20-21 June 2010 – Steve Moses

Crossing achieved by Steve Moses, Jordan Millward, and Bee Moir, started at The Queen Catherine pub, Osmotherly square, 10.30pm 20th June, finished at The Lyke Wake Walk stone, TV mast, at Ravenscar, 8.30pm 21st June 2010. We reckoned 21 hours not counting breaks.

Sharon Spedding and Jamie Melville retired at The Lion Inn, Blakey Ridge, Joanne and Paul Brennan retired at Ellerbeck.
Group were supported by Ped, ( Orland Pedelty) without whom we just wouldn’t have made it!

Oh my God!

Whatever we were told, whatever warnings we had, and whatever expectations we held, nothing prepared us for the real experience.

Seven fit…….. well, two 10 mile joggers, one gym bunny, 3 seasoned walkers ( err, seasoned by 7-10 mile ‘oh what a beautiful view’ walkers mind you!) and one ‘I’ll be alright, I’m always on the go’ innocents decided to take on the challenge sometime last November.

Three practice walks, of 10, 20 and 28 (we couldn’t work out a circular 30 miler) miles later, and off we set, 10.30 at night, on what proved to be the hottest couple of days we’ve had this year, on the legendary Lyke Wake Walk.

All went well until reaching Lord Stones cafe, yes. it was dark, but surely we should have found the path more easily? a brief panicked wander later, and we were going up Cringle Moor, along Kirby Bank, and eventually to the Wainstones…..

3 of the party being quicker, but not used to the route, went round the stones to the north instead of through them, resulting in near death experience as they clung desperately to clumps of grass as they clambered round the edge. The slower of us caught up with them and couldn’t even look at what they had done, still go cold thinking of what could have happened.. but my word the breaking day was beautiful.

By Blakely Ridge we lost one of the fittest (and nicest) people you could hope to meet, to crippling blisters, One of the seasoned walkers, and probably the one we most favoured to complete the challenge, dropped out with him, emotional ties overwhelming personal ambition. Dont worry, we confidently said, look on this as being your practice walk, when you’ve recovered, we’ll do it again with you, and next time you’ll complete…….. err, at the time , just half-way through, we were feeling good, didn’t know what was to come.

Our passage over the ‘boggy section’ was somewhat of a relief, because it wasn’t boggy at all. It had all more or less dried up. This relief soon turned to boredom as the paths went on and on and on and on………. We missed our support at Hamer due to the closure of theRosedaleroad and our water ran low. At this point, another of our party began to struggle due to blisters. We eventually crossed theRoman Roadand, with aching knees, carefully picked our way down to the stepping stones at Wheeldale Beck. We paused briefly to bathe our feet. It felt like Heaven. At this point two chaps who appeared considerably older, but fitter, than us, yomped past us, we were to discover, at Ellerbeck, that they too were completing the challenge, and had set out at 4.30 that morning!

We lost two more group members at Ellerbeck Bridge, again blisters had shredded the feet of one, we’d watched her endure the most tortuous stony sections without a complaint, a fine birthday present for her being ruined feet, and only a semi-melted birthday cake as consolation. Her partner, and at that time the person who seemed to be holding up best, retired with her. Both of them climbed up to Simon Howe far ahead of the rest of the group, showing that only cruel injury prevented them completing the challenge. How frustrating to get 3/4 through and have to drop out, not fair!

We’ll crack on, said the final three, its only another seven miles, how hard can it be?……

All thoughts of ‘we’ll do it again’ changed to ‘we’ll advise other people not to even consider it’, and, ‘maybe, maybe, I’ll be someone else’s support team’. Next year’s challenge changed from the ‘Three Peaks Challenge’ to ‘who can make the best tea’.

So, finally the end is in sight. Jugger Howe the last torment to endure before the home straight. But after hobbling to the bottom of the ravine, and climbing painfully back to the top, the person with the least developed directional instinct, (and the most contagious panic) screams ‘but the listening tower is over there’ pointing to a mast on the left, and to the north. Only the thought of going back down (in case she was wrong and had to come back up) or surging over the thistle strewn land between us and what she thought might be the path to the mast, created enough incentive to listen to the more sensible (and surely only coincidentally male) members of the party who knew by map and compass that the path went straight on.

Although the last stretch of path seemed to turn into an escalator running in the wrong direction, we finally made it to the stone, and the car waiting to take us back to hot baths, hot food, cold beer, bliss!

Never again! ……….. Never again? Within two days we were already estimating how we could shave hours off our crossing time.

Blue Sky and Sunshine – Mike Hinson

Having worked all day as a landscape gardener I was looking for a good reason NOT to do the Lyke Wake the next day. Unfortunately the forecast was good, kids had gone to scout camp and we had no beer. On top of which my support ‘team’ (wife) pointed out I kept saying I wanted to do it so what was the problem? Pottering in the garden and going to the pub for lunch still seemed a better option!

