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: