Monday, 28 July 2014

Lyke Wake Walk June 2014

Regular readers may recognise a theme. But this is not a repeat, but a tale of another crossing of the North York Moors legend that is the Lyke Wake Walk. Our third crossing in eight months no less. As with our previous two crossings, Dave, Claire and I chose not to use a support party, carrying all our supplies as well as stashing some bottles of water on the moors for later.

For me this was the first Summer crossing, having previously done  the walk in decent to terrible Winter weather. This time around, conditions were pretty much perfect. We picked the longest day of the year, on a decent but not too hot day, after a relatively dry spell.

We set off on Friday night at abut 9:45pm from Cod Beck reservoir just outside Osmotherley. We missed out on a photo at the LWW stone as a large walking group decided to hold a meeting there before setting off on their own expedition. It wouldn't have hurt to move over and let us have the stone for a minute, but these guys weren't about to budge, and so we set off, having a good old moan right from the outset.

I have to say it was a real joy to start the walk in daylight. Not only could we see where we were going, but we were soon treated to a beautiful sunset. There aren't many occasions when Teesside gets described as attractive but this is definitely one of them.

Shortly after we were heading up the first of the Cleveland Hills, making the steep climb up to Live Moor and onto Carlton Bank. By now the light had failed and the headtorches came into action. It was fairly cool for the time of year, ideal walking conditions. We grabbed a bite to eat at the trig point of Carlton Bank before heading down and back up Cringle End.

When we passed the Lord Stones site, we could hear the merriment of people headed home after their night out, but our night was only just starting. We had an interesting moment as we headed towards the Wainstones, walking through a field of cows that were eerily silent as they watched us tramp across their patch. The Wainstones were spectacular even in the dark and this is definitely a place to explore independently of a LWW crossing.

After the Wainstones and the next hill Hasty Bank we had the long steady climb up Urra Moor over Round Hill and over to Bloworth Crossing, before getting some speed up on the railway track. We took the "new short cut", cutting onto the moors to our left over towards Ralph Cross, rather than following the track to the Lion Inn. Although we did lose the path here and there, this was definitely a good time saver. By now the sun was coming up for what promised to be a glorious day.

We stopped for some food at the foot of Fat Betty, before heading along the road to meet the boggy section....

Which was about as dry as you can get! The peat bog was bouncy, pleasant underfoot and great fun to cross. There was the occasional marshy patch and I don't think that the pond not too far from Shunner Howe will ever dry out, but this section was a real highlight of the walk as it was so easy to cross.

The dry ground continued over the road and the path up to Blue Man I' th' Moss was fine too. After Blue Man, it does get rocky making this section possibly the most challenging terrain under foot. The views open right up over towards Flyingdales, but it is a little deceptive as what looks like a fairly flat vista ahead of you hides the fact that Wheeldale is just ahead.

This deep little valley is very scenic, but hard work, with a steep climb down to the stepping stones over Wheeldale Beck. I took the opportunity to take my boots and socks off to dip my feet into the Beck and this was an amazing sensation, totally refreshing. With the sun on our faces and a nice sandwich, this was a beautiful place to stop for a breather.

But the LWW wasn't anywhere near done with us and so we made the steep ascent up to Simon Howe. In the past this has felt like a hard slog - especially when the bank up is wet and slippery, but this time it didn't hurt quite as much. When we get to Simon Howe it really feels like you are well over the halfway mark, and for me this is quite a motivator - all of a sudden the Fylingdales monster isn't a speck in the distance but right there a mile or two ahead.

A look at the clock told us that we were making excellent progress and that also meant that we would get to our pub and hostelry in good time - that's pretty much all we needed to spur us on.There were quite a few people at the layby at Fylingdales a mix of support parties and rail enthusiasts. Just over the road, for an unexplained reason there was a man asleep near the RAF boundary fence. Definitely an odd place and time for forty winks!

The newly cleared path up alongside Little Eller Beck made the section up to Lilla Cross nice and straightforward - the last thing you need when you are exhausted is to go and get lost waist deep in heather!

The dry weather also meant that the rough terrain beyond Lilla Cross was not the heavy wet nightmare that it can  be, but at this point fatigue was setting in and made this section the toughest and dullest part of the walk.

You would have thought that the steep ravine of Jugger Howe that follows would be hell but somehow I don't mind it. I love the scenery here, plus the knowledge that the end is more or less within reach makes it not feel so bad.

However once the ravine is crossed, there is some tough path and road walking to be done and at this stage I knew there were some blisters coming into play. We hit the A171 road, knowing that we only had another couple of miles to go, and that there was a nearby pub with soft beds and cold beer awaiting. Although this last section was quite a killer for myself and Claire as we had both amassed a fair old collection of blisters, it was still a celebratory climb up to the mast.

Sixteen hours and five minutes after setting off from Osmotherley we had once again completed the Lyke Wake Walk, with plans for the next crossing already hatching.

Thanks again to my long suffering partners in crime Claire and Dave. Always a winning team!

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