Saturday morning arrived and we drove across country, me scanning the sky for black clouds or preferably twisters, none to be seen. I even tried not finding the start, but Brian Smailes book made it all too easy for the  support team to point out ‘it’s just up here’ and she was right.8.30 amon a clear sky day I stood at the Lyke Wake stone outside Osmotherely, wondering what lay ahead. Realising there was no way out except injuring myself whilst running, I set off. I was amazed to find myself enjoying it, the undulations, limestone paved route and broad leaf woods, not the boggy trudge I’d heard of, obviously after a while I started to resent the undulations and the limestone paved route, whilst the woodland left me to the moors. I also resented the fact that I seemed to be skirting the edge of the moor rather than striking out across the boggy plateau. Arriving at one then two checkpoints with still no injury I had to carry on to the Lion Inn, with the promise of strong winds to thwart my journey and possibly even getting lost, my spirits were heightened. I  was quite taken aback to find myself running through Australian bush, sandy underfoot through low scrub, large tracts of which were on fire-surely the route must be closed! Then finally a physical ailment to stop me, stomach cramps, must have been the Mr Kiplings at the checkpoint, I trudged in pain along the railway, accepting it was all over, then realising it was in fact the formidable wind that I’d been warned of on this section and probably due to beans and Lucozade and not the wrongly accused Mr Kipling. All of this was quickly alleviated when an Anaconda crossed the path in front of me (well Adder at least). I reached the Lion Inn, still no injury and now half way. The next section promised to be boggy and rocky, so perhaps I might lose a shoe or twist an ankle. I pressed on hopeful of an excuse to stop, after all I’d done half and running 20 miles in one day was enough! The bog arrived and I trudged on, quite a relief to have left the hot snake infested train line behind and at last be on the Lyke Wake I had expected. I mused how boggy this must be when it’s really wet, but not for me still blue sky, admittedly it was a bit boggy and tricky to leap over the wider bits as my legs had grown accustomed to their running shuffle gate. Various tracks lead eastward, all like post office queues seemed to be shorter than the one I was on. Amazingly the next checkpoint arrived, with me finding my support team reading a magazine and eating raspberries, whilst sunbathing, completely uncalled for sick behaviour, I grimaced. Still no bloody injuries and both my shoes! Annoyingly a refreshing breeze had kicked up to cool my last ten miles, this pleasentness was really starting to bug me, endless heather, black grouse, skylarks and curlews this is the Lyke Wake , it’s s’posed to be grim. I pressed on, leaving magazines and raspberries for others. Skirting the military base and arriving at Ulla cross I could see the finish, I could still see it much later, but it didn’t seem any closer! Finally I came to the last road crossing, a quick drink and a chat with a man who’d done the ‘double’ twenty years ago and I sprang across the road along the final section. The elements carried on their patronising kindness and I finally stepped into a bog that almost took my shoe off! Then I crested that final brow, lamenting if I’d gone the other way it’d be downhill to the finish, then there it was the Lyke Wake stone dwarfed by the radio mast, insignificant little thing that is loved by so many who finally arrive. Support crew excelled at this point apparently we had 1 hour to get to the campsite, get the tent up, shower and order food at the pub What a journey. Despite my reluctance it had been a great journey. Not the one I had expected, but I suspect that’s always the case.

Mike Hinson,Sedberg,Cumbria

April 2010.

“Good Friday” Crossing report – Paddy “The Axe” Hinton

I would humbly like to report that I Paddy (the Axe) Hinton, made an unsupported stone to stone crossing on 2nd April 2010, Good Friday an appropriate day if it is to be said as a day to do the Lyke Wake Walk.

At 4.45am we stood at the westerly end of the walk, the moon glistening over the lake, shadowy trees , wispy clouds and stars a perfect start to a very painful day. The Cleveland way was stunning if we could of seen it through the low cloud. A brief glimpse of the sun just after dawn sent shafts of light on to my trusty companion, lighting the hills and low clouds. Well that’s the highlights.

10 miles yea that’s ok , the old railway line in the fog that’s passable, doesn’t half go on though especially when you can’t see where you’re going. Frog spawn that’s what really springs to mind. When you get to 20ish you are glad its lunch time, get off those legs. The Lion was tempting the smell of cooking just wafts over as we got there, but a bit further earlier is a bit less later. We did wonder why anyone would need supporting, it wasn’t so bad.

The next 10.mmmmmmmm  Could have been worse, mud, stones, heather and people setting fire to heather. There was some heather and a bit more mud, followed by mud and heather. Its at this point Eccles and Bluebottle joined our conversation. “He’s fallen in the water”.

Oh look I cried, more heather. Details start to become dim about now Longer periods of silence and dark thoughts. Will my legs really fall off. The slope down to the stepping stones is an ow! moment. Stop for more food now or just do another mile or so. “STUPID, STUPID STUPID, idea. whose was it?”

