What happens when three outdoors loving bloggers get together for the weekend in the North Yorkshire Moors? A mammoth hike, that’s what!
The Lyke Wake Walk is a 40 mile linear walk across the North Yorkshire Moors, taking hikers from Osmotherly on the west side to Ravenscar on the east. The traditional route is pretty much a straight line between the two villages, and includes all kinds of terrain – the trek goes over several peaks, across moorland, through marshland (and I mean “through”!), along tracks and rural roads, and across streams and rivers (with and without bridges).
I think I’m okay to say that this isn’t a recreational hike that most people would attempt on a Sunday afternoon (which is probably why we didn’t see many others along the route, especially on Sunday afternoon!). Rather, it is a challenge hike, something to achieve, one of those bucket list walks that people do because they want to see if they can push themselves beyond a normal day hike. It’s not one of the most popular long distance hikes in the UK – there are many that are longer and tougher – but it’s a great hike with plenty amazing scenery to keep things interesting every step of the way. At 40 miles it’s not as long as walks like the Coast to Coast, but as far as challenges go this one will test any hiker.
The starting stone of the Lyke Wake Walk, just outside Osmotherley.
After postponing our attempt at this challenge back in June, thanks to some spectacular storms that hit North Yorkshire, we changed our plans slightly. Instead of attempting the hike in the24 hour challenge time limit, we decided to slow down a bit and stop half way for a sleep in a local B&B. This would still be a challenge not to be underestimated, but would be much less stressful and, the main reason for changing, much more enjoyable. Jenni and I love to hike, and we wanted to make sure we had time to stop and look and smell and take in everything that was around us. The change in date also meant we had another hiker join us, Allysse, taking our team to three – the perfect girly weekend away in my eyes!
The view from Sevenford House looking down at Rosedale Abbey.
I should give a special mention to the B&B we chose at this point. A seriously good choice made by Jenni, quite a find! Sevenford House in Rosedale Abby has amazing views, was pretty much bang on half way along the walk (about 10 minutes drive from Rosedale Head just up the other side of the valley), was great value for money, offered good sized accommodation including a lounge for guests with an open fire and comfy sofas, and the owner provided the perfect breakfast to fuel our hiking fun. The owners are keen hikers themselves and have a plethora of maps for guests to browse over a cup of tea. We stayed for two nights – the Friday night before we started the hike, and the Saturday night at the half way point. I will be back there for a more leisurely stay some time, and would definitely recommend it if you want to explore the area. So nice.
I digress, although for good reason.
The Cleveland Way and Lyke Wake Walk.
“Starting Selfie” at Osmotherley. Me, Allysse and Jenni ready to get going.
After a relaxing night in Rosedale and an exceptional breakfast on Saturday morning we got ourselves sorted and headed out on our hiking adventure. The first task was to get a car to the days end point at Rosedale Head before going on to Osmotherley and the official start point of the Lyke Wake Walk – about an hour. While the Lyke Wake Walk isn’t officially way marked (although work on that does seem to have started, with a number of little black coffin shaped markers with “LWW” on them noticeable along the route), there is a stone at the start and another at the end. The start is just north of the village, just beyond the village boundary and reservoir. By the time we got there and took our “starting selfie” it was 10am. Our only aim was to complete the 20-22 miles before nightfall (by 7pm), plenty of time to enjoy the hike but not to hang around, so we got going.
What happens when bloggers go walking… many photo stops!
Uneven and steep. All part of the fun.
Up up up. Photo by Allysse.
Most of the first day – at least the first 12 miles or so – followed the Cleveland Way, which made it very easy to navigate. The paths were obvious and very well way marked, there were other walkers on the route, and we got into our stride rather well. We marched along the lane to start with before making our way along woodland paths, across fields and meadows, over rivers, up moss covered steps, through muddy puddles. We chatted about all kinds of things, took a whole load of photos, snacked and sipped water like good hikers. There were two steep climbs in fairly quick succession, both took us over 400m above sea level and made my lungs wheeze just a little bit more than I’d have liked, but each provided rather fantastic views as our reward. Down was harder than up thanks to uneven and slippery stone steps and muddy paths, but we each took things at our own medium pace and were never very far from each other.
The first trig point of many over the weekend. And some great vies, always.
Jenni heading down the first big ascent.
After the second big ascent we had a bit of a muddy walk alongside a plantation. We made good use of the guide book and decided to stop around check point two for lunch – just about our half way point for the day. As we came out of the woodland area I had a rather nice surprise as LincsGeek was stood there waiting for us! He had ridden up from Lincolnshire on his motorbike to see how we were getting on. It was pretty cool to have a bit of support, and definitely made me smile. He was also able to take our rubbish away with him which was handy!! We did actually see a bit of litter on our hike, which was a real shame – I don’t understand how runners and mountain bikers think it’s ok to chuck those foil gel packets on the floor when they finish them; you carried it that far, stick the rubbish back in your pocket and stop littering the countryside with brightly coloured metal! Yuk! If you enjoy the outdoors enough to trek miles and miles, at least leave it as you found it. Hmph.
