Monday, 19 June 2017

Lyke Wake Walk - The Third

In the beginning, the universe was created...

...this has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.  Then, some five billion years ago in the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the galaxy, an accretion cloud around a small unregarded yellow sun coughed up a lump of rock that went on to form into an utterly insignificant little blue-green planet whose tectonic motions led to the formation of large mountainous regions. One such region eventually over a few millennia drifted north where rolling ice sheets and glaciers ground down the peaks and carved deep valleys, leaving a desolate upland moor some 42 miles end to end, that the planets ape descendant life forms still think walking over in under twenty four hours is a pretty neat idea.

It was on the 16th of June, around two thousand years since one bloke got himself strung up for saying how great it would be to be nice to people occasionally, and exactly a year and one day since they had last done the same thing, that two of the planets ape descended carbon based bipedal life forms, admittedly probably not quite as far down the evolutionary tree as would be ideal, joined a small group of other such like minded, but considerably younger or physically better crafted specimens, on the outskirts of a distant urban backwater, to head for the inhospitable terrain of the planets island uplands, to once again prove to themselves that walking the breadth of the so called 'North Yorkshire Moors', isnt as neat an idea as previously thought.

This is their story.

The two above mentioned thick browed members of the species Homo sapiens sapiens are generally known, for administrative purposes at the request of the Glasgow Pay Office, as Bob Hooks [late of the 5th Rifles; 7th Royal Horse Artillery; and  6/8th Queens Ganja Rifles], and on Her Majesties Service for the benefit of the Military Correction Center Colchester, as Martin Barfield [8th Btn Light Infantry; Kings Own Yorkshire Yeomanry (light Infantry); 256 sqn RAF Quick Reaction NAAFI (reserve); and the 27th Foot in Mouth (east Doncaster branch) (ret.)], and we find them at 23:00 on a friday night slowly manouvering into a holding pattern close to the Kendray Hospital, Barnsley. With an expected 45min to wait, all eyes, a total of eight, are on the traffic lights at the road junction above. This would be their third crossing of the Lyke Wake Walk, the second over the East to West route, and their first supported.

Into this scene arrives a small motor vehicle, whose passenger side door swings open. After some moments, Bob steps out to investigate, and we get to meet the first of our fellow victims, Chris.  We divulge our kit out onto the street, and await the arrival of a minibus. During the intervening moments, we start getting to know each other and our motives.

At about 23:45, although I dont believe we checked, the minibus arrives, predictably some way up the road on the other side. We drag our kit over and meet Brian, the brains behind the fiendish torture plan, who ensures we are ticked off his list for the Prudential's loss adjusters. We embark on the vehicle, and find the first challenge of the walk is to actually get on the bus, which despite not yet having many people on, is already crammed full of supplies, aisles blocked with boxes, end on tressle tables, and the welcome nostalgic sight of a Burco boiler. We squeeze ourselves into whatever nooks we can find.

From Barnsley we now traveled to Osmotherly, where whilst awaiting the last few self loading freight to arrive, several of us partook of a parlour game known as 'find somewhere to have a pee'. I believe I won this round by going in the graveyard behind the chippy, several others finding themselves receiving a rather cold and odd reception in a local hostilery. With the last of the pickups arrived, including Gerry, one of the well standing members of the Lyke Wake Club, we again crammed ourselves back on the bus, for the journey to Ravenscar, the time being passed in amiable chat, interspersed with fruitless attempts to work out where we were.

Arrival at Ravenscar was close to first light. Dawn was slowly creeping over the cold of the North Sea, while a bright half moon added to the illumination of the landscape. Packs were hauled onto backs, headtorches on, and last minute decisions over sweatshirts and gaiters were made. Boots were tightened, and a final brief given regarding the distance, timings etc of the first stage. We were all eager for the off, and with the weather shaping up to be fine, the ground underfoot good, we launched into the first leg of the Lyke Wake Walk.

Sunrise over Ravenscar

Now, I should probably mention at this stage a brief overview of the group. Our group this time consisted of around seventeen people, of which a quarter were guides, a quarter forming a youth contingent who looked like they had their meals delivered to them in the gym, and much of the remainder formed from older but time served marathon and fell runners. Leaving myself and Bob as the ancient tub of lard posse. A predominantly male group, only two young ladies, who ultimately would arrive at the end looking as fresh as if they had had a days shopping expedition.

Very soon, myself and Bob began to appreciate that we are not built for speed, as the group took on the first leg with a murderous pace! We just aimed to try and keep from being the tail end charlies. Myself and Bob are much more your slow moving pack horse types. But, with stout boots, little weight and a pair of trekking poles each, we pounded our way down towards the A171 and Jugger Howe. At that time in the morning, a little after 03:00, the road was quiet. Predictably, there was a bit of stringing out to the group, as those of us not quite a fleet of foot slowed a little. But the ravine of Jugger Howe Beck predictably brought the lead group back within range of the rear party. Although I didnt appreciate it at the time, as I write this I am now suffering the bites of the damn midges.

Out of the dip and up onto Fylingdales Moor, and the steady climb to Lilla Cross. With the oddly attractive sight of the RAF's PAVE-PAWS adaptive UHF phased array RADAR in view, lit by the early morning light as the sun began to rise behind us, Bob stopped for a pee, and became an interesting foreground object in a sunrise photo. The usually rather moist passage over Eller Beck was not as damp as previously, and the group split several times as each guide presented their own preferred route to Eller Beck bridge, and the first checkpoint.

Golden Reflections

I decided that my feet were fine at this point and so didnt bother changing socks, but took the time to recover from the blistering pace. A mug of tea, cup of scalding hot tomato soup and a buttered roll for breakfast. With the weather now very clearly set fair, a mad scramble reorganisation of the pack to ditch any unnecessary weight was in order. But here, the situation was about to take a dire, and ultimately disappointing turn for Bob.

Some Moorland... Somewhere

Now, both myself and Bob are not as young as we were, and suffer from a number of ailments that we generally prescribe to our home towns gene pool being more akin to a slipper baths. These generally take the form of ruined knees, which is the main cause of us being rather sedate travelers on foot. But Bob also has a common but little known heart condition. Ordinarily of course, we walk as a pair, tailoring our route and pace to suite, and both of use aware of how to deal with any issues. However this time, the sudden stop from quite intense exercise, and a rapid intake of sugars, triggered an attack, which needed somewhat more intervention than hoped. I was swigging down hot soup when Bob called me over, and the look on his face was all I needed to know what the situation was.

Getting Warmer

At this point, it was back to being just me and Bob - if he asked me to bin it, it was binned. It became clear that Bob wouldnt be sorted before the step off on the second leg, but would hopefully rejoin at the 2nd checkpoint. It was decided that Bob would sit out the next stage, but I would press on. The group set off again, forging on down to cross the North York Moors Railway, and on to the long march over Simon Howe and down through Wheeldale Beck. It was here that last year we ran into an irate resident in the dark. Luckily he didnt seem to be around this time, but on crossing the beck a group of walkers who were on the verge of being reported overdue were spotted, slightly off course and probably feeling somewhat lost. One of our guides detached to go and assist them and get them back on route, as we all slogged up to the roman road and the bloody awful rocky path of Wheeldale Moor.

This was one of the longest sections, and rough going, simply a slog. After passing the Blue Man'i'the 'moss, the second checkpoint came into distant view. But to reach it, first one of the boggy sections had to be crossed. I was thankful for the good weather, as it was really not too bad. I had however, as expected, dropped to near the end of the spread of walkers. And, on stopping to take a leak, lost considerable ground, to come in last. At the checkpoint, more tea, a change of socks, and more kit lightening. Plus beans and sausages. I also got to catch up with Bob.

Food, Glorious Food!
Bob had thankfully managed to get his condition under control, and had done so in just a handful of minutes, unfortunately, with no comms (only one working radio between us and I had that) he couldnt tell me, otherwise I would have drifted along until he caught up. So instead he rejoined us at this point. In all fairness to Bob, having missed a section and now not eligible to count the walk as successful, he would have been well within his rights to sack it off and come back another day, but instead he decided to rejoin and fight it out with us.

The next section was relatively short, but we knew from previous experience what to expect - the bog! Once again the lack of poor weather for a while was marvelous, with many areas quite dry and springy, or at the very least not saturated. Not that it mattered, as most of us managed to find a section to go at least knee deep into! One poor chap, walking in shorts, went near waist deep with both legs! But with the bog conquered, we hit the mind and foot numbing tedium of the metaled road, winding its slow but uphill course to Fat Betty and the car parking where the minibus was waiting for the third checkpoint.

The Mob, plus some kids from Scarborough College

3rd checkpoint. More tea! Buffet lunch and chocolate. Contemplated changing to trainers, knowing that the next section involved the long drag up the railway inclines, but decided against it, as previous experience of the crossing over from Flat Howe suggested likely wet feet! And we were right. But once on the railway, the full force of the now blazing sun beat down on the bedraggled mob. The youngsters and the marathon men forged ahead, soon out of sight. For a good while, the weary trio of myself, Bob and Chris, now taking on a startling resemblance to a freshly cooked lobster thermidor, plodded slowly along, passed by and passing by a family on bikes several times as they stopped for picnics. It was somewhere along here that I started with my nose running from a single nostril! Bloworth Crossing came and went, and we eased over Round Hill summit, which I pointed out to Bob, as we still need to 'bag' that one on the radios! Passing over here we recollected last year where we stopped at the bench just before the descent to Clay Bank, and where we had a 'shout out' on a local radio station. Our only thought now as we bumped painfully down the stone steps was to not be the last of the group to complete the section!