AH. “a steam train ,a steam train,pissh-t-cuff,pissh-t-tcuff” , Ivor the engine and Idris the dragon get us another mile. That sheep is looking at me, do you think its part of the secret security cameras at Fylingdales. The conversation was getting a bit odd by now. Food IS a marvellous thing.

The last bit, the question on our lips who is the mysterious man going the other way, or is he just leaving foot prints of pyramid studs while walking backwards to confuse us. Oh look more heather, stones and mud. And just for fun rain. Again “STUPID, STUPID STUPID idea. whose was it?”. Legs no longer work, The last 4 miles were just murder. Absolute hateful murder. OH look another gully, one foot in front of painful other foot.

The endorphins coming up the other side though, whoopie, hit the main road, head torch on , more rain, emergency reserve hit the Kendal  mint cake. The last bit, it is there you just don’t know how far it goes on for ever.

20.45hrs  16hours after starting the LWW. arrive. Want Gin and Tonic.

1 day later never do it again. 3 days later might.



Hi Paddy,

Congratulations on getting across. Firstly, I must reveal that I was the torturer who laid down pyramidical studs ( A very old pair of ETA fell running shoes ) from Ravenscar to Osmotherley. I am trying to work out where we must have passed – somewhere near Rosedale Head would fit the bill. I was in blue shorts and shirt, covered in mud up to my waist and had adopted a somewhat stern expression after having been “smoked out” over the Western side of the bogs ( had the smoke been any denser, a compass would have been required ) – delirium was also setting in by then. Mind you, as my food at that time was somewhat low, I would have viewed your drowned  Bluebottle as much needed protein.

All the best,


27 March 2010 – Tory Thornton

I would like to report our crossing of the Lyke Wake Walk (otherwise known as never again! and who’s idea was that?) on Saturday 27th March.

Back in December 2009, someone I’m not sure who decided that the Lyke Wake Walk would be a good way to prepare for our honeymoon, we are climbing Kilimanjaro in July 2010!

So the date was set for the 27th March for myself (Tory Thornton), Robin Moran (future husband) and 2 (soon to be ex friends) Neil Braim and Stuart Gall to set out and complete the Lyke Wake Walk.

After an early start (3am pick up) we arrive at the Youth Hostel at Osmotherly at 4am – and set off on the 3 mile walk to the start…!

We get to the start (the official start) and off we trot, it is a beautiful morning, watching the sun come up and seeing the beautiful scenery, its chilly, but we are all wrapped up (can’t see my face on any of the photo’s! Only my scarf and hat!).  We have an early break at about 11am in the Lion Inn, I don’t think a bacon sandwich and pint of coke ever tasted quite so good.  We are soon back on the road with mere 28 miles to go!!  All is going well, the steep down hill at 28 miles, starts to smart on the fairly young legs and we rest for our squashed sandwiches and mars bars!

We push on to complete the longest 10 miles of my life! At 7 miles to go, we meet a support party for a group of walkers who have just reached them….thank you so much for the bottles of Lucozade and sausages rolls…they really helped us on!
The ground was soft and the walking was hard and at 36 and a half miles, I was hurting, the boys are giving me the option to get picked up…no way…not coming all that way to stop now!  We were on count down, 1 mile to go, half a mile to go, 800 metres to go (I get stuck and almost loose my boot)….400 metres to go…still can’t see the finish (its too dark)….finally I see the headlights of my mums car (I have never been more pleased to see the silver fiesta!).

Our finishing time 16 hours and 28 mins!

What an experience, and please don’t take offence when I say, never ever, again!

Many thanks


Hi Tory,

Many thanks for your crossing report – the very first received by us in 2010. Well done to you and the lads for toughing it out in somewhat sticky conditions. But, a serious word of warning – many a report is received with the words “never again”. I can proclaim from bitter experience that the peat enters the body through ones skin, enters the bloodstream and slowly rots what remains of ones common sense. Invariably, I receive a report several months later admitting to a lapse in resolve………..a further crossing. Beware……………………………..


Cleveland Social Services Report on The Brown Family Lyke Wake Walk crossing

The offence was unsupported and unsupportable and took place on 26 August 2009

The Parents: Neil (50), Ruth (51)
The Children: Sarah (18/19),  Alice(17), Clare (10);

The incidence of abuse lasted for 17hrs 40mins.  We have found photographic evidence of the physical scars but we will need longer to assess the lasting damage inflicted on the children.  They appear to be convinced that they have all become witches.

Conditions were wet and windy throughout; The party were aware that winds from Hurricane Bill were forecast to arrive soon after the planned start but this seems to have been ignored.  The only person who knew of their whereabouts was Don Brown, Neil’s father, who calls himself  a Doctor of Dolefulness, seems complicit in the family abuse and frankly lost his marbles many years ago.

