30.07.2022 Crossing Report…One Foot In Front of the Other…Repeat!

I would like to report the successful crossing from Osmotherley to Ravenscar, by myself Michael Elliott, and my best mate Shaun Richards, on 30th of July 2022.

Shaun and I are not your typical athlete types who I imagine usually take on this challenge. I think it’s fair to say we are both built for comfort not speed. We weren’t really walkers although we did hike a bit when we were kids. We are both 41 now! A very rare positive of the Covid pandemic was that we started meeting once a week for a walk, when rules allowed it. They were a good chance to catch up, have a chat and get some exercise. These walks were usually only about 3 miles, but they did start creeping up to 5 or so. So how did we go from this to successfully completing the Lyke Wake Walk? Well I’m blaming my mother in law!

During February half term me and my better half Catherine had had a great day hiking from Ravenscar along the cliff tops to Robin Hood’s Bay where we ate our pack ups, then headed back to Ravenscar along the old railway line. A lovely walk of about 8 miles or so. The next day we happened to be having lunch at the in-laws Steve & Sylvia, and we were telling them about our walk. Sylvia said “That’s very impressive….but you know we have done the Lyke Wake Walk…”. The seed was sewn.

At our next weekly walk I brought it up with Shaun. He was keen. Before we knew it our weekly walks were spent mostly discussing the LWW, when we would do it, what we would need to prepare, what time we would set off and most importantly what would we take in our bait!

We planned on doing some decent hikes to prepare, but as mentioned we are novices, not exactly great with a map and compass, we decided the best training would be to break the walk down into sections and do each section so we would know where to go and what to expect when we eventually took on the full LWW. If any other novices are reading this, I would really recommend doing this as it was great preparation.

Our first practise walk was from Osmotherley to Clay Bank car park. This 10-mile section is surely the hardest section of the walk and almost killed us. We were exhausted when we finished, safe to say the big climbs had really taken it out of us! The full 40 mile crossing seemed a long way off!

We trained for it over a series of weekends by also walking from Clay Bank to The Lion, then The Lion to Ellerbeck, then Ellerbeck to Ravenscar. Then we did Osmotherley to The Lion, and then The Lion to Ravenscar. When we didn’t have as much time we also did a couple of walks from Lord Stones Cafe over to Clay Bank and back just to get the climbs in the legs and try to demystify the hills that had terrorised us on our first practise! These section training walks were great prep but the admins of driving to end point, leaving a car there then driving back to the start, then repeating it when we finished was a bit of a chew on.

We had decided that we would take on the LWW on Saturday July 30th. Two weeks before this we had another hike from The Lion to Ravenscar. This turned out to be a scorching hot day. When I got home I was shocked to see the biggest blisters I had ever seen, one on each foot. The next few days I could hardly walk, they were so painful. It meant we had to cancel our last 2 planned training walks. The blisters didn’t seem to want to go and I was getting very worried. It was really looking like we were going to have to postpone.

However, we were doing this to raise funds for two charities that were very close to our hearts, Crohn’s & Colitis UK and the Encephalitis Society. We were over the moon to have raised £2,500 thanks to the incredible generosity of our friends, families, and colleagues. We’d had so many well wishes and support that we just had to go for it!

On the day my Dad very kindly picked me up at 5am then we picked up Shaun, and after lots of chat about how we had hardly slept the night before, he got us to the start stone for about 5:50am

After the obligatory photos by the start stone we were off, starting with the climb straight up to the top of the moor, we were a bit shocked about how tough we had found this, lots of grumbles about how pointless this bit is, why couldn’t we just walk along the road to the gate by the cattle grid!?

We soon got into our rhythm though and were very pleased that we managed the next big climb without stopping or needing oxygen!

We were lucky that the weather had been great for all of our practise hikes, but today we had run out of luck. We hadn’t even thought about or discussed walking it in the rain but on the day it pretty much rained for 39 of our 40 miles! This slowed us up a fair bit through the day as the rocks and stone paths were all very slippery meaning extra time and care had to be taken. Amazingly though we only had one fall during the day but a fair few near misses!

The training paid off as we got through the difficult Carlton Bank to Clay Bank section without too much trouble, helped by a quick stop at the Wainstones for one of Catherine’s legendary homemade chocolate chip cookies! Around this time, we also got a lift thanks to a couple of voice notes from Shaun’s lovely kids Bethan & Samson “Come on Daddy you can do it, just another 15 hours to go!” Another 15 hours? E the cheeky little scamp. Turned out she was an excellent judge!

We negotiated the very slippery descent down to clay bank, over the road and straight up the steep climb up Carr Ridge on Urra Moor. We rewarded ourselves with a quick ham bun stop on the bench at the top. We then got a bit of pace up on the old railway line section to The Lion. We predicted we would get to the Lion about 2pm but we got there at 1:30pm, we were really chuffed with this.

Luckily my Mam & Dad must have had faith in us because they were already parked in the car park waiting for us, Catherine was also with them which was a really nice surprise. Just as we were saying hello my brother John and 11-year-old nephew Jack pulled into the car park too to wish us well. Seeing them all and getting their support gave us such a boost! My Mam is the ultimate feeder and had brought a mighty feast along and it was really great to have a cup of tea! A kind passer-by took a photo of us altogether which will be a nice reminder of the day and the great support we had. We ended up stopping for about half an hour here which was probably a bit longer than we had planned but it was just so nice seeing them all we didn’t want to dash off. Just as we were about to get going again Jack said to me “Uncle Mike you should run the last few miles!” bless him, he had more belief in me than I did, I was fully expecting to be crawling the last few miles.

Refreshed we set off again, giving Fat Betty a wave as we passed by. The next section is not my favourite, through the peat, it had rained so much we were dreading this part but to be fair it wasn’t as bad as we expected and we got through it ok.

