Crossing of Lyke Wake Walk on Friday 28th October 2022.

It is with deep regret, but yet a profound sense of relief that I can report that my partner and I have completed the Lyke Wake crossing. Our goal being to run it within 10 hours, we managed 10 hours and 55 minutes, considering the diversity of the terrain, ie. predominantly non-runnable and the typical British weather: everything except snow, we were rather pleased to finish when we did.

Despite the rain it was a pleasant start, through autumnal leafy paths of orange, reds and browns. It wasn’t too long before we had cleared Live Moor and Carlton bank and had just past the Country Park when the rain and wind unleashed it’s fury. All the gear that had been taken off as we warmed up running over the hills, was back on. We struggled along in the sideways rain, recalling our previous run in this area which also had given us sideways snow.

Having reminded us who was the boss, the weather calmed down again and we were able to see beyond the next slope. The wind remained, kindly drying out our gear as we toddled along and the odd bit of blue sky started to show itself. The first 10 miles had certainly taken its toll with crazy weather and the ups and downs of the Cleveland way. Our time was looking rather slower than expected, but as we carried on into the North Yorkshire Moors, we hit lovely runnable trails, were happily sailing along making good time, the sun was shining and we were loving life.

At some point our map directed us left off the lovely Farndale Railway path and onto a rather untrodden sheep trail. We slowed right down as we scanned our maps, raised our legs and each step dropped us into the unknown. For what seemed like an eternity (but turned out was only twenty minutes), we attempted to make a bee-line across the moors, I very painfully kicked a rock and yelled at it and my running partner rather ungraciously fell down a hole. At this point we decided to head back to the old railway to run around the unpredictable moorland, which took us another 15 minutes to get back to. After 45 minutes we had covered a kilometre but were happy to be back on easy trail. Soon enough we came across a pub! Knowing that the temptation of a sit down and pint could render us with an inability to get up and finish the job, we passed it by and carried on.

It was not long after the pub that we started to realise that the Lyke Wake Walk was not a well trodden path, despite the random monoliths and piles of stone for dead people there really wasn’t much else and for what felt like the next 10 miles we splashed, tripped and waded our way across what felt like the marshes of Mordor, I half expected to see dead faces in the water when I looked down. When we found a runnable part, it quickly changed to rocky outcrops, soggy heather rivets or streams of water and so we could find no running rhythm but just kept moving. Typical sound effects were ‘ow’ ‘ow my toe’ ‘urg’ ‘ahh’ all to the accompaniment of sore battered toes being bashed on rocks. Amongst all that the stepping stones and rail crossing were a pleasant distraction.

At some points here and there we actually found signs for the Lyke Wake Walk, not as professional as the ‘Cleveland Way’ sign posts, but non-the-less rather comforting. As we stumbled our way across endless moors, the sun started to set and we wondered when would it end, when could we get a good running pace… At Lilla Cross we donned the head torches and hoped we didn’t have too far to go. We continued with ‘moor’ of the same, run, walk, kick stone, ouch, walk, ouch. A few blisters also started to niggle. Finally we reached a fence, hoping it was the road, we quickly discovered through our head torch beams, it wasn’t and it was a decent into another valley and across another stream. As we ascended out of the valley the noise of the stream sounded to me like people talking and playing, worried that exhaustion hallucinations were starting, we carried on.

Onwards and forever upwards as it seemed, we continued, car lights finally drew our attention to the road we needed to cross and after that we knew we only had 2km or so to go. In the dark it felt like it took forever, I stopped watching my GPS as it felt we never moved. But finally we made it, took the picture at the last stone, stopped our watches and then figured out where our car was.

It was a steep descent to our car and as we shivered and stripped off our soaking socks a local neighbour came out with his torch to ask us if we were ok and to congratulate us, what a lovely man! We had an hour and 15 minute drive home and as the passenger I soon realised I didn’t have a bottle opener to open my beer! We stopped at a petrol station near Whitby and with my rancid dirty feet in flip flops I shivered my way to the kiosk to pay for a can of lager, goodness knows what people thought of me. But I celebrated the finish with a beer and a cold Cornish pastie as my partner swerved along the unlit roads to a well earned shower and bed and for him a G and T or two.

Neil Hopkins and myself, Lorna Garrity 

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