According to the parents, Clare developed bad blisters around Hasty Bank.  Better parents might have checked she had her walking socks on but these had been left behind in a suitcase.  The party had no reserve plan in place and insisted that Clare continue to the finish, now only thirty one miles away.  Clare offered to find new parents.

Sarah was given a cheese sandwich to celebrate her 19th birthday at 11.08 sheltering in a flooded ditch near Rosedale Head.

Following further trouble in the Rosedale bogs, the parents belatedy inspected Clare’s feet.  The party’s entire medical pack consisted of two plasters.  The first plaster slipped off in the rain and all the other blisters were too big anyway.   After seeing Clare’s feet, no-one else felt much like taking their boots off.  Sarah was suffering from a torn muscle in her hip and Alicewas oozing bodily fluids from rubbing sores on her legs.  The parents’ insensitivity to their suffering seems criminal.

Therafter it appears family relations deteriorated.  Much of the remaining twenty miles involved existential discussions as whether it was possible to put one foot in front of the other, what was the point of the walk, whether death was better than Wheeldale Beck. Despite extensive family counselling, these matters remain unresolved.

We are awaiting psychologist’s reports on the alleged sighting by all three girls of a ‘blue man in the moss’ around 25 miles into the walk.  The suspicion of abuse is strong but the children’s drawings of the Blue Man are primitive and we are having to tread carefully if their evidence is to stand up in court.

The father lost the only compass the party had in Fylingdales Beck.  No reasons were given for this, though irresponsibility and incompetence come to mind.

After many hours of careful investigation we believe we have found the root causes of this abuse.  Under police interrogation, the father cracked and admitted his own father had once left him for many hours in the night somewhere in the depths of Jugger Howe when he was only seven.  Having now spoken to the father we find this entirely credible.

This is clearly how cycles of abuse get perpetuated over generations,  The mother has said she had always wanted to do the walk, shows no remorse and appears to be equally culpable.

We recommend the Parents are locked up for a very long time as there is a clear risk of re-offending.  It may be too late to save these children, but more worryingly we are hearing reports that there are others involved in this ‘club’, apparently communicating over the internet and using a variety of pagan badges and symbols to identify with each other.  There have been rumours that they occasionally congregate to celebrate acts of abuse.  Undercover officers dressed as monks in climbing boots have attempted to infiltrate but so far without success.

We are investigating with local police forces and our file remains open.

Neil Brown, Herts.

August 2009.

Royal Engineers Mapmakers – Toby Robins

I am reporting a crossing by three ex-forces fools.
We were all members of 42 survey regt, RE, which as the name suggests, were mapmakers by trade, also as fit as being a member of the Royal Engineers suggests.
Some time ago 2 of us set off in full enthusiasm and completed the first section with no difficulty. We then route marched the railway section making great time.
Stopped at the pub for a quick refreshment break and set off again still full of vim and completed the boggy section easily.
Then we set off towards blue man i’ th’ moss……..

We never found it…….

We followed the route as described but could find no stone of any description, we walked and walked and walked but could find nothing. we then saw a wood to our right which we thought was the plantation which should be on the left as it was the only one we could see on our map.
We checked the map and could not work out where we were to save our lives, for some strange reason our compass ‘was not working’, we set off still full of energy but not as much confidence, we walked into the afforementioned wood, for about 10 years (maybe a couple of hours) we walked into it getting more and more despirited as it should be quite small but was never ending.
We analysed the map turning it this way and that, upside down and sideways in the hope that we could make sense of it but could not work out where we were, our compass was still ‘broken’

Then suddenly we found that the map had…………..another side.
We turned it over and worked out where we were (heading the wrong way) and made our way out of the wood, only to see our support driving off.
We made it to the road and collapsed ready to hand our lives over to the moors when the van re-appeared after getting some petrol.
He suggested carrying on but that was not an option, straight home to cry into a beer, swearing to give it another go some time later.

Then 10 years later on 18th of july we gave it another go with our colleague and managed with only a little difficulty (still got lost in the same place but found our way back to the route (crossing some wierd alien landing site)) and a lot of wading managed to complete the route in only 16 hours finishing in the dark, swearing never to see the stupid moor again.
Therefore I am requesting that myself Toby Robins, Gavin Needham and our new colleague Simon Dowling (of Birmingham, Reading and Chesterfield respectively) the right to call ourselves Dirgers and my dad David Robins of Thirsk (nice and local) to call himself a Master of Misery as he has completed the course 4 times with a best time of 10hrs 48 mins. He also offered support on both attempts (if driving away in our hour of need is support) and has a great knowledge of the moors in general and the walk specifically which is the only reason we
completed it this time.

Yours in pain.

Toby Robins.

July 2009

21 June 2009 – Paul Keenan, Chris Chilvers and Rob Brown

At approximately 0615 hours, on the morning of 21st June 2009, three enthusiastic young men stood in the car park at the northern tip of Cod Beck Reservoir, near the starting point for the legendary Lyke Wake Walk. A distinguished gentleman, and indeed an experienced veteran of said walk, looked on. If they had seen the knowing glint in his eyes, they would have got straight back in the car.

