A Close Encounter

Report on a Crossing of the Lyke Wake Walk

Date:  14 June, 2023

Participants: Clive Avery  (age 75) & Rachel Reid (age 39)

Support:        Dr Elizabeth Bromley (Clive’s daughter Beth)

Weather:       Fine, clear, dry, with an easterly wind. Temperature 19-20 C

We were taking on this challenge  as a fund raiser for Wasdale Mountain Rescue Team and the Great North Air Ambulance Service, following an accident on June 27 2022 when Clive fell coming off Scafell and had to be airlifted to Carlisle Hospital with head injuries after Rachel had raised the alarm and called out the MR team.

Beth delivered us to the Cod Beck reservoir car park at about 2:50 am. As  the car headlights went out it appeared still to be pitch dark, and Rachel got her head torch set up.

We set off after photographs by the start marker stone, at 3:10 am. The sky was beginning to lighten but the ground was still dark. The moon was up but at less than last quarter, giving no useful light. Climbing up the first ascent, strange lights in front of us turned out be reflections from the eyes of a flock of sheep, as surprised to see us as we were them.. From the top of Scarth Wood Moor we could see the lights of the outskirts of Middlesborough across the valley. Down to the road crossing and through the paths of Coalmire plantation the darkness deepened on the ground, although the sky was brightening.

The Dawn chorus was getting seriously under way as we  crossed the valley to Live Moor, and the sun finally emerged over the brow as we climbed towards Gold Hill. We passed the summit of Carlton Bank just before 05:30 and we took a 5-minute breather at Lord Stones before continuing on the climb to Cringle Moor and Kirby Bank. We were graced on the ascent by a close-up view of a Curlew, simply sat on a boulder and calling, and as we approached the top, a glimpse of a deer on the skyline.

We descended, and climbed, and descended, and climbed again, getting to the Wain Stones at about 7:10 am, and after the slightly nervous scramble after passing the stones,

(“Are you sure this is right?”  “Errmmm..”), finally descended Hasty Bank to arrive at the road crossing – and breakfast of tea and sausage cobs! – provided by Beth at around 7:45.

Loaded with optimism and breakfast, we ascended Carr Ridge, passing the trig point at Round Hill, the highest point of the route, at 8:57. (not quite the highest point on the path, and certainly not the end of climbing overall). We reached Bloworth Crossing at around 9:20. As predicted, the trek along the railway track was accompanied by a brisk headwind.

(“How long is the railway bit?” “About 5 miles, say 2 hours.” “How long have we been on it so far?” “15 minutes.” “Aahh..”) But the views over Farndale and Rosedale were rewarding, and progress was actually reasonably good.

We passed Ralph’s Crosses just before midday. Our lunchtime, and boot/sock change  rendezvous was at the turning by the road to Fryup. More tea, more sausage and bacon cobs!

The “wet” section over Rosedale Moor to Shunner Howe had been seriously wet when we checked it over at the beginning of May. Now, although the ponds in the middle of the path were still there, underfoot was almost totally dry. Good for us, if not for the hordes of tadpoles we had seen on our earlier visit. The section was well populated with grouse, with families of young, whom we frequently disturbed, despite staying to the path. Sorry about that, grouse!  We reached Shunner Howe at 2pm, and the road crossing above Hamer 12 minutes later, for another top-up of water and tea.

Now for Wheeldale Moor.. The trek to the Blue Man was uneventful and reasonably quick.

(“Is this the Blue Man?” “ Not sure.. Don’t think we’ve come far enough yet.” “Only it’s got a stick man painted on it. In blue.” “Aah. Well , in that case..”) But the section beyond seemed, to me at least, interminable, and was the one time I was convinced we were off route. We weren’t, according to GPS, it’s just the paths are really that obscure and rough. I was beginning to think that bit in the Dirge about Whinny Moor was not too far from the truth as the boulders seemed to pop up deliberately to trip me and the rogue Christmas trees invading the path turned out to be nothing like as soft as their foliage looked. (Who had I upset when I was alive? Waitaminute – I’m not actually dead yet..) We got across Wheeldale Beck at 4:20 pm, and reached Simon Howe at 5:05 pm. At Ellerbeck we were greeted again by Beth, this time bearing ice cream as well as more (by now cold) sausage cobs. A final change of socks and we were off for the final main section. Again the moor leading up to Lilla Cross was much drier than when we had checked it over. With the Fylingdales “Cheesegrater” behind us, we made Lilla Cross at 7pm, with the sea in view and the end at last in sight.