Next onto the Blue Man i ‘th’ Moss. We were starting to think he had gone for a day out as we were sure we would have got to him sooner, leading to us repeating the catchphrase of the day “I don’t remember this bit being this long!” We did get to him eventually though, a quick pic with him then a
little break on the rock beside him while we devoured the excellent Cornish pasties my Mam had given us. The heavens really opened now and it tanked down. We were used to being rained on by now though and just kept on scoffing.

Next my least favourite section, down through the steep ravine through the by now soaking bracken to the stepping stones at Wheeldale Beck. It was a treacherous descent and by the time we got to the bottom my boots were soaking. We crossed over the stepping stones and that horrible boggy bit. Then the climb up the other side that I hate. Shaun seems to always fly up it though and he took the lead up here giving me lots of encouragement.

We each have a climb that we really hate and this is mine. Shaun’s is one of the lung busters in the section between Carlton Bank and Clay Bank. We kept ticking the climbs off though, we reckoned there are 7 really big climbs and we kept counting them down. When we got to the top of this one it was 6 down 1 to go. Through all the training and on the day we had the motto “One foot in front of the other and repeat!” this mantra kept us going through the day!

At the top I reluctantly had to take my boots off and get some dry socks on. I had not wanted to take my boots off at all but I had to. Sadly, part of the bandages keeping my blister plasters on also came off here but needs must.

We ploughed on towards the railway line comparing our aches and pains “Oof my right knee has just started to hurt, that’s a new one!”

Crossing the road at Ellerbeck we were pleased to be now starting what we knew as the 4th and final section.

This next part through Fylingdale was the only part where things went wrong. This was the third time we had walked this section, the first time we did it perfectly, the second time we went off course, and this time we did again and we aren’t really sure how. The first time we had joked about the military staff shooting us for getting too close to their base. We were now starting to think this wouldn’t be such a bad thing!

We had taken a different route the last couple of times and had convinced ourselves that we had gone miles off course. We tried going back along a fence to take us to where we thought we needed to be before realising this was also wrong and we had to go back where we had come from. By now it was starting to get dark, it was still raining, we were tired and probably weren’t thinking as straight as we should. We were confused and this was probably the only time our heads started to drop a bit. We decided to keep following the road/track that we had at first thought was taking us in the wrong direction. We reasoned that if we followed it, it must take us to a road that we could walk along it until we got back to where we needed to be.

We followed the track, it turned a corner and to our absolute delight and amazement there was the fabled five bar gate! The joy and relief at seeing it was immense! The buzz of it freshened up our legs and we were off again! We had lost quite a lot of time here but we were now back on track! We crossed the road and up to Lilla Cross. We took advantage of the brief moment of the rain stopping to take a quick pic of the nice sunset behind Lilla Cross.

We plodded on but it was now getting really dark. Shaun had been in pain with his Achilles all day and now also had a tight calf. We really hoped it wouldn’t go this close to home and luckily it didn’t.

We had wanted to delay stopping to put on our head torches until we had got up the other side of Jugger Howe ravine but this wasn’t an option. We got our head torches on and kept on going, one foot in front of the other and repeat. This section seemed different in the dark, we started wondering if we had gone off course again and somehow missed the ravine?! “This section seems longer than I remember!” but we got there. A quick swig of Lucozade at the top then we began the steep descent which was pretty tricky in the dark and wet (you guessed it, it was raining again!). We made it to the bottom without breaking our necks which was a good result. We crossed the little bridge and began the last of the really steep climbs. The first time we had done this it had really taken it out of me, but I had been delighted that the second time we had got up it no problem even having a laugh at where some joker had written “Ravenscar 20 miles” on one of the steps. This time we were going up in the rain and it was pitch black, which was maybe just as well as it meant we couldn’t see how far it was to the top!

We did make it to the top though and it was a relief to know that all the big climbs were now behind us!

Crossing the moor road (A171) felt great as we knew we were now well and truly on the home straight! We ploughed on at a surprisingly decent pace in search of the mast, which we started to think had also been moved!

But then there it was! We picked it up with our torches! What a feeling! We were almost there. Our good mate Benny had agreed to pick us up, he had spotted our torches and turned his car lights on to guide us home!

And there it was, the end stone! We had made it! What a relief and what a feeling!! We had a quick pic by the stone then piled into Benny’s car. He had very kindly brought us some cans of lager (and a load of cakes), we were going to have them by the stone to celebrate but by now the rain was so heavy we had to have them in the car instead, it didn’t matter, we had done it!!

We finished at 11:20 pm. Including our breaks and little unintentional detour we had done it in about 17 hours 25.

When we first talked about doing this we had aimed to do it in between 18 and 20 hours, then as we did more training we dared to dream of doing it between 16 & 17 hours. In the end we were really pleased with our time considering our injuries and the conditions, but to be honest we were never that bothered about the time we did it in, we just wanted to complete it and we were really proud of ourselves that we had!

I’m in no position to give anyone advice on how to do the Lyke Wake Walk but if I can give any advice it would be this, try to walk it with your best mate! We had really spurred each other on and kept each other going. Without having to say anything we had taken it in turns leading and setting the pace, this doesn’t sound much but it actually really helps. Most importantly we had a great laugh all day, at some points we were laughing so hard we could hardly breathe. It made a change from the hills making it hard for us to breathe!

Big thank you to everyone who sponsored us, helped us, and wished us well. My Dad and Benny went above and beyond with the lifts at either end of the day, my mam provided excellent supplies at the halfway point, and our support squad who came to cheer us on at the Lion, it was all a massive help!

I’m so glad that we did it! Writing this the next day, my feet are in bits and I can hardly walk, would I do it again? Absolutely not. Well not for a while anyway…