The gent was one Brian Keenan, who had kindly decided to help plan and support the walkers, these being; Paul Keenan, Chris Chilvers and Rob Brown. All were 23 years of age and had been chums for far too long really, so they decided to jeopardise this friendship by walking together for a period of time longer than an art student dedicates to an end of term drinking session.

With the day sacks fully packed, the map ready and farewells exchanged, the three –  here after referred to as, ‘We’, with myself being Rob Brown – began walking at 0620 hours after sharing a photo at the trig point.

Immediately we took the wrong path. Sorry, I mean we decided to take a route that would bypass the hills. It was a genuine tactic that was totally planned and not at all a mistake.

In truth, somehow we missed theCleveland Waywithin 5 minutes of setting out and ended up on a direct course towards the Bilsdale TV mast. We cursed its existence and ability to hypnotize and control our minds, like the monoliths from ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’. It was the reason we went astray, a transmitter to Satan himself.

We really didn’t like the mast.

Eventually we pulled ourselves from its voodoo-like hold on our sense of direction, and found ourselves on route to Chop Gate. A number of Curlews followed us before our descent into the village, although we had no idea what they were at the time. The heavy early morning clouds had dispersed and the sky was clear blue, with the sun beating down. It would cloud over a few times but the weather that day was wonderful, with only an occasional but welcome breeze.

We passed through Chop Gate without event, save a quick stop for Chris to answer the call of nature in some bushes. We arrived at a fully functioning public toilet about 30 seconds later.

The final stretch before our first stop then lay in front of us: the B1257 from Stokesley to Helmsley. As we walked single file along the road, a great number of motorcycles passed us, some a little too close for comfort. A couple caught our eye, especially the one with a small trailer in the shape of a coffin, which we found quite apt. A sticker on the back said “WARNING – DEAD SLOW VEHICLE”.

Eventually we neared the stop at Clay Bank, where we spotted Brian stood with hands in pockets, looking upwards at the steps where he thought we’d descend from the Cleveland   Way. He absently turned to peer down the road just as we fully came into view. Even at around 200 metres away, we still managed to see his double take.

It had taken just under 4 hours to get to our first stop, an hour or so longer due to our detour. Nevertheless, we felt confident of our finishing in 15 hours, which is the time we had estimated it would take. So after a 20 minute rest and some food, we set off again.

The next stage of the walk up over Urra Moor and across to Blakey Ridge was steady going, with little to no breeze as the day heated up even more. This stretch was the busiest of the day, and walkers and cyclists of all ages passed us on the well-worn path. We reached Bloworth Crossing with relative ease, and despite Paul’s excellent map reading skills which told us we were in the right place, Chris and I had spotted the nearby sign telling us just that.

Continuing on our way, we eventually found ourselves at Blakey Ridge, and not long after, sat down in front of a shared plate of chips and some ice cold drinks at the Lion Inn. Wooden picnic benches had never felt so comfortable. From Clay Bank to there, it had taken just over three hours.

Socks were changed and sun lotion applied before we consulted with Brian as to which path was best to take from there. We took the path leading south east which would take us directly east across the northern end of Rosedale. After 5 minutes of walking, we reached the abandoned railway line that rannorth west– south east. Our path crossed it, yet didn’t seem to emerge on the other side of the disused line. After a brief wander north west on the line, we returned for Paul to notice a path that looked anything but ‘beaten’. However, it corresponded with the route on the map, so we continued. After a few minor detours, we concluded that due to the map not being recently purchased, some of the paths had changed (that’s right, blame the map!), although found ourselves back on track as we passed through Dale Head Farm. We turned east at this point and through a field with rams in it. Since I had been recently bitten fairly badly by a dog and also chased by a herd of cows, both whilst out running, I was somewhat nervous around livestock that day, and kept close to the stone wall in case anything decided to charge. We reached another Dale Head Farm which was strange, before taking the bridleway to Fryup all the way up the Eastern edge of Rosedaleand on to the county boundary line.

Things got a little sticky at this point, with wet bog-like conditions hampering our progress somewhat, as we struggled to find a dry route through large pools of standing water and thick muddy stretches of path. It was of course me that ended up shin-deep in what smelt like peat, although this didn’t matter as it may have been custard for all I cared. Shortly after clearing the boggy region, we picked up the pace considerably and arrived at the Blue Man-i-th’-Moss stone in good time. By this point everyone was starting to feel pretty tense and sore from the waist down, with Paul’s knee feeling the strain: going up was ok for him, but downhill was hell. This made the descent to Wheeldale Beck and staying on the stepping stones over it a bit of a challenge, but grimaces of pain were kept internal as we passed the lodge. Mine and Paul’s legs were both scratched and sunburnt, but everyone was tired and worn now.

