Tuesday, 31 August 2021

Three men and a moor

This is the story of The Lyke Wake Walk - 40 miles across the highest and widest part of the North York Moors.

Dwix, PC and I planned to do this walk over the bank holiday weekend. Unlike Hadrian's walk, Dwix did all the planning, all I had to do was turn up and walk! He planned it so we would camp two nights at the same place and do a car shuffle each day to allow us to walk across the moor. Our plan was day 1, Ravenscar to Wheeldale (12 miles), Wheeldale to Clay bank (18 miles) and Clay bank to Ostmotherley (12 miles) - sounds easy enough!

It is a challenge walk, supposedly undertaken in 24 hours (assume continuous), however we were doing it in three days and at a good pace. We met people who had started at 1am and were doing it in one go. Even chatted with a guy that said his fastest time was 11 hours, I replied simply with a "f@$k that!!"

We met at about 0830 on Saturday at the side of a Roman road. I left my car, and Dwix drove us to Ravensacar so we could start. The official start is the pub in the Ravenscar Hotel, as it was 10am we started at the gates outside. A lovely view of Robin Hoods bay left us as we headed West.

A minor navigation error in the first few hundred metres meant we back tracked a little, this was met with a few laughs and confidence in Dwix's map reading skills. We were soon heading up onto the moors, the phrase "up onto the" is going to be implied alot, but I will try not to type it too much. Dwix saying "its up here", was usually followed by me and PC replying "of course its up here!!"

A steady walk across moorland, some trails and tracks soon had us stopping for lunch. A nice bench providing a seat and a great view of the North Yorks steam train made for a perfect stop. 

We continued along the yellow brick path (really it was) and the chatter and laughter kept our spirits up. The day ended with a ravine crossing! up a very steep bank through thick ferns with very little path, this was serious walking, that I likened to Jurassic park! PC pointing out, "I hope there are no dinosaurs", we didn't see any, but there could be some still out there. 

The car shuffle then started, we drove in my car back to Dwix's car, but instead of going straight to the campsite and doing the shuffle in the morning, we went and parked my car at the end point of day two, we were then ready to start in the morning. After all of that, we went to the camp site. It was fairly busy with lots of families enjoying the sun. It was boiling, and the tent went up as easy as the cold beers went down. Showers followed and we headed to the pub. Not to be out done with alliteration, the evening followed Pate, Pie and Pints - perfect!

Some Bourbon under the skies and it was soon bedtime, still only nine something, but a long day awaited us tomorrow. 

Day two started with a 5. Dwix getting up and making hot drinks and breakfast as PC and I got ready. With lunch made, breakfast eaten it was back to Wheeldale to start the day. When we got out the car it was freezing. The wind was blowing hard across the barren moor and it was Baltic!! A big change from the sunny hot day yesterday. With jumpers and coats on we set off.

It was not only the weather that was different on day two, there was also a distinct lack of path at the start. We had about an hour of wading through knee high Heather just to make our way across the moor, eventually we found a path. As we walked past a dense forest, our voices echoed off the trees. The terrain changed several times from moorland to bog!! A couple of times we were boot deep (plus a bit over) in water or squelching mud!! this was proper walking! 

After a classic slip in mud by Dwix - no pic sadly, the boggy terrain finally gave way to road, and we could finally see civilisation - An old Castlemaine XXXX advert going over in my head, "Snowy, I can see the pub from here!!"
We arrived at the Lion Inn at 11:30, but it didn't open until midday. We took off our boots and sat outside to eat our lunch. By midday we were ready to walk again, so without a pint (I know!!, CRAZY) we decided to leave the sheltered spot and we carried on our way.

The track now was an old railway, flat and stony. Here we were able to pick up the pace and we soon motored towards the highest point of the North Yorkshire Moors at Urra Moor at 454 metres. 

It was always 'just over the next ridge' to the end, and eventually after several ridges, the car park was in sight. An extremely steep downhill (whoop) path got us to the end point for the day.
We didn't prep the car shuffle tonight, we would do that in the morning. We dropped PC back at camp to boil eggs for tomorrow whilst Dwix and I collected his car. Within an hour we were all back at camp, showering and drinking beer. I had booked a table at a local curry house in Beadlam - we called it "Bedlam" what could be more apt?!?

After an amazing curry, my groin had seized up. I could barely walk. The only way I could move was by walking backwards! We laughed all the way to the pub and had a night cap there. This cured me and I was then able to walk back to the tent, I went straight to bed as Dwix and PC and another night cap or two. We all went to bed, but slept a little as our tent neighbours decided they would not sleep at all!

Our day three is most people's start, as usually the walk is done West to East. However, Dwix and always (twice now) go to East to West and never in rainy weather. The reason for starting in the East is that the hardest part of the walk is at the start when walkers are at their freshest. Oops, we were not at our freshest, although the methane curry energy helped us! This section of the walk is described as "the rollercoaster" 700 metres up and 800 metres down steep cliffs for many miles. Just the treat PC deserved on his birthday!

A few snoozes on the alarm and we finally got up. Breakfast and lunch made we packed away the tent and all our stuff. Leaving the campsite behind, we set off. We parked my car is Osmotherley and drove back to Clay bank to start. The roads were slow and winding and not helped by the rain. By the time we parked up it was raining proper and even getting booted up in the car didn't help. It was rain coats on, hoods up and onwards uphill. 
This was the most difficult part of the walk, the continuous climbing up rocky steps taking its toll on my pace, I was doing 2 miles an hour max! The first hour we did not even manage two miles distance. The flat parts allowed us to regain some energy and we were soon getting into it.

A clearing in both the weather and terrain found us at a car park, a sign declaring "hot pies" - this was not to be missed and we sat undercover and had an amazing steak and ale pie each!
The climbs were relentless but after what seemed like an age, especially the last "two miles", we arrived in Osmotherley. A pint awaited us and was most welcome. One last car shuffle back to collect Dwix's car and we were ready to bid farewell.

A great walk and great to enjoy it with old friends. There is five of us in our old school group of friends, maybe next blog I will be introducing you to two more stupid nicknames??!.......


  1. That's probably the sensible way to do the Lyke Wake Walk. I've only ever done it in one go including a there-and-back in 24hrs, but that was many many years ago.

    1. Wow. I salute you!! The last (or first bit) was bloody tough. Was awesome to split it and spend time with mates too.

    2. I know how hard the Ravenscar end can be as I sprained both ankles, on different occasions, at that end. It did get a bit silly up there though with crowds of people moving in both directions there seemed to be just one endless queue of people on weekends. Nice to see that it's still an enjoyable walk though.

    3. We didn't see many people considering it was a bank holiday. Busy around the car parks but not on the moors.