Onwards, ever onwards!

Starting to take its toll. Chris the Lobster far left

4th checkpoint. Lots of fluids, more tea. Change into trainers now and fresh socks. Hot stew. One thing we noted was that it was all simple fare, but exactly what we needed. It was now mid afternoon and swelteringly hot. A cooling breeze across us much of the time, but there were calm moments where we just baked. At this point, there were two route options. The more traditional route up and over the summits, which would involve a starting climb up stone steps - the exact steps which almost took me out of the game last year. Or, the more refined low level path, which passed through woodlands. The vote was called, and returned unanimous - the woods! The now somewhat less rowdy mob moved off. The trees brought much admired shade, but where the canopy thinned the sun burst through like a furnace. But, this was a short and relatively level section. Quite easy going in many ways. However, as nice as trainers are for many things, they are not good for small sharp pebbles, of which this path is liberally scattered. Although myself and Bob were very much the tail end of the group now, and beginning the first skirmishes of the battle for the end, we managed to keep up a reasonable pace for us. Gerry dropped back as 'sweep' to ensure we didnt drop off the trail, and we passed the time in chat. An apparent incident ahead had Gerry nip off to give assistance, but it turned out to be an altercation between parties of dog walkers, not an accident as feared. On reaching Lord Stones Cafe, we both regretted not having any cash - an icecream or chilled can of pop would have been very welcome at that stage!

Nearing Lordstones Cafe

A view towards civilization (well, Gisborough)

Me no likey

The 5th and final checkpoint was a little beyond where expected. More tea, topped up water, the last of the Lucozade retrieved from our reserve pack and distributed. Between us, me and Bob would consume some six liters of 'zade, plus around three liters of water, and probably a liter of tea. Yet I would still finish with my throat like a Bedouin flip-flop. My left nostril now rubbed sore from attempts to deal with it running, each time just rubbing the accumulated grit and grime over my face. The left side of my neck was incinerated. My left arm griddled. One final push remained. But, it was a long one - six miles, and started with a stone stepped climb with little breeze, to the summit of Gold Hill. For a while, we managed to keep pace, but by now we were flagging. But at least our feet were good. I had just the beginnings of a small blister on my right heel, almost certainly due to the fewer than normal sock changes i'd decided on. Bobs feet were a bit more battered. As we dropped down through the woods to the houses at Huthwaite Green, Gerry showed us a way to avoid the wide woodland steps, which could well cause the end of a walk for an unwary traveler of those parts. Knowing that we had the ford of Scugdale beck ahead of us, followed by the final appalling climb, I made myself a promise to freshen up in the beck, which I surely did, splashing the fantastic cool waters over my face and neck. By now, there were no other walkers from our party in sight. We pressed on up the meadow and into the woods, at least now safe from the sun. Only one horrible section remained - the woodland steps up to Coalmire. Not exactly a great altitude change, these long drawn out timbered steps come at just the wrong place on the end of such a long walk.   By now, my body had reached its metabolic limit. There were no energy reserves left. I forced dextrose tablets down my gullet and tackled each small group of four or five steps at a time, before a pause for breath.  But then we were clear of them, and out onto the road to the car park.

Bob attempting to be manly

The final little section, along the road to the second car park, and the marker stone. We regrouped and completed this as a trio. As we came level with the rest of the group a cheer went up. I acknowledge this with a wave of a pole, and attempted a slow dash up to the stone. We had made it. Despite our troubles, fitness level, and age. And we had our official time - 16h 19m. After all that, we were still within half an hour completing as the rest of the group. Admittedly though, because of us, they did get longer rest periods! A few photos, which certainly show the state we were in, and we slipped down to the minibus, where we accepted a round of handshakes and congratulations, and a slightly warm but very welcome glass of bubbly!

Permission to Die, Sir?