In sight, but not yet all over.. “That *%$! mast doesn’t seem to be getting any bigger!” as we thrashed through the heather, and despondency hit both of us as we came upon the Sting in the Tail- Jugger Howe Beck. However for once, it’s not actually as bad as it looked.  A final quick check-in with the support at Jugger Howe, and across the road (staggering JUST a bit.) with the damned mast STILL not looking all that close.. But finally there we were, in splendid evening sunshine, claiming the finishing stone, NOT leaning on it for support, at 9:03 pm, just under 18 hours. And Beth produced a beer for me and and a Buck’s Fizz for Rachel. A brilliant end to a brilliant (if tough) day.

Oh, and we actually carried a coffin all the way as well. Here it is, on the finishing marker:

Crossing The Yorkshire Desert

I’d like to report a crossing of the fantastic Lyke Wake Walk.

Start time 9.55pm 16th June 2023
finish time 7.15pm 17th June 2023

21hrs 10 mins
Unsupported crossing: Barry Cooper & Chris Kitson.

We arrived in Osmotherley around 8.30pm on Friday 16th June packed the rucksacks with the essential supplies after a last minute decision on footwear we set off to Cod Beck Reservoir,  maps and guide books in hand.
After a brief photo call and we set off at 9.55pm on what was a beautiful summer evening, we walked till 11.45pm. Plan was to bivvy bag out on Carlton Moor and get an early start. We settled down looking at the bright lights of Middlesbrough. We misjudged how cold it would be so hardly any sleep was had and we were up an at ’em  at 4.15am.
A slice of Donna’s quiche and a glug of water and we were off for an epic day. We cruised over the Cleveland hills stopping around 7am to apply sun tan cream as it was scorchio already.
Next stop was breakfast on Round Hill around 8 ish. Just before the old railway line Chris’s feet fell out with him, blisters, the curse of any long distance walk. Remember the last minute footwear decision – luckily he brought his sandals. It was a game changer when it could have been game over.
We trudged down the railway line meeting a school teacher who was waiting for her pupils to get to the next checkpoint. We made Rosedale Head at about 10am. The first 5 kids from Scarborough College passed us at this point and disappeared off in the distance.
Glaisdale Moor and Wheeldale Moor will forever be known as “the Yorkshire desert”. It was hot, really hot and unlike many crossings not a sign of water or boggy areas. Here we spotted an Adder sunbathing on the peat paths – we held back while he moved on his way.
We really needed to find some water to sort our feet out. Luckily Wheeldale Beck answered our call, feet repairs done re fuel and 15.00 on the clock. We reached Simon Howe, saw Fylingdales and thought the end was in sight – how wrong we were.
Simon Howe to Lilla Cross was a real slog, feet and engine were holding out, shoulders from the heavy rucksack now starting to scream. We reached Lilla Cross and saw the beacon in the distance – we both looked at each … “that’s miles away”. On we battled what we really need now at 37 miles is Jugger howe ravine a steep descent then climb.
We did it – at the top a lady says “Only 2 miles to the Beacon”. Spirits lifted, we picked up speed crossing the A170 and on to Stony Marl Moor at this point Chris said “I think we’re gonna do this” – perfect timing with the end in sight.
We reached the final stone at 7.15pm, mission accomplished. What a day out.Congratulations to Chris for making the crossing 75% in sandals that took some will power. Never had a pint of cider & a Double Maxim tasted so good.
Has to be one of the toughest walks I’ve done.
Regards Baz Cooper

An Emotional Farewell

Crossing Report by Martin Leach, 11th June 2023.

