I had seen a trig point just off the path and headed to set up for the night.
During my research I was aware/dreading the ‘bogs’ which many reports mention. There had been rain on and off for the past 48 hours but previous to that it had been dry for at least a couple of weeks so I was quietly hopeful.
Unfortunately, the ground was getting wetter with every step. The trig point on Rosedale Moor was a non starter as it was surrounded by water. It is the smallest trig point I’ve seen as it must have sunk into the ground. 200 yards away I found a small square of earth and whipped the tent up sharpish. 21 miles in and good progress was being made.

Up and off after a strong coffee, the next few miles were a zig zag of avoiding bogs I’d heard so much about. I’d made a decision to cross in trail shoes rather than boots and the waterproof socks were working overtime!
Crossing Wheeldale Beck via the steppingstones was good fun. Any more rain would have made this impassable.

The sun was shining, the legs were starting to ache but I knew I was on the home straight. I missed the stream train on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway by minutes as I watched it from the next hill.
RAF Fylingdales had been spotted a few miles earlier and previous hikers had spoken of it never getting any closer despite eating the miles up. I can confirm that to be true!
I hit the radio mast and trig point after a total moving time of 12 hours and 20 minutes over the two days (14 hours elapsed time).
A short walk followed down into Ravenscar to get a taxi to Scarborough. The beer waiting for the train tasted superb and I raised a smile as the heavens opened and the rain bounced off the pavement.

Crossing 01st May 2021

Freddie Overton, Joseph Holloway, Kit Elliott and William Rigg completed a west-east crossing to become Dirgers on 1st May 2021.

After an early drive from Whitby, the group departed from the Osmotherley Car Park at 06:10 and headed up into the moors. The weather was glorious – approximately 2C as the sun continued its rise into the sky. Jack Frost had visited overnight and there was a light mist hanging in the valleys. Going was good to firm, firm in places and the group enjoyed some of the early KMs. Apart from some very light hail, weather remained pretty decent with intermittent clouds and light-medium winds.

It was the group’s first attempt at such a walk and the initial ascents/descents did take their toll by the time of the railway track path. Readers should be aware of an emboldened baby lamb around Farndale Moore – it came right up to us expecting us to have milk!

After a brief packed lunch at the Red Lion, the group headed east over Rosedale moor. A grass snake was spotted, many grouse were scared away and the legs became ever more tired. The path was firm under foot with only intermittent bogs to cross – certainly a result of the low rainfall of late.
The sun got lower in the sky and with it the temperatures dropped back to about 2C. It was a stunning evening as the clouds dispersed to leave a pure Yorkshire sky visible. The group completed, touching the finishing stone at 22:30.

4 very tired but successful Dirgers who consider themselves very lucky for a good weather crossing.