Crossing 06th August 2022. Dirgers: Stuart Hodgkinson, Ed Paxton, Stuart Wilkinson

After a lengthy and complex logistical exercise to leave a car at the end of the walk, and to deposit a small cache of provisions where it would be probably needed later in the day, we started out from the Osmotherley end car park at about 7am. An obliging passing walker took a snap for us, photo-bombed by his dog.

Conditions were perfect, warm but not overly hot; and after a dry spell the going underfoot was firm even in the boggy bits. The first quarter was a complete joy for all – varied walking with great views towards Teeside to the north, happily chatting away and all feeling good, the miles just slid by easily.
However, reaching the old railway line was a definite transition point. Whilst it makes perfect sense for railway engineers to hug the contours of Farndale Moor, for us walkers weaving left and right of our intended direction so much of the time felt frustrating. The compacted cinder was quite hard on the feet; and we were very relieved to reach the comforts of the Lion Inn at around 1pm for a much-appreciated lunch in the garden.
I munched thoughtfully on my baked spud looking ruefully at the tiny white cheese grater in the distance, RAF Fylingdales, wondering how far/how long? Setting off for the first mile or so in completely the wrong direction was also a tad irritating, but we soon loosened up and struck off into the seemingly infinite moorland. At this time of year the heather was all in flower and to be fair, it looked glorious for mile after mile.
The old cliché was true, Fylingdales never seemed to get much closer – looking like a giant trig point teasing and beckoning. Ed and Stuart H had both wisely prepared for the LWW by doing the Yorkshire Three Peaks in the last couple of weeks. I had done no prep and was winging it on the day. The constant pounding on my feet was beginning to hurt more and more, and I gradually slowed and started falling behind. Crossing Wheeldale was my definite low point. I’m starting to suffer and there’s still over 15 miles to go. But then I remembered I’d got some paracetamol in my first aid kit and stopped to dig out a couple of painkillers. Once they’d kicked in they definitely helped, and I was able to pick up a better pace again.

The day before, we had questioned the wisdom of secreting a package near a sensitive military base. But on reaching Eller Beck bridge we were very glad of the bag containing some bottles of water, cans of tuna, nuts and dried fruit for an impromptu feed station. Evening was drawing in, the midges were up, and whilst refuelling we discussed the route ahead and whether a sensible course of action would be to bale out at this point. The quitting options were not great logistically, and by my reckoning we only had about 8 miles left to go, with a warm clear night ahead of us. So we agreed to saddle up and press on.
Thankfully the navigation was clear and easy as the light faded, and the terrain became more forgiving. 10k left to go = two park runs was a nice virtual milestone up on Fylingdales Moor. Somewhere down below near Whitby we caught sight of a fireworks display to serenade our progress. We left off the headtorches for as long as possible to use night vision, but in the end they became essential. Even the half-moon had set by now. Walking endlessly into a small whitewashed pool of light in the silent darkness was a faintly zen-like experience, punctuated by checking progress and course on my phone.

With great relief, we finally reached the finishing post at just after midnight. 15 hours 17 minutes of walking time; about 17 hours in total. I’m writing this a day and half after we finished, and my legs are still stiff! But the sense of accomplishment is great, and the mutual support among fellow adventurers is a big part of what makes life so wonderful. Well done guys – you are the best of friends.