Well, not long after my little brother Jonathan Leach and nephew Jack Leach had finished in about 18 hours, we gathered at Cod Beck reservoir for our start at 6.00pm, Saturday 10th June. 18 hours, no, we were going to finish in 15!

It was a beautiful evening, and we made quick progress through the forest, down to Scugdale and then up and over Carlton Bank. It was a bit breezy, but remained warm. From the trig point, we could see the event Jonathan had eluded to. It turned out to be a mountain bikers meeting and they seemed to monopolise all the fields around Lordstones, but did, under sufferance, allow our support party to park near the road. Anyway, suitably refreshed we headed off up Cringle Moor.

We had made exceptional time up to this point, was 15 hours on? It was late evening, but still light, and we had a good view from the top down over Teesside. Somewhere on the way, we decided to take the low road around the second and third peaks, which was, perhaps, a good move, as the wind was picking up. This route was dry, but we were being constantly whipped by the low hanging branches. Just as well it was still light.

Another relatively quick stop at Clay Bank, and we were off on the longest and, arguably, the most troublesome section. The wind was quickly becoming our enemy. Do we risk getting cold by not adding layers, or add layers and then get hot and sweaty. I chose the first, and it was OK, but the headwind was punishing. We had planned to be on this section in the dark, as it was the easiest to negotiate by lamp. We also planned to drop down into Esklets and rise up and meet the road at Ralph’s Cross.

All best laid plans etc. All was going well, and we found the beginnings of the track out of Esklets, and then lost it, which meant heather hopping up a steep incline, in the dark, until we did meet the path, and on we went. We had walked this section before in preparation, so, having saved the route on GPS came in very useful. Finally, we met the support group at the crossroads above Ralph’s Cross and all was well, but, at this point I bailed out. I think reality took over the desire to finish. So, my report from here is from the perspective of a rather sleepy support party.

Next came Rosedale. Jonathan said this was dry. Who was he kidding? David Campbell certainly wasn’t laughing when he went in up to his waist and had to be pulled out! Anyway, no damage done and the section was completed in good time, although is was becoming clear that 15 hours was slipping. We also experienced the blood red moon, but at this point, the sky was becoming light, but the sun wasn’t up yet.

The route was starting to take its toll and our second walker dropped out at Hamer Ho. The next section included the drop down to Wheeldale Beck. I was thankful I wasn’t walking. I drove one of the support vehicles around to Ellerbeck by the Fylingdales early warning station, in order to give Olly time to sleep. This again, was a long section, but is provided time for us to sleep and prepare the full English breakfast we had promised. Walkers came, ate, and left, many now determined to finish even though their bodies were telling them to stop.

This was the final long stretch. An hour up to Lilla Howe and a bit longer to get down to the Scarborough Road. It may have been about 7.00 in the morning, but the rising sun was strong meaning sun tan lotion was now a necessity. It turns out we had probably chosen the hottest day of the year, on the coast, to do the walk. Who said 15 hours? 17 to 18 was now realistic!

At the Scarborough Road layby, we met the walkers who were getting further apart as the aches and pains, and blisters, took their toll. Most didn’t stop but just ploughed on. The road was getting quite busy, particularly with bikers, so, I think, the speed camera van just along the road near the Flask Inn, would have had a good day! Mick donned his high vis coat to shepherd one or two slower walkers across the road, because some vehicles were travelling so fast. This was a good move. Anyway, the walkers plodded on and the times came in at 18 hours give or take!

This had become an annual event in memory of my father, Walter Leach, and friend of Bill Cowley, who passed away 4 years ago. We have raised a tidy sum in aid of Cancer Research UK, and in memory of all our friends and family members who have been affected by this. You know what everyone always says at the end, ‘never again’ well, this IS the final time we will be doing the LWW in it’s entirety.

When I first did the walk about 50 years ago, the route was mainly peat (or bog) and this was kind on the legs and feet. I appreciate the need to restrict ground erosion, but the constant pounding on hard surfaces, when it affects the ‘youngsters’ so badly, is just a step too far. Good luck to everyone who follows in our footsteps, but for me it is an emotional farewell to LWW which has been a massive part of my families life for as long as I can remember.