The History Of Lyke Wake Walk

The Lyke Wake Walk is a 40-mile challenge walk across the highest and widest part of the North York Moors National Park in North Yorkshire, England. It’s associated club has a social structure, culture and rituals based on the walk.

The man behind the inception of the Lyke Wake Walk, was called Bill Cowley. Bill was a former Indian Civil Servant, North Yorkshire farmer, local historian, journalist and broadcaster.

On the 1st October 1955, Bill Cowley and twelve others set out to complete this challenge, and succeeded. They finished at the Raven Hall Hotel in Ravenscar within the allocated time frame. The group promptly founded the now famous ‘Lyke Wake Club’. The Lyke Wake Walk then became one of the country’s first ‘challenge’ walks.

The Start Far West
  • The Lyke Wake Walk
  • 40 Miles
  • North Yorkshire Moors

The Start Of The Day

The Lyke Wake walk is 40 miles or 65 km of tough, hilly open moorland, with the infamous bog. This event is sure to test even the most fit and mentally strong. 

My first experience of the Lyke Wake Walk was starting at Osmotherly (the official LWW stone). Along with my partner Emma, we set off on a truly unbelievable adventure. I have excellent navigation skills, knowledge of the North Yorkshire Moors and am a qualified Mountain Leader. I thought this was going to be a testing and challenging day. Lets just say, I was 100% correct. 

The first test was Lord Stones Whinstones, aka the ugly sisters. What makes the Lyke Wake Walk so difficult is the changing terrain and at the very start you have five good climbs. This really takes a lot out of the tank early in the day. However, the views over Teesside, the North Yorkshire Moors and the North Yorkshire Coast have to be some of the best in the UK. 

When it gets ugly most people struggle moving up hills quickly but it’s not about fitness; It is more about mindset. I find it easier to go at a steady pace and keep moving on the ups’. It is much better than stop start, stop start. Set a goal, reach it, rest, water and crack on. Here at Robustours, we stop at Clear bank for the first race at the top of the Lyke Wake Walk. It gives people a chance to realise that they are in for a tough day. 

In at the deep end

Once you get that bit out of the Way, you have got a long section on a fire track taking in the Cleveland Way which takes you all the way to the second rest stop at Blakey Ridge and the infamous famous lying in this is at 31 km. At this point we switch over instructor which helps groups feel like they are having a second day. It is very important to keep the mind physically and mentally engaged with new conversation, new staff, new ways of thinking and new styles of leadership. 

After leaving the pub there is a long road section around the Rosedale Valley then into the infamous notorious test which is the bog. When I first did this I could not believe just how boggy it was in the middle of June and also how tricky it was trying to stay on a bearing on my compass. As human beings we are tourists, naturally lazy and will always look for the route of least resistance. That means that walking through a bog and trying to keep on higher ground which will take you off your parent.

Are we there yet?

In poor weather conditions, potentially, you could get very lost in this section of the North Yorkshire Moors. It is possibly the most remote within the movies, featureless and tricky to navigate. Difficult to judge distance and boggy Heather looks like boggy Heather. There were points in my crossing Wi-Fi myself triple check in my navigation and making sure I was on the right path. Understanding the remoteness in the movies and what is needed for a group to stay hydrated and fed is very important. Carrying enough food and water for 65 days is very unrealistic. However, because of the remoteness of the movies you cannot just pop to the shop because there are no shops. 

One thing I could see in the distance was RAF Dales and it was one of those points where no matter how far I seemed to hike it didn’t get any closer, until I was standing right in front of it. Mentally it was very challenging and I found myself getting very frustrated. My partner and I had spent 10 hours together and at that point. Let’s just say we were getting a little bit pissed off with each other. I don’t think either of us spoke one word within four hours.

12km to go

However, doing the final check at that point we realised there was 12 km to go. Dressed up however you like, that is 3 to 3.5 hours any day of the week. I could not believe it. It seemed that ticking the Lyke Wake Walk off the list was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be. Even for someone like me. At the final point where we can see the bacon, it was a long track. It seemed to go on for another 40km. I remember running out of water and thinking, Why didn’t I get some water at the stream? Why have I been lazy? This is one of the main benefits to using an adventure company. They help you keep motivated, fed, washed and watered. When you cannot be bothered to sort your life out they will help you sort your life out. 

Half Way Point
Living The Dream

The Finish

Finishing, I have never been so happy to see a taxi in all of my life. I remember thinking, “God, I am definitely going to eat a large pizza tonight”. That is one thing about the Lyke Wake Walk, it is absolutely calorific. When I crossed the finish line, we had done 65 km, 40 miles, 82,000 steps and burnt 9,000 calories. These numbers alone will tell you that this is serious without a doubt and the decision of completing possibly the hardest 40 miles in the UK at the time, was not taken lightly. 

I was too tired to realise our full achievement at the end but the next day I was over the moon. Especially as that is when I realised that Robustours had to become the UK’s leading Outdoor company at delivering the Lyke Wake Walk; but it needed to be delivered in style and with safety, so we could ‘Stay Tasty’. 

So far we have had 3 complete crossings with a 90% pass rate. We choose to cross from West to East and realistically you’re looking between a 15 to 17 hour day. We set off in the morning at 7.00am and the goal is to finish before Midnight. You will hear people saying it is a 24-hour challenge, I just say, work harder and spend more time in bed.

Boots on, bag on, crack on!

Challenge Yourself

If you need some motivation and accountability, get yourself booked in on one of my events. On a Robustours event, you are never alone.

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