The End. Tea and Medals

Badges and condolence cards were handed out. Bob being somewhat surprised to receive them, due his missing a leg. Packs off and thrown into the bus, the ordeal complete. We clambered awkwardly back in, and eased into nooks and crannies among sweaty, filthy boots and stinking bodies. A short drive down into Osmotherly to drop off Gerry and some others who had joined there, and then onwards for the run back down to Barnsley. During the early part of the return drive, I took some time to extract everything from Bobs big reserve pack, sort out whos kit was whos, and redistribute into the appropriate packs. I then started the campaign to remove my socks for a fresh pair, deciding to spend the majority of the journey barefoot! Bob was sat behind me, seemingly marshaling the Grenadier Guards Massed Bands tuning up, though in reality a loose Burco boiler lid. A gentle odour of stale fish beginning to permeate the bus. I cant vouch for Bob or anyone else, but with the chat subdued compared to the journey the day before, I tried to get a little kip.

I cant think let alone take a good photo

Dead Men (finished) Walking

Back in Barnsley, we debussed, hauled our packs out the back of the bus, and were relieved to find Bobs car not only still parked in the same place, but still complete. We said our farewells to the other walkers, and to Brian. We crossed to the car with Chris, whos ride was waiting parked behind us. I spied a four pack of large Stellas on the passenger seat! Im sure he enjoyed those! Myself and Bob eased into the car, and on the route back to Doncaster found that the previously noted scent of gamey haddock was emanating from us!

And so, with the evening finally beginning to turn cool, our intrepid hikers arrived back at Bobs, in time to be roundly laughed at for the state we were in. Plans were decided for the evenings relaxation, mostly involving baths and beer. Decisions made on how to gain Bobs third qualified crossing in the near future. I myself have my three valid crossings, and await now only the Inquisition. At some time in the next few weeks, others partaking of the Lyke Wake Walk, may see an odd sight - a small blue car with a large radio mast attached, at various places where the path crosses roads. This will be me, and I may or may not be frying bacon at any stage. When this vision is seen, then eager walkers may happen upon the apparition of a lone heap of rags, somewhat resembling an early human of the Neanderthal strain, tramping the route. This will be Bob. We will be in constant radio contact as he completes his third and qualified crossing.

Next march, we will face the Inquisition. We will attain Master of Misery. And we will truly appreciate the name!

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Lions Summer Walk - GB0LSW

A bare week after we completed the 2nd, reverse, crossing of the Lyke Wake, myself and Bob found ourselves again poised on a start line. This time, we had support - water, bananas, high viz vests and a number each! We were outside the new 'Cast' theatre in Doncaster town center, about to start on the Lions Summer Walk, a 12 mile route to end at TS Gambia, the Sea Cadets center in the town of Thorne.

For this, we had arranged our second 'mobile' amateur radio special event license, with the callsign GB0LSW. Bob would operate on 145MHz FM, using a handheld, whilst I, mentalist that I am, would run HF with the PRC-320 on my back!

Well, armed with some water and bananas, we finally got set off, one what should have been a really quite easy walk for us. That said, I was lugging a 10kg field radio!

The first problem presented itself within about 3 minutes of starting - the route, instead of going around past the old Odeon (Gaumont) cinema site and Christ Church onto Thorne Road, as i'd expected, went instead through Priory Walk which is a covered walkway! All well and good when your no taller than your hat, but a bit awkward when theres a 2.4m whip antenna sticking up above your head! The solution was to have Bob hold the antenna down as we went under what used to be the Park Lane nightclub.

From there we passed Christ Church onto Thorne Road towards Doncaster Royal Infirmary. Soon the folly of a HF mobile station became aparent. I really had not realised that there were so many trees along the route, and low branched trees at that! We had to alter our course slightly to prevent snagging the antenna.

Anyway, we started calling on the radios. As a result, we slackened our pace and were soon overtaken by almost everyone else!

The first support stop was at the Wheatley Hotel. From there, we headed around Sandal Park and over into Clay Lane, before heading into Edenthorpe. At this stage, Bob was managing a few contacts on 2m, whilst I was getting precisely nowhere on HF!

But the going was easy, especially compared with our jaunt on the North York Moors the week before! We passed through Edenthorpe, by our old school, and up to the roundabout and the A18 to Dunsville. Somewhere along here, Bob made contact with the special event station at the Doncaster Aircraft museum. Despite then arranging a sked for me on 18MHz, we were barely able to make the contact.

We passed into Dunsville, an interesting section where Bob had the annoyance of a pirate station to contend with!This idiot kept trying to say he was nearby and was coming to give Bob a kicking! I'd have loved to have seen it happen! But his signal strength made it clear he was not anywhere close and getting further away!

The second rest stop loomed, this was at Hatfields club, and we were being marshaled by uniformed Sea Cadets and Instructors. By this time we were in need to sanitary facilities, so we took the opportunity to drop the radios and have a rest. Ice cold fruit cordial was available which was very refreshing. At this point I was offered the spare battery that I had had Julie and Sam take on ahead, but decided to forgo it, instead depositing it in Bobs pack whilst he was in the lav,

From here there were just a few miles to go. As we made our way towards the marina area, Bob found an England flag on the ground that had fallen off of someones war. It was soon flying from the tip of my antenna!

