Sunday, 26 October 2014

Lyke Wake Walk September 2014

Well this is becoming a bit of a recurring theme isn't it?! For the third time this year, Claire, Dave and myself found ourselves drawn to this crossing of the North York Moors across land steeped in legend and history.

It would be hard to top the June 2014 crossing where we were treated to perfect conditions, accompanied by a beautiful sunset and sunrise, but this journey once again turned out to be a special one.

It was my second reverse crossing, the first time having been done in atrocious conditions back in January. This time, as we set off, once again in the dark, but with incredibly clear skies and reasonably dry conditions underfoot.

Doing the walk in reverse means that the first ten miles require more navigation than expected - what seems like a straightforward walk during the day from Fylingdales over to Ravenscar becomes a lot more challenging at night. Instead of being one simple track headed towards the mast, paths divert off to the left and right all over the place and you have to keep your wits about you. This time, Fylingdales was completely lit up and looked even more alien at night than it does during the day, but this helped simplify navigation beside Little Eller Beck and along the boundary fence of the RAF territory.

The rest of the night passed almost without incident. Dave couldn't resist the urge to lie down on the few pieces of tarmac crossed to gaze up at the firmament, It has to be said this was possibly the most incredible night sky I had ever seen, and just when I thought it couldn't get any better Claire and I got to see a giant shooting start dart across the skies.

Of course no LWW can be completely trouble-free. The minor incidents this time were getting slightly lost on the trek back up Wheeldale, and a short twenty minute game of hunt-the-GPS-in-the-heather, which Claire won, and for which I will be forever grateful! This happened just as the sun was rising - any earlier and we would never have found it.

With the sun rising in our backs as we hit the railway track, we had the beautiful sight of a mist-filled Farndale accompanying us for the next couple of miles. Rather annoyingly, by this stage I had developed a couple of blisters which slowed me down and make the last twenty miles of walking pretty uncomfortable.

As we headed over Bloworth Crossing up to the heights of Round Hill and Urra Moor we passed the first walkers of the day. Oddly enough we only saw Cleveland Way types, I had been expecting to meet at least one or two other groups of people tackling the LWW from West to East on this beautiful day.

A reverse crossing meant that we got to experience the views and scenery of the Cleveland Hills in the daylight. This means a slow rollercoaster ride over tops like Hasty Bank, with the walk through the Wainstones being a particular highlight. By now the blisters were causing me problems, and I had slowed down a fair bit, but the scenery was more than enough compensation for a bit of discomfort.

We had an additional voice of encouragement when the New Lyke Wake Walk Club general secretary Gerry Orchard gave us a quick call to see how we were getting on, during one of the rare occasions of having a strong phone signal!

The Cleveland Hills were bustling with activities, with plenty of people out enjoying the clear weather and the recently renovated Lord Stones site looks to be very busy which is good news for the National Park.

The last few miles of the walk seem to go on for ever on tired legs, but with a reverse crossing the final stretch crosses a variety of terrain as you come down through woodland after Live Moor, crossing farmland before returning to the wooded Coalmire plantation. The last steps as you exit the plantation have now reached legendary status in our little walking group and they don't fail to disappoint every time - an absolute killer!

All that remained was the last section of tarmac to greet the stone at the start/ end, then back to the car at Cod Beck. Minutes later we were enjoying the welcoming atmosphere in the Queen Catherine hotel at Osmotherley, toasting another fine North Yorkshire Moors experience.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

The Hole Of Horcum, North York Moors

I learned about the legend of the Hole of Horcum a while back on a television programme and after having read walk reports in various magazines it has been a place I have been keen on exploring for some time.

On a recent weekend trip to Staithes and Dalby Forest Claire and I headed along the A169, turning onto the steep and narrow lane that took us through the village of Lockton to Levisham for the start of this circular walk. We were not far from Lyke Wake Walk territory and from the top of the Hole we had a great view of the ground we cover on our favourite challenge walk, from Simon Howe to Flyingdales and beyond.

Starting off in the picturesque Levisham, our walk headed onto a path through woodland, skirting the top of a fairly steep valley. The path was quite overgrown in places, but easy enough to follow.

Although we had glimpses of the valley below, it would be some time before we had clearer views ahead and so this is a good build up as you anticipate the glory of this natural amphitheatre.

Coming down the side of the valley, we started the impressive walk that takes you right into the heart of the Hole of Horcum, and it is a very impressive place to be. Either the legend of Wade the Giant who scooped up a giant hole in the ground, or the forces of nature have dug this huge hollow ground that engulfs you as you walk through.

A short steep climb along a heather-clad path brings you out onto the side of the main road, and from here you have fine views over Lyke Wake Walk territory, and a look into the Hole of Horcum behind.

From here we followed the route of the Tabular Hills Walk as it forges its way through the North York Moors.

Although it feels bleak and barren as it can be here, the path is actually a journey through man-made history, with lots of signs telling you of iron age barrows, bronze age dykes, mounds, ditches, Dundale pond and other ancient monuments.I am always amazed at how man's efforts to conquer the landscape inevitably are reclaimed by nature.

From here it was a short walk back along a lane to the top of Levisham village and our waiting car.