Just checking. Photo by Allysse.
The Cleveland Way was in really great condition.
Weather wise we were very lucky; we were blessed with two beautiful crisp Autumn days with clear blue skies at times, cloud at other times, a cool breeze but no real wind to speak of, and some lovely sunshine to warm our bodies as we trundled along. Jenni took her fleece off and put it back on again more times than I can remember, but I managed to stay warm enough and cool enough as needed, which was great actually, probably a testament to the Odlo tee and hoodie I was wearing (and of course my cool Say Yes More Buff, thanks Dave for your encouragement). On the rest of me I was wearing my old Adidas Climacool trousers, some Bridgedale hiking socks and sock liners (always prefer two layers), and those Merrell Chameleon Shift hiking boots I fell in love with earlier on in the year (and rightly so – no blisters!). I had my TNF Thermoball jacket, beanie hat, gloves, waterproof jacket and trousers, and an extra Buff in my bag just in case, but didn’t need to make use of any of that stuff – shame I had to carry it all really but very necessary. Other than that my 20l Osprey pack contained a little first aid kit, survival bag, compass, maps, spare socks, sunglasses, towel, wipes, charger and cable, my bladder with 2l water, and lots and lots of food. I always over pack food and this trip was no exception, but I struggle to eat enough when exercising so making sure I have a wide variety of flavours and textures makes sure I will have something that I fancy and will want to eat, rather than finding any excuse not to bother eating. It’s silly really, at home I can’t stop eating; but out and about it’s a bit of a chore. Having a B&B overnight in the middle meant my pack wasn’t as heavy as it could have been, and I knew I had plenty of water to not need to worry about refilling or running out.
Disused railway means fast walking, a chance to make up some time.
The highest point of the Lyke Wake Walk called for a “Trig Point Selfie”!
After lunch we almost immediately had the biggest climb of the hike, which seemed to go on for a very long time, taking us up to 454m and the highest point on our walk and some more unbelievable views. From there it was a very easy but long path down to a disused railway, which we followed for 3.5 miles before taking the direct path to Rosedale Head. This bypassed the Lion Inn which is the traditional half way point for those doing this hike in one day (although it is a deviation from the straight line route and makes it longer than 40 miles in total) – from here we only had a couple of miles to go to our finishing point so we decided to save the pub food stop until we were done. Walking along the road for the last mile we could see my grey car ahead, finishing at 6pm after eight hours of walking including rest stops and in excellent spirits. Not bad, not bad at all.
Plenty of moorland views and the associated wildlife.
It was wet and muddy in places but day two soon blew this day one scene out of the water!
The light was fading a bit by 6pm, but that just meant we had some great skies to look at.
“Fat Betty”. End of day one.
I drove us all back to Osmotherley to pick up Jenni’s car but we soon decided we would stop there and find a pub for food before going back to the B&B. We ate in one of three or four pubs on the main junction in the village, an excellent meal made all the more satisfying thanks to the effort we’d put into our day. I didn’t quite fall asleep in my seabream but I was close – I was very tired and definitely ready for my bed, I was definitely glad we weren’t having to continue on through the night.
The just-after-mid-point stone marking the start of some difficult moorland walking.
Day two began a little earlier than day one, as we had two ours of driving to do before we could get on with the hiking. The kind lady at the B&B agreed to breakfast at 7am, an hour earlier than she would normally serve it, so we could get on and get out. After driving to the end point and dropping Jenni’s car off there I drove us all back to the little carpark at Rosedale Head. We were hiking by 10am once again, and had the same aim as the previous day – finishing hiking before nightfall.
Checking the guide book. A very handy resource. Photo by Allysse.
Navigation stones and peat bog.
Jenny and one of the reed beds.
Picking my route. Photo by Allysse.
We knew from the book that the first few miles today were going to be particularly hard going, chuckling at the line “when dry you tend to bounce across, when wet you sink into it”, but soon realising the book wasn’t joking. The path (and I use the term “path” very loosely here), was marked by white tipped stones that you could just about make out in the distance. I was very glad it was a clear morning, it meant we could spot those stones and didn’t have to walk on a bearing which is difficult and slow. It was difficult enough already. I’ve no idea how people do this in the dark.
A pointless bridge. It doesn’t even look that wet in the photo. I can assure you it was.
Progress was not quick, we strode across heather and through boggy patches in the peat, but at least we were getting somewhere. Then we came across the reed beds. My favourite. The reeds and moss were everywhere, and while we started off taking wide detours to get around it on the heather, or jumping over the narrower patches, we realised soon enough we were faced with deep flooded bog as far to the left and right as we could see. Oh. It took some persuading but eventually I gave in and joined Allysse and Jenni by taking my boots and socks off, rolling my trousers up, and wading through the mud, water and slime in my bare feet. It was cold but definitely the right choice as I sank to my knees often; thankfully it was soft underfoot and we made much better progress not worrying about our boots – it was much easier to dry our feet than our boots knowing there would be 15 miles still to go after this section.
