Burials, Rituals And Vittles – Welcome To The Lyke Wake Walk
Sharon Cain, Lifestyle Correspondent
The historic Lyke Wake Walk evokes an era of bronze-age rituals when coffin carriers bore corpses across tough terrain with not a footpath, tavern or café in sight.
Stretching 40 miles from Osmotherley to Ravenscar across the highest and widest part of the North York Moors National Park, three of us and an excited golden retriever set off from Scarth Wood Moor near Osmotherley on a bright and breezy day.
The walk’s name derives from the now obsolete word ‘lyke’ for corpse and ‘wake’ which means watch, symbolising the coffin bearers who watched over the corpses they recovered on the moors and took them to their final resting place.
Today’s Lyke Wake walkers have it comparatively easy compared to bygone years when all the coffin bearers had for company in the swirling mists and biting cold were reported to be the haunting sound of eerie ghosts’ plaintive songs.
Since North Yorkshire farmer and local historian, Bill Cowley, put the walk on the map in 1955 and completed it in under 24 hours, thousands of people have trod the trail which became known as one of the country's first 'challenge' walks and has raised funds for wide-ranging charities over the years.
Our mission - considerably less arduous and undertaken in more temperate autumnal climes - was to reach the remote Lion Inn at Blakey before dusk and complete our journey the next day.
Setting off at 9am at a steady pace while savouring the landscape and heritage of the Cleveland Way including old quarries, it was soon time for elevenses. Our scenic stop was the Lord Stones Cafe built into the moor at the foot of Carleton Bank and enhanced by great views of Teeside and the East Coast.
A glider’s paradise, we enjoying watching them soar seamlessly above the magnificent moors. Highlights also included the stunning sunset as we wound our weary way along a dismantled railway line to The Lion Inn at Blakey.
Also boasting a wealth of history, the popular inn is renowned for its roaring fires and the warm welcome it extends to locals, walkers, bikers, children and canines. We set off around 8.30am the next morning fuelled with hearty grub and a good night’s rest in the convivial surroundings.
This second leg from Blakey to Ravenscar was considerably flat but far more exerting, predominantly comprising bog after bog which seemed to stretch forever.
The landscape on the last lap was infinitely more interesting and took in an example of a Roman Road, a descent to the North York Moors Railway where we witnessed a steam train whistling along the track - and old precast concrete railway sleepers laid side by side to form a track.
Then followed what seemed like an interminable tough uphill climb in the pitch dark (thank goodness we had headlamps with us) which included crossing a gorge, passing the radio mast, navigating a main road - and clambering up a myriad of steep steps.
We were never more pleased to see our friend John’s wife, Linda, awaiting us weary travellers and a pooped pooch who still managed a welcoming wag.
Exhausted but exhilarated, we celebrated completing our challenge at the Byherstones Inn – where even the dog was rewarded with his own portion of chips to satiate his carb cravings!
The New Lyke Wake Club http://lykewake.org/
Lord Stones Cafe http://www.northyorkmoors-stay.co.uk/tourist/Lord-Stones-Cafe.html 01642 778227
The Lion Inn at Blakey http://www.lionblakey.co.uk/ has dog friendly rooms. Booking in advance is recommended. 01751 417320
Wear proper walking clothes, boots and wet weather gear
Take a guide or a map and compass. The first section follows the Cleveland way and is well marked but the second section after the Lion Inn is not well marked and it is very easy to get off course (with nobody around to ask the way).
Pack a headlamp – it may take longer than you think!
Take plenty of water and hot drinks in a flask if the weather is cold
Take sandwiches and protein bars
Burials, Rituals And Vittles – Welcome To The Lyke Wake Walk, 26th March 2018, 11:09 AM