The route then took us over the motorway via  a service bridge, before back down to join the fast and unpaved road to Thorne. This section was rather tedious, simply because it was long and straight. It was also not the nicest of roads to walk along, and little to see once your past the prison!. We tried a few band changes, and Bob had a go operating the HF for a while, but with still no luck, and an unexpected RF burn for Bob!

But then, we were on the outskirts of Thorne. And soon, we were at the landing on the canal, with just a road crossing to go to the end! There we were met by the mayor, and awarded our medals!

We were not quite the last to finish, but not far off. Having dismantled the antennas, and stowed the kit, we enjoyed a much deserved pint or two!

We always seem to end up in a mess!
The radio aspect was disappointing though. One idea for next year, is to see if we can set up the station at the end point (presumably the TS Gambia again?) and then myself and Bob will complete the walk in advance of everyone else starting it, so we can then run the station during the actual walk from more efficient equipment and antennas.

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Lyke Wake Walk 2016 - 2nd Crossing - Report

I know I have left this too long, but finally, heres the report on our 2nd crossing of the Lyke Wake Walk, on the night of the 18-19th June.

There were two key aspects to this crossing - a dawn start, and the reverse route!

The plan was simple, and indeed cunning. We would arrive at the 'end', Ravenscar, late evening on the 18th, get some sleep, and then set off around midnight, complete the easy section from Ravenscar to the A177 in time for dawn to break and light the way through the awkward section past Fylingdales. A brief SOTA activation of each of the two summits as we passed and then a steady drop down into Osmotherley in time for tea and medals.


It never 'quite' goes that way when me and Bob go walking!

The day started well, we got into Osmotherly and parked Bobs motor up. I was driving the first run since Bob doesnt like the way my bad leg has a tendency to go hard on the gas. From there we made our way to Whitby, and raided the Co-op for food, managing to cram sandwiches and whole quiche down (each!), plus staggeringly big bars of chocolate. To avoid the temptation to visit a pub, and to also avoid having to pay for parking, we carried on to Ravenscar, and got parked close to the normal finish line.

At the start - Vegetable rights and peace!

As we arrived, we noticed a minibus parked up. Thinking this might be for one of the known regular supported walks, we wandered over for a chat. It turned out it was for a crossing by one of the schools in Scarborough. As we chatted, their first finishers came in, a teenage girl and boy, hand in hand!  We congratulated them on a fine effort.

As we checked kit and got ready to rest up, more support teams began to arrive, plus more early finishers. And thats when we made our first, and (quite nearly) fatal mistake!

... we decided to crack on!

The temptation to A) congratulate and B) encourage / wind up, the incoming walkers as we passed them, was too much! We treated our feet, although with our nice new boots which now fit properly, little was needed in this, had a pee, and hauled our, predictably, shockingly heavy Bergens on.

So, in daylight, we set off to walk the reverse route. Encouraging the tired and worn walkers coming the other way as we went with calls of 'not far now', 'nearly done, keep going', and telling them that we'd just finished and were going back for the next group we were guiding across!

It was remarkable how some of the walkers really did look about to die! But we did also notice, just how muddy they were!

It turned out that the recent rain had not yet drained. Many parts of the walk, even at this early stage, were muddy and slippy.

Bob was asking every group we passed if they were someone (I forget who). I think we did eventually meet that person. We also met one of the club officials!
 Bouyed by this, we very quickly reached the A177. We failed to become squeshed walkers as we crossed, and so did our usual feet check and carried on. But it was now becoming much slippier, and we were rather surprised at just how muddy it was, considering the day itself was lovely.

As dusk fell and the light started to fade, we could see RAF Fylingdales in the distance. Around about this time we decided, it was time for some music!

One of our handheld transceivers happened to have an FM broadcast receiver built in, so we found a station playing decent music and carried on, although in true fashion there was a short interlude whilst Bob evacuated himself.

Bob having a 'philosophical' moment

The radio would become our companion on this walk. It was actually really nice to have some music, as we walked through the night. Indeed, the morale boost it provided helped offset the fact that, although the weather was perfect, the ground conditions meant that it was particularly tough going.

Dusk falls on the BMEWS

Somewhere short of Flylingdales, the paths became indistinct, and very muddy. We began to slide and stumble. Despite headtorches, we found finding the correct path became tricky. Bob took a bad slip and went both legs into a bog, unfortunately, the bit between his legs was solid ground! Quite a painful experience that would later prove to have been damaging.

