The Lyke Wake Walk is a forty-mile crossing of the North York Moors from Osmotherley to Ravenscar essentially following the line of the watershed across the moors at its widest point.
The late Bill Cowley originated the concept of the walk with an open challenge in the Dalesman in August 1955 to cross the moors on foot from West to East within 24 hours. At noon on 1st October that year, eleven men and three women set out to perform a crossing reaching Ravenscar around 10.30 the next day. The Lyke Wake Club was born (derived from ‘Wake’ – watching over a corpse, ‘Lyke’ – the corpse itself).
All of the men and two of the women completed the course, they were the founder members of the club:
Anyone having completed, or even attempted the Lyke Wake Walk will be very familiar with its association with the theme of death! The emblem of the coffin associated with the Lyke Wake walk is no accident – and is totally appropriate.
There are no honorary members of the Club – it is entered only by the ‘ordeal’ of completing a crossing! Back in the mid seventies, crossings were at the rate of over 6000 per year. In 1978, 10,000 people reported crossing the walk.
Lyke Wake Club
The Lyke Wake Club is open to all those who have completed a crossing of the Lyke Wake Walk, collects information about the walk, furthers the interest of those who do the walk and encourages members to learn about the moors, its history and folk-lore.
Wakes (gatherings of Club Members) are held periodically – the traditional dress being black. At these wakes, accounts of crossings are related - and washed down with appropriate beverage! Various ‘degrees’ are awarded to persons completing multiple crossings of the Walk (Master/Mistress of Misery, Doctor of Dolefulness, Past Master).
Fastest Crossing: Mark Rigby (1984 ) 4 hours 41 minutes ( Mast – Osmotherley village )
Fastest Lady: Helene Diamantides ( 1992 ) 5 hours 30 minutes ( Mast – Osmotherley village )
Fastest Crossing West-East by the Classic route: C Garforth and M Turner in 4 hours, 58 minutes, 7 seconds.
Most Crossings: Gerry Orchard (at least 235). – Still “sort of alive”
Other Centenerians: Ben Hingston 212 ( Last on 9th February 1984 ). Died October 1985. Ian Ashley Cooper ( 157 Crossings ). Died 28th December 2003. First person to complete 100 crossings : Louis Kulcsar 17th November 1973.
Youngest crosser: Christopher Turton at 6 years old
Oldest crosser : Several people in their 80s have crossed (sadly no further details).