Nevertheless all three of us ploughed on and eventually cleared the brow of the eastern edge of the dale to see the great wedge of Dutch Edamthat was the MOD early warning station. The distant landmark had taunted us for hours and now we were nearly there. Chris had packed some good quality two-way radios, one for us, the other for Brian. As we neared Ellerbeck Bridge our attempts to contact him and locate his whereabouts ended in much crackling and hissing. I think we all wondered just who was listening to that conversation…or maybe it was just me.

We gingerly descended towards the A169 and crossed the railway line, before crossing the road in an almost drunken state to the car which was parked near the gate on the bridge itself. After walking for over 4½ hours, this rest was sorely needed – no pun intended. However, we had another visitor who turned up unannounced to support us… by bringing fresh supplies of discomfort and misery.


The hot day and nearby beck had brought them out in droves, and they tortured us. They were in our tea and hair, and on our food and skin – just everywhere. This was very nearly the final straw. If there’s ever a warning this report could give, then here it is: if it is a hot summer’s evening, then DON’T stop on the actual bridge itself unless you want to be in serious discomfort by being eaten alive. We still have nightmares.

This aside, we probably gained some extra protein from the amount of the critters we ate by accident, and it certainly stirred up our anger and determination to finish; so, it wasn’t long till we donned the packs for the last, and by far the most arduous and painful stretch of our walk.

I was navigating for the last section, and as I was tired and not the most confident map reader, we had a few pauses to check we were on the right path. We followed the beck with ease before the fence to our right dropped away and Fylingdales moor opened up before us, and all the while Lilla Cross stood at the brow of the hill before us, silhouetted against the failing light of the day which hung in a band beneath the dark heather and encroaching darkness from above and behind.

Following the tracks between the white marker posts and the beck, we made it most of the way up and across the moor, although it wasn’t particularly easy going. The sludgy ground proved a problem when combined with our fatigue, and there were many slips and slides. Eventually, we spotted a small road running almost level with our course. By this point the white markers had ceased, and as it was near, we took one of the many capillary-like paths from our track towards it. The road was good, although any small stones now felt like needles on the soles of our feet. After a few minutes on the road we passed a sign, and strangely we all knew what it would say: ‘MOD PROPERTY – KEEP OFF’, to paraphrase. We didn’t care, and dragged ourselves onwards.

Eventually, we made Lilla Cross. The coast lay before us, along with the mast and the finish point. It was a stirring sight anyway, but lifted our spirits to know that we nearly there.

We had a brief stop to take photos and rest our legs before beginning the long gradual descent to Jugger Howe Beck. Although we could see the mast and effectively the finish, what made us more excited was that we were didn’t have to refold the map to see both our position and the end. This was quite sad really, but we were tired and needed all the confidence boosts we could get. All of us were chuntering on, singing and joking away about anything and everything to keep us going.

Wisps of dark blue and purple cloud filled the sky above us, as night began to draw in. After two hours of walking, the sky behind was not only dark, but looked ominous. For it to rain now would be the bitter lemon icing on a cake already laced with Marmite. So we dug deep inside and did what anyone in considerable mental and physical pain would do… we popped some pills and rang our girlfriends and mothers to cheer ourselves up. Ibuprofen pills that is, for our aches and pains. It worked a treat when it fully kicked in over half an hour later.

The map wasn’t really needed, although I nervously kept checking; to go wrong now wouldn’t be wise. However, the path was directly east, and any worries were instantly ended by getting a quick bearing.

We came to Jugger Howe in a cloud of controlled pain and determination. The mast had fallen out of sight as the gradient increased more and more and dropped down towards the steps to the beck, but we knew this was the final push. We crossed the water, climbed the far side and reached the old abandoned road that led towards the A171. The clouds and darkness had caught up with us, but thankfully there was no rain as we reached the current road and the edge of Fylingdales moor. The passing headlights of cars caught us and God knows what a miserable bunch we must have looked like.

Everyone was in high spirits, yet very tired. The last 2½ km was the most painful for myself, although all three of us were feeling it. By the time we crossed the road the twilit sky was nearly fully dark, so the mast seemed even more distorted and distant as it rose into view again. At this point many would look back over the day, but we said little and pushed on. The mast grew and grew in size along with our sense of achievement. The few things we did talk of on this stretch was our amazement at people who could finish, and then turn round and walk back again, and of people who could run it.

And before we knew it, there was the mast before us, nestled between dark bushes. Strange how one mast led us astray, and another draws us to success. At the end of the path was Brian, stood in front of the car. We walked up to the mast, realised there was nowhere else to go, and sighed a collective sigh of happiness, satisfaction and exhaustion. Paul and Chris checked their watches and confirmed that it was nearly 11.25, meaning that it had taken just under 17 hours and 5 minutes; 2 hours longer than we planned. We had done it.