We began to have to make quite embarrasing course corrections as the path became invisible, and finding ourselves on the wrong side of a nasty section of bog each time!

At some point around here, I managed to put my entire left leg up to the knee, into a post hole, and then fall forward onto my right knee. This simple incident would prove disasterous to our efforts and ultimately to our crossing times.

An yet, we were so far going well. We had plenty of energy, and were in great spirits. We'd conquered the first of the nasty ravines with little more discomfort than the damn midges. Eller beck was behind us, and we were safely over the A169 road and heading through the nature reserve to cross the North Yorks Moors Railway.

By now it was pitch black, and we were guided only by our GPS and torchlight. As we began the approach and decend to the 2nd ravine of Wheeldale beck, and the site of the roman road, things took a sinister and un-nerving turn! We began to hear dogs barking. Then vehicle movement up ahead. Now, such things occuring in the middle of the night, on the moors, in the presence of a pair of ex-infantrymen, instantly put us on guard. As Cat on Red Dwarf would say 'It doesnt smell right!'

And it wasnt. The vehicles, and their occupents, were out for one reason - they were hunting us! As we came to the beck and the stepping stones, we saw another lamp aproaching. We were confronted by an irate owner of one of the houses beside the beck. Intent on intimidation, and voicing his annoyance that people might dare to walk a public path on a national park during the night, our fear was that he would set his dogs on us.

I have absolutely no qualms of pointing out the exact location, and hence the house in question, for future walkers to be wary. I had intended on reporting his actions to the police. I can understand a landowner in such a remote location being wary, but it was quite clear that we were walkers.

We got clear of the roman road as fast as was possible, and away from this idiot. But we now had the worst of the boggy sections to cross, and boy was it wet! However, it was begining to become light, we were now able to dispense with the head torches. We stumbled and slipped, cursed, jumped and sank our way through, until eventually coming out onto the metalled road. We were now close to Fat Betty, our breakfast and selfie stop!

A quick adjustment of laces

At Fat Betty we stopped to eat, and cold chow mein is a fantastic taste! (im not being sarcastic there, it really was nice!). Changing socks and checking feet was done in relay, fighting the onset of cramp. A few piccies were taken, and we enjoyed a rest sat in the glow of the rising sun.
The creeping Insanity

Breakfast at Fat Betty's.
From here we made our way down (or up?) the road to the Lion Inn, luckily quite firmly closed at that time in the morning, and passed over the back to join the Rosedale railway path.Now, on our first crossing, this winding track seemed to go on forever. This time was no exception. We began now to tire a little. Soon, the long drawn out slog of it began to rival the climb up Whernside! By the time we turned off to join the Cleveland way towards Urra Moor, it was becoming seriously tedious and boring! My gawd its a long, long way when its all uphill!

Our spirits were still good though at this point. Bob had been texting the radio stations overnight, and shortly after we crossed Urra Moor, totally forgetting to carry out the SOTA activation as we crossed the summit before we realised, we found the bench at the start of the decent down to the B1257. Another sock change and a bit of scran here. But by this time, things were just starting to go awry! As a result of our falls earlier, we were both beginging to hurt, and lots of painkillers were not helping enough. My left knee was becoming serously painfull. But, one fantastic moment did occurr whilst stopped here - we got a mention on Radio Cleveland!

Checking feet after Urra Moor
We were still in good enough morale at this point to be annoyed by the idiots who let their dogs run off lead on the moor, despite the presence of the sheep. But as we descended, and more so as we began the climb up the steps towards Cringle Moor, our injuries began to take their toll. For Bob, painkillers were effective, and he was able to maintain his pace. For me, although the painkillers did their job, and my knee didnt hurt too much, it was rapidly stiffening. Each step became an effort.

Once up on the moor, walking wasnt too bad, but I could no longer maintain my usual pace. By the time we were negotiating our weary way through the rocks of  , we were both slow, but I was now finding it increasingly difficult to bend my knee. We were becoming very slow. Now, Cringle Moor and Drake Howe effectively form three ridges, and the colls between are deceptively steep. As we looked up to the summit, we realised that there was no way I would be able to ascend, without causing myself serious damage. We opted to take the lower level path slightly to the north, even though this meant the ups and downs of various ancient waste tips. Progress was laboriously slow.

