Lyke Wake Walk in Memory of Greta Fowler 11 – 12 June 2016
40 miles of walking and 5000 feet of climbing all completed within twenty-four hours just to earn a badge and the title of “witch” – would any members of Girlguiding North East England be mad enough to take up the challenge?
Indeed eight members were and their adventure started at 5.00 am on a damp, muggy Saturday as they touched the Lyke Wake stone in Osmotherley and wondered if they would eventually touch a similar stone 40 miles away across the North Yorkshire Moors in Ravenscar before 5.00 am on Sunday morning.
The walk starts off following the Cleveland Way which we followed full of energy and chatting away getting to know everyone in the group. Sadly a very grey cloudy morning meant the views were virtually non-existent but at least the rain just about kept away.
Having climbed up over the Wain Stones we eventually descended to our first check point and were met by Angie Goddard (Region Archivist) and her husband. They walked with us for some distance and showed us some photos of Greta Fowler completing the walk in the 1970’s to raise funds for the region standard we still use today.
The weather lifted somewhat and as the miles passed we had views over Westerdale Moor and Farndale Moor and after five miles walking on a disused railway line we reached the Lion Inn at Blakey Ridge. We had a well-earned rest in the car park while having our lunch and giving our feet some freedom from socks and walking boots! Not quite sure what the wedding guests made of us as we made use of the pub facilities though!
Refuelled by fresh socks, a short rest and some food and knowing we were nearly half way there, we set off again with renewed energy. At this point we were beginning to think we may see some sunshine – bit too optimistic though!
Soon after lunch we were due to meet the “boggy section”. Reading the guidebook while walking along, it is recommended that you travel fairly light over this section if possible leaving heavy rucksacks with the back-up crew”. Well too late for that so we just had to soldier on and hope for the best! We were going to either bounce over the boggy section or sink in up to our knees. Luckily for us the weather had been kind and most of the time we bounced over the peat which was quite a welcome change for our weary feet!
On we trekked over Rosedale Moor, Wheeldale Moor, passing the “famous” Blue Man-i’-th’-Moss standing stone. We could just about make out RAF Fylingdales on the distant horizon and did wonder if it would every get any closer. Eventually we could see the smoke from the steam train which was passing on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway as we made our way down to Eller Beck. Another quick rest and refuel here although some of us didn’t dare sit down in case we could not get up again and off we went again.
Soon conditions began to deteriorate and visibility became very poor and it was difficult to pinpoint landmarks from the map so we needed to rely on the expert map and compass work of Amy and Hazel who got us all safely across the next stage.
As night fell, the rain started and things became very slippery underfoot. It was about 10.30 pm before we eventually had to resort to using torches to see where we were going. Conversations became almost non-existent as everyone concentrated on keeping upright while trying to negotiate very narrow muddy tracks through the heather and uneven slippery stones as we made some steep descents, all by torch light.
Our route had been over 7 printed out maps and a cheer went up as it was announced we had reached map 7, the very last map so we could not be that far from the end at last! One advantage of walking in the dark and poor visibility, you cannot judge how steep some of the ascents are as you cannot see the top which is quite useful when your legs are weary! We eventually met the A171 road and knew the end was really in sight, only about 2 miles away. A quick refuel here while trying to keep moving around so we did not stiffen up completely and off we went for the last stretch.
Still in the pouring rain, we eventually reached and touched the Lyke Wake stone in Ravenscar at 1.10 am on the Sunday morning, elated but exhausted. Had we really been walking for 20 hours, it seemed unbelievable. We were then ferried to Ravenscar village hall where we all collapsed into our sleeping bags after being given our Lyke Wake walk badges (we all know all Guiding members love a badge)!
Huge thanks have to go to Debbie Sherratt, the Region walking adviser for making this event possible and for all the hours she spend sitting in her car in an area with mobile phone reception, Jane Murray and Anne Esslemont for their fantastic work as our back up team and Angie Goddard for giving her support by walking with us. Equally huge thanks go to Hazel Stancliffe and Amy Chilvers for their fantastic night navigation skills for getting us across the Moors when the visibility was non-existent.
Would I do the walk again? Not sure I need to, been there, done that and have the badge and the blisters to prove I have done it and am really pleased I have completed the challenge. I have offered to be part of the back-up crew next year though so if anyone else is up for the challenge………………..
Rachel Lamond, Region Outdoor Adviser