Photos were quickly taken in the headlights of the car, before someone said something about walking to the Raven Hall Hotel as it was an optional finish point. This received a laugh that would have been long and hearty, had we had the energy. Then it was off for home, and not a moment too soon.

Looking back, the day was brilliant. A legendary, mighty and honourable challenge was undertaken and completed by three great friends and their excellent support, against the backdrop of one of the most striking, atmospheric and beautiful places in the world – at least for us anyway.

And who knows, we may just do it again someday.

Thank you.

Yours sincerely,

Robert Brown (report author and supplies)
Paul Keenan (support and route organiser)
Chris Chilvers (supplies and communication)

Thesis for the Degree of Doctor of Dolefulness – David Gordon

Thesis presented at the Court of the Most Mournful


on the Occasion of the Thirty-fifth Anniversary Wake October 6, 1990.

Section   1:  ABSTRACT

In view of recent erroneous published statements, a demand may arise for commercial Coffin-carrying services along the Lyke Wake Walk. A feasibility study of various means of Coffin-transport is presented, together with suggestions for the instigation of an integrated leisure infrastructure facility as a means of funding the service.


“Corpse roads exist throughout the Dales… The most famous of all is the one that runs from Osmotherley to Raven Scar known as the Lyke Wake Walk, along which corpses were carried forty miles.”

Mike  Harding, Walking  the Dales  P57.

While “accurate” is hardly an adjective that could be applied to the above quotation, and it is perhaps no coincidence that Mike Harding claims to have been born in Lancashire, it must be admitted that he is a popular author and television personality, and that people will tend to believe what he writes. I feel that there is a real danger, in this age when city dwellers long to return to their traditional country roots and the Dalesman is avidly read throughout what used to count as the Empire, that a demand may arise for a Corpse-carrying facility along the Walk. Although a number of Crossings appear to have been made carrying Coffins, the carrying of a Corpse, particularly a corpulent city-dweller type Corpse, is an entirely different matter. It is therefore important for the Club (as Custodians of the Route) to possess a contingency plan for the time when these demands are made.

I propose to set out in Section 3 below a plan for the safe and efficient accomplishment of the appointed task, and in Section 4 to suggest means of funding the Works involved.


It is clear that without considerable modification of the terrain (eg. construction of a six-lane highway), one single mode of transportation will not be sufficient. Transshipment of Corpses will need to take place at various stations along the Way.

Assuming traditional transportation from West to East, as detailed in the Dirge itself, the first section of the “Classic   Route” presents challenges (for a more Southerly variant, see below). It is probably feasible to utilise Land-Rovers with demountable hearse-style bodies as far as Huthwaite, and the local Rescue Land-Rovers might well be utilised as dual-purpose chassis units, but the hill thereafter poses a problem. The obvious solution is a narrow-gauge rack railway to the top of Carlton Bank, where the Corpse could be transferred either to a military style “Death Slide” down a steel rope, or to a helter-skelter type of steel slide. The Coffin would need to be accompanied on the latter, and the local children might be prevailed upon to dress in black (probably in black Lycra cycling shorts, I suspect) and to accompany descending Coffins on a rota basis. A further alternative would be a “water slide” of the type now popular at swimming pools and “leisure centres”, but this would entail the waterproofing of Coffins. At the road the Coffin would be transferred to a horse-drawn sled for progress along the jet miners’ track and up onto Urra Moor and Botton Head.

As a cheaper alternative for this first section, a Corpse could be taken by Landrover up the Drove Road onto Osmotherley Moor, then by way of the shooting tracks to Cock Howe, transferring there to pony and sled for conveyance down into the valley and up to Botton Head.

At the firebreaks the Land Rover could take over again, but a far more imaginative idea would be to construct a railway line as far as the Lion Inn, This could convey tourist traffic, shooting parties etc but would have a special hearse carriage for coffins. There could be a separate miniature version, to carry the Corpses of Grouse, but see below.

At the Lion Inn a section of the building (probably the new extension would lend itself most conveniently) could be turned into a Chapel of Ease, where the Corpse would rest while the Mourners refreshed themselves. This is important, for the most troublesome section is to come. Conveyance across, or indeed through, the Rosedale Bogs poses formidable problems, but these could probably be solved by keeping a strong team of Club Members permanently stationed at the Lion on a rota basis. These could carry, drag or float the Corpse across the bogs as far as the Wheeldale Hilton, as it will become known. Here a specially adapted monorail, similar to the one at Alton Towers and sponsored by Coca-Cola, will collect the Corpse and whisk it and its Mourners, with of course a superb view of the entire Goathland Moor Pleasure Park Complex (or “Great Yorkshire Adventure” as it will be known), to the car and heli-park at Jugger Howes. More specially-adapted Land-Rovers could then complete the journey across Stony Marl Moor to Ravenscar, where such Corpses as remain intact could be quietly dumped into the sea.