We rejoined the Cleveland way path near Mouries pond, and limped into the Lord Stones cafe. Every movement for me now was a challenge, including sitting down on a bench, and then getting up again to go and buy something to eat. As we moved off, I had been reduced to the pace of an asthmatic tortoise. I told Bob to just crack on, that way at least one of us could maintain a good time, but Bob insisted on remaining together. This we did until the summit of the next hill. Here we stopped, took a look around, took a look at ourselves, and realised that somewhere in the last ten miles, we'd left our morale and enthusiasm behind! We looked pretty much how we felt, and we felt terrible. I finally convinced Bob to forge ahead, with the argument that I only had to follow the path from now on and that I might be slow but I wasnt actually dying, and he slowly started to pull away as we went down the hill. I crept my way painfully down, and soon was tackling the horrendous set of slippery steps in the woods. I stopped upon a mound just before the farm, as my GPS batteries had given up. I changed them, and finished off the last of the Jerky and the coke i'd got at the cafe.

On the drive back to Ravenscar, Bob told me of his adventures -

After leaving me, he started heading down the hill at a bit quicker pace. Finding he could actually move better at a jog than walking, he started to run! This he managed to maintain, after a fashion, until he hit the banking up to the woods after the river crossing, which sapped some of the energy reserved he still had. He'd also had to stop and check with a local which way to go, after his GPS decided to have a wobble.
Having made it up the slope and into the woods, he was once again able to make time. On arriving at the car park, hot, sweaty, stinking, he found he was in the midst of masses of families, all smiling and laughing kids. And one now very knackered and rapidly stiffening Bob! He then opened the car, removed his boots, and hobbled barefoot to the ice cream van. The happy families had to then endure the sight of a steaming, crumpled hobo ramming a '99' down his neck!

After a brief rest I carried on, soon I was over the road and the stream, the bridge of which was rather awkward to cross! But now, I just had to get into the woods, and a couple of miles later would be on the road down to the car park and the end! Once in the woods, I again began to enjoy the scenery, and even managed to increase my pace a little. I'd sent Bob a few updates by text (our radio batteries being long since dead!) with a rough ETA. At one point, I took a slight detour instead of following the expected path,a nd was worried that Bob might have retraced his steps to meet me. But, I had told him to get to the car and have a kip.

The final Marker Stone

As I came to the end of the woods, with the last length of Coalmire Lane ahead of me, I noticed a car parked by the gate. The Pen-Y-Ghent cafe sticker in the rear window indicated it was Bob (im hopeless at recognising cars). I fell against the wing, knocked on the window, and asked a half awake Bob "Whens the next bus due?"

We had made it.

After a brief rest, we headed back to Ravenscar to collect my car, only going the wrong way and into Middlesborough the once. We were shattered. And we stank. But we had completed the Lyke Wake Walk for the second time, and by the reverese route.

Our crossing times were appalling!  Although Bob managed a bit better than me, but even so, we made it within the available 24h. Recovery seemed to be much faster than the first time - I could actually walk the next day! But both of us, even as I write this report in early October, nearly four months later, retain the remnants of the injuries we picked up on that day!

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Did I mention our charity?

You know, I cant remember! Well, i'll mention it again!

Our charity for this years Lyke Wake Walk - Reverse Route challenge on the 18-19th June is Meningitis Now. Oh look, theres even a link to their webpage on the side of this blog! How lucky is that?

I tell you what else is lucky, theres a link to our sponsorship and donations page as well! So you see, you can read all about our three peaks walk, then just pop over the mouse pointer a few inches, and in a click or few, you can make a pledge to support us on our walk and the great work that Meningitis Now does in supporting families hit by this devastating illness.

And, look, see how nice I am to you? You dont even need to drag the mouse that far! Just click here -

and give us some of your money!

Go on, you know you want to! It all feels just soooo heavy in your wallet doesnt it? Go on, lighten the load on your hip pocket, and your conscience!

The Yorkshire Three Peaks....Again!

Due to a date calculation error, the planned walk of Trollers Gill with Sam couldnt happen, so I asked Bob if he wanted to try something else...

'Y3P', was his reply. So, on Monday, we yet again headed to Horton in Ribblesdale, a little later in the morning than normal, and after Bobs customary visit to the public conveniences, parked up behind the pub, and started to get kitted up.

The weather was excellent. 'T-shirt tabbing' straight from the off, however, the forecast was for showers later in the afternoon. After a protein shake and banana breakfast, I dropped a £2 coin into the honesty box for the parking, and we headed off around the church.

The walk to the foot of Pen-Y-Ghent was about as uneventful as it gets, other than having to keep moving aside to let the farmer on his quad bike past, as he did his rounds feeding the sheep.

Heading up, the fine weather had us working up a bit of a sweat. There seemed to be very few people about, and most of those were coming the other way!

It wasnt long before we were tackling the first scramble. In the fine conditions this proved no problem.

Once at the summit, we paused to play a little radio. Pen-y-ghent is a SOTA summit, and we needed just four radio contacts to make it an official activation. Well, these were hard to come by! We had to resort to the big telescopic antenna, but eventually Bob bagged the needed contacts.