No boots. Photo by Allysse.
Even in the boggy sections we occasionally found a “path”.
The boggy conditions continued on and off for the rest of the day which I found very tiring and difficult; we’d have one mile of great easy to follow path followed by another of soft and slippery boggy peat. But even when the path was very difficult to follow and I was getting a bit fed up of slipping and sliding more than I was stepping confidently, the scenery was still spectacular and the company of Jenni and Allysse helped me carry on with a smile. There was no moment when I thought we wouldn’t do it, although I often felt frustrated that we were going very slowly and had no opportunity to make up any time as there were no fast sections!
My Lyke Wake Walk guide book mentioned a challenging geographical feature between check points four and five, commenting “the challenge in this section is the steep ravine, which the unsuspecting walkers suddenly find themselves at the top of”. Well once again the writer wasn’t wrong. Despite having read the book, and studied the OS map with all its orange contour lines, we did suddenly find ourselves at the top of said ravine, with a very steep descent and ascent between us and the next part of the walk. Straight down, quite literally, using hands to steady ourselves, before crossing the brook on stepping stones (very carefully!), and then climbing back up the other side. Wow, hard work!! Oh and for the record, that happened again about four miles before the end of the walk too, which is just mean if you ask me!!
Even from here it doesn’t look like a ravine. The green and orange moorland looks like a nice rolling landscape. Oh no, it goes straight down to a river!
Climbing back up the ravine. Photo by Allysse.
Can you see it? This is where the finish point came in to view! At least seven miles to go.
We could actually see the finish point, a radio mast on the east coast close to Ravenscar, from about seven miles before the end. That’s harsh! Thankfully being able to see it didn’t slow us down, but rather we used it as motivation. It disappeared again across the next boggy section as we followed Little Eller Beck alongside the perimeter fence of Fylingdales (which involved an accidental sit down on my part which was more than a little soggy), but once we’d crossed two main roads and climbed our last big ascent of the hike it came back into view and got noticeably closer with each step over the last two miles.
One of the cairns on the route. Original navigation.
This hut was mentioned in the guide book. It’s going to completely sink soon.
It was at that point we opened the jelly babies (I’m surprised they stayed unopened until that point) and oh how we marched those last two miles, completing them in just half an hour, which isn’t bad considering the distance and terrain we’d covered before that. It was a good job we like to look around and take photos as otherwise we wouldn’t have looked back and noticed the pinkest of sunsets I’ve ever seen – always remember some of the best views will be behind you! We were stopped in our tracks and stood for a few minutes while the sky shone in our faces. So so so pink.
Ravine number two.
The pinkest of sunsets.
By the time we got to the finish, having enjoyed some French hiking songs from Allysse and taken a quick trig point selfie, it was most definitely twilight. The second 20 miles had taken us eight-and-a-half hours, again including rest stops, which wasn’t bad going considering we had waded through bog and had miles of very undefined path to follow early on in the day. 16.5 hours of hiking (with a sleep and some food in the middle) and we had completed our challenge – a linear crossing across the North Yorkshire Moors from Osmotherley to Ravenscar. Wow. Go us! Well done ladies!!
Slightly grainy finish selfie. Hooray!
I made a (very amateur) video of the hike, all shot on my iPhone. I’m getting the hang of this YouTube thing slowly, and hope you don’t mind the crude handheld style I have at the moment. Now I just need to develop a steadier hand and remember to actually film at the beginning of things rather than half way through!
All in all, over the 40 miles we climbed 1,525 metres (5,000 feet), higher than Ben Nevis, and descended again. We also waded through bog and marsh, navigated down and up two ravines, were laughed at by hundreds of grouse and saw a huge range of wildlife, sang, chatted, ate, drank, sat, slipped, and laughed. We did the hike, including necessary rest stops in 16.5 hours, and slept in a lovely B&B in the middle. We drove over four hours so we could do this self supported.
Walking with Jenni. Photo by Allysse.
I genuinely don’t like to show off and hope you don’t think I am, but two people I like to listen to both said I should do a bit of blowing my own trumpet here. Sitting here at my kitchen table typing this blog post and reliving the challenge, I am feeling pretty good, albeit tired (yes, still, nearly two weeks later). I am definitely no athlete. Actually, I am not very fit at all. I’m just a normal and busy full-time-jobbed hobby-blogging gal who is very good at finding excuses not to exercise. But I did it. My chubby belly and wobbly thighs, my dodgy knees and allergy prone skin, my anxious mind and lethargic nature. I did this. I walked 40 miles across the North Yorkshire Moors under my own steam. And thanks to the fab company of Jenni and Allysse I had an amazing time doing it. What an absolutely awesome way to spend a weekend!
There is just one question now. What next?! And don’t say “wash your boots”!!