It is clear that the income from undertaking fees alone, vast though it can be, will not be sufficient to finance the necessary works. I therefore envisage that an integrated leisure infrastructure plan will be drawn up in conjunction with the National Park Authority and the various Landowners. Such a plan will of course attract considerable investment in the form of grant aid, and this will in turn make it attractive to the private investor. This plan will be twofold, consisting firstly of improvements necessitated by the actual implementation of the Club’s transport plans, and secondly of further improvements to the tourism infrastructure network which are designed to result in the generation of the required income.

To the first category belong the specific funeral parlour arrangements at Osmotherley, the Lion Inn and Ravenscar; the adaptation of. the Rescue Land Rovers to take a demountable Hearse-style body; the building of the rack railway and death slide (if required) at Near Moor and Carlton Bank; stabling for the ponies needed on the various horse-sled sections; accommodation for grooms, and for the teams of Pallbearers to be stationed at the Lion Inn; the rebuilding (to Light Railway standards) of the Rosedale Railway and of course the construction of the Monorail Link from Wheeldale to Jugger Howes, with a viaduct crossing of Jugger Howe Beck.

The above improvements will not be immediately self-financing, but need to be viewed in the context of my second category of proposals: the legitimate leisure developments which will help to cross-finance the core programme. Clearly there is a need for the development of the facilities currently available at Carlton Bank. It is ludicrous to expect the people of Helmsley and Chop Gate to travel all the way toTeesside Airport when they can have a perfectly viable STOL airport on their very doorstep. This will provide regular hourly links with the London Docklands, and indeed with the rest of Europe, and should attract much needed industrial and office development to the immediate area. The citizens of Huthwaite can expect particularly to benefit from their rack railway link to the airport, seeing the value of their land rise steeply as the need for housing for the airport workforce and security officers, and later for the jet-setting Yuppie migrants, becomes apparent. The facility for the flying in of expatriate Corpses will also provide a welcome boost to the Club’s marketing strategy.

A further entirely appropriate development will take place on the North­east slopes of Carlton Bank, which presents an ideal site for an international Motor Cycle Scrambling Centre, with star riders being flown in to the new Airport above in their executive jets.

In the centre of the planned route, the reopened Ironstone Railway will become a major tourist attraction, thanks to an imaginative hands-on interpretative exhibition at the Rosedale Mines and the modern interchange facility at Battersby Junction Parkway Station (including an enlarged booking hall with franchised convenience operatives such as Tie Rack, Knickerbox and MacDonalds). This attraction will complement the existing North York Moors Railway, while the use of steam haulage throughout is expected to eliminate the need for much of the present chore of heather-burning, sparks from the locomotives providing an alternative source of ignition. Towards the end of the Tourist Season, the line will come into its own for Grouse shooting, with special low-loader wagons to carry Range-Rovers and a miniature Hearse Wagon for Grouse Corpses.

Probably not much can be done at present to improve the Rosedale Bogs, but one might at a future stage of the development wish to consider their adaptation as a watersports centre, specialising in a new combination of windsurfing and hang-gliding. However any problems here will be more than compensated for by the spectacular “honeypot” development potential of the Fylingdales EWS area. Since the site is no longer of strategic importance, following the demise of the Soviet Empire, the existing pyramid and dome structures will be utilised as the basis of an Alton Towers style pleasure complex, to be marketed as “The Great Yorkshire Adventure”. This extensive improvement will include a vast state-of-the-art Corkscrew roller coaster at Jugger Howe Beck, an extended water-slide from Lilla Howe down to the main road, the replacement of Lilla Cross with a 300-metre high replica incorporating viewing platform restaurant and multiple high-speed lifts, a five mile mud flume, where clients will ride on logs of bog-oak along artificial waves of liquid bog, white water rapid thrills on the Murk Esk and much, much more. Central to this facility will be a giant Car Park/Helipad at Jugger Howes – a former military site which is at present an unreclaimed eyesore, but which will now be given tasteful landscaping and a proper minesweeping, with provision for a Superstore and a giant artificial ski-slope to be incorporated into the scheme at a later stage if demand warrants them. The Car Park will be linked by the Park Monorail (sponsored by Coca-Cola) to the five-thousand bed Wheeldale Lodge Hilton. So attractive to investors is this complex likely to prove, with a potential clientele prepared to travel huge distances, from Glasgow in the Far North to Milton Keynes in the Deep South, that no public money will need to be involved.

A further and very welcome consequence of these developments is likely to be the removal of troublesome Walkers from the over-used Moorland Paths, which will be able to return to their natural uneroded condition as picturesque firebreaks and Land-Rover tracks. The Walkers will be relocated in the “Trackless knee-high heather moor”, which is where the Lyke Wake Walk started. Following the assessment of the plan by our financial advisors, outline planning consent is actively being sought on the above basis, and a decision from the Authorities is expected in the near future.