As we set off again, we passed by the chaps you can see in the background in the picture below, at this point it was realised that Bob knew one of them, who lives not far from him!

Pen-y-ghent done, we began the descent down to the long tedious drag over to Ribble Head. In the nice sunny weather, and with our nice new comfy boots, this seemed no hardship, and we decided to make a small detour to visit Hull Pot.

This ancient hole in the ground is seriously scary! I cant imagine what neolithic people thought when they came across it.

From Hull Pot we backtracked to rejoin the path and headed toward the Ribblehead viaduct, just visible in the photo below, with the imposing bulk of mistress Whernside dominating the horizon.

At the road junction we avoided the sarnie waggon and decided to just have a snack, tighten the old laces and crack on up to Blea Moor Sidings, to get up the horrendous slog that is Whernside.
Crossing over to Ribblehead viaduct, you can see Ingleborough through the arches, a reminder of whats to come

Its over there!
As the weather had been good for some time, all the water courses were mere trickles

Even the paved slog up Whernside didnt seem as bad as last time. But then, last time the weather was abysmal. As we climbed Whernside this time, it became apparent  just how amazing the views from its summit are! The whole of the Dales, and the peaks of the Lakes, could be seen, as could the sparkling waters of Morcambe Bay and the Irish sea. A slightly less attractive sight was that of a lamb with its eye hanging out.

At the summit, we had a spot of lunch, and Bob changed socks whilst I tried for the SOTA contacts. This time though it seemed everyone was busy elsewhere. Desperate attempts were made to get a spot onto the online alert system, but the only one that worked, via a Facebook page, was sadly too little too late. Bob had a brief run in with a self appointed member of the frequency police, who berrated him for 'not proper procedure' whilst at the same time breaking his own license conditions by not giving his callsign. Despite all attempts, including Bob bagging a summit to summit contact with an activator on a hill in North Wales, we gave up without getting enough contacts to qualify. But, we'd been stopped for about half an hour, time was marching on, and despite the warm weather the slight breeze was making us cold as it dried off our sweat. Without changing my socks, we moved on and tackled the nasty rocky descent.

Yet we still felt good, it seemed all easy going. But dark skies were brewing to the North. The breeze was holding them off, but it was becoming obvious that we were on borrowed time with the weather.

It started to rain, slightly at first, then heavier, as we approached Ingleborough. It was quite heavy as we hit the wall.

NO photo ive yet seen does the wall justice! Like the one above, they all look a much  gentler gradient than is the case. By the time we were half way up, and reaching the scramble near the top, the heavens opened in a torrential downpour.

We had waterproof jackets on, but the effort of the climb meant we were as wet inside as out, but also hot, and with laboured breathing and misted glasses I completed the wall a little behind Bob, and to my dismay realised i'd forgotten that the wall doesnt go to the summit, but just to a slightly less steep section! As we headed back down the other side for the final four miles to Horton, the ground was just a mass of fast flowing rivlets. The only consolation was that at least it wasnt sideways blowing sleet like the last time!

By the time we reached Sulber Nick, probably one of the worst parts of the walk generally, everything was a sea of mud, every rock was slippy, and I was so wet that even my underpants were damp. I also had a very cold left nipple, which turned out to be an open pocket in my jacket that had filled with rain water!

Caked with mud, we left the rain behind as we descended, and having passed the two wooden signs that tell you how far to Horton it is but lie like a cheap NAAFI watch, finally had the roofs of the railway cottages in sight, and Pen-y-ghent in front of us on the horizon. Just a couple of miles to go.

By the time we descended towards the railway, with the beautiful but toxic waters of the Blue Lagoon off to our right, our own body heat had started to dry us out a bit. Bobs bunion was pissing him off a tad, and i'd developed a sore spot under the ball of my right foot, due I believe to choosing to not change to fresh socks. As we crossed the bridge in Horton to head up the main road towards the Pen-y-ghent cafe, it was clear just how much it had rained, as the previously gentle river was a raging torrent below us.

We reached the car, ending our walk just inside the challenge time, at 11h 30. Not our best time, but we had set out to have a steady bimble and not push hard. We both gently steamed as we packed our kit away and took off our boots in favour of trainers for the drive home. The sore spot on my foot was clearly from sweat, something changing socks would have prevented. But apart from that and aching legs, oh and a little extra sunburn, and being decidedly moist, we were none the worse for it.

On the drive home, Bob tried to kill me by feeding me a ridiculously hot spicy sausage, and we decided that, having done the Yorkshire Three Peaks many times now, we would reserve it for an annual test, and from now on look at walking some of those other summits we could see so clearly from the top of Whernside.