Lyke Wake Walk – Done!



The best people to tell the story of the walk in aid of our family are those who did it.

Thank you !

It was 35 years ago I trod the same path but Ravenscar to Osmotherley with a group of hardened Dalesmen from Skeeby, Richmond.  I remembered very little of the route as I walked it 35 years later in the opposite direction.  I do however remember that my 15 year old body recovered rather better than the 50 year old version!

Walking gives you time to take in the views, chat with friends, share old stories and also take some time for silent contemplation. Andrew (or Knolly) featured in all of these discussions and conversation. Remembering camping near Lastingham as we passed Blakey Ridge, having a lunchtime pint of Tim Taylors (didn’t hit the sides), the famous breakfast Knol cooked us all at Malham Youth Hostel (no…it wasn’t edible) and crossing the North York Moors Railway on the last stage as darkness fell.
Fantastic weather, company and a great cause.  I just need to remember not to book a flight at 10.30 from Birmingham the next day again….2 hours sleep was not quite enough to recover!

It was one hot day the 17 of June, as I waited for a lift to the start, at 5am.  I love being outside really early, just before sunrise and feeling that connection to the natural world.  The walk started and finished and all through it, I thought about ‘stuff’ but the really amazing upside to being really tired and sore, is that at some point all the noisy irrelevant chatter in your head recedes and is replaced by a feeling of quiet and peace.  My feet were not at peace by 30 miles and I was sunburnt and feeling grim but inside my mind, I was in a great place.

I kept looking at everyone else around me and thinking that it was great and more than enough, just to be there with them all.  I occasionally managed to look up from my feet, trudging and had the breath knocked out of me by the awesome views of moorland, valley and hillside.

We talked a lot about you Knoll and so your ears must have been ringing.  The day was great and I wouldn’t have missed it for ‘ought’ but it did nothing for my hair, make up or personal style.  Looked pretty trashed at the end of it!


Conceived on our second pint at The Duke of York in York, the idea was aired by our forth and by our sixth we had formulated a fantastic plan…..The Lyke Wake Walk, a distance of 40 miles. Our enthusiasm was boundless, do it in one day! Forward seven months, with my lucky socks and with a wing and a prayer, we enthusiastic and nervous souls (or maybe even soles) bounded out of the car at Osmotherley at 6am. Our aim was to be in The Falcon, Ravenscar by 10pm, for some liquid refreshments. So we began, on the hottest day of the year, breaking the distance down into bite- sized chunks of ten miles as we had arranged to meet our back- up man to keep us stocked up with flapjacks, water and Eccles cakes. The first ten miles is up and down dale until you reach the top and the stunning views out towards Roseberry Topping, far to the right, Teesside. The second ten miles are more gentle, along an old railway line and we marched on to complete twenty miles, rewarding ourselves with a pint and chips lunch. Spurred on and in good spirits we started across the North York Moors and a sea of heather and hidden bogs. We marvelled at other walkers, a mixture of locals and Americans, reading their maps to follow the coast to coast walk. Doggedly, we marched on, relying on GPS to find our way along the far more elusive Lyke Wake Walk. So, into the final ten miles, it dawned on us that we might not make last orders at the pub. The sunshine of the day fell away by 10.30 and 4 miles short of our end point. The conversation dropped away but quietness brought out noises of the curlews, lapwings, black grouse and screams of birds sensing danger from predators in the night. We faced a final tricky climb with head torches as our only guide. With two miles to go, all talking had stopped along with the feeling in our legs. For a brief period of time we mirrored our great mate Knolly, who can no longer walk, no longer speak or drink a pint. Then, the lights of Ravenscar appeared in the distance. We thought we heard the chunk of the key in the lock as the landlord locked up for the night, or was that wishful thinking? Finally, we had done it and the ecstasy of getting our bloody boots off, was worth more than any pint. But it also brought a collective sigh of relief, a sense of achievement, emotion and elation, tinged with humility. I thought of the reasons we had all committed to this exceptional task and I know we did it out of love for our friend but I know he was with us every inch of the way as we reminisced about our happy memories of school and growing up. We thought about the happy times, weddings, children, being grown up. With our fundraising total reached and back home with my family, yes, I have two black toenails, a family of blisters, achy knees yet…..what have I really got to complain about? They will be better soon.


6.00am in the car park at Cod Beck Reservoir was bright, sunny and already feeling warm. Full of anticipation, air filled with laughter, a long day ahead. Along the road, then following the Cleveland Way, our path climbs to the Rim of Cleveland – an escarpment edge over-looking the flat land of Cleveland below. Carlton Moor, Crinkle Moor, then up the Wainstones onto Hasty Bank. First check point – more water and cold drinks (it’s getting hot) – then ascend to Round Hill, the highest point on the North Yorkshire Moors. Follow the old railway line now, glimpses of the Great Incline, past Bloworth Crossing, and onto Farndale Head. Tim recounts the railway and mining history – memories of walking here as teenagers and visiting his caravan in Rosedale. First Lunch stop looking down Farndale, renowned for its daffodil trail, then onto Blackey Ridge. Second check point and second lunch stop at the Lion Inn – homemade chips, beer for some (thanks Brian!) – celebrate the halfway point but this puts some delay into the schedule – tight now to finish before dark.

Set off from Lion Inn – the next sections will be tough – boggy even in summer, undefined paths, slow going. A baby adder on the road as we go around Rosedale Head, then off onto the moors. Hot now, about 28 degrees Celsius – very wet in places means finding firmer ground to get around without getting wet and mud in your socks. Then onto White Moor – hard going, knee high heather, no real paths, a full size adder snaking over my foot. Twisting and turning over Wheeldale Moor, tiredness setting in as we arrive at the third check point. More water and cold drinks – also energy bars, flapjack and crisps (salt replacement) – over two hours behind schedule but comfort we have hit 30 miles….not much more to go. Down to Wheeldale Beck and over the stepping stones, climb to Howl Moor then onto Crag Stone Rigg. Approaching the North Yorkshire Moors Railway – reminiscing of days with Andrew in the ticket office and Tim serving refreshments on the trains, sleeping in the station house….and the reason for my visits, beer in the pub. We cross the line – photos for Andrew – then onto Eller Beck and the next check point. Ground very wet again making it difficult. RAF Fylingdales watching us struggle – but no ‘golf ball’ now, old technology long since replaced. Up to Lilla Cross – cooler now the sun has gone but still a warm 18 degrees – darkness will be along soon. Tired legs over High Moor and the light goes just as we try to find the path. Wading though bracken, head torches out, then difficult descent in the dark to cross Jugger Howe Beck. Push up hill, silence as everyone concentrates on moving forward onto the final check point. Two miles to go, pick up the pace to reach the finish in just 35 minutes – tired but elated, we have made it – 12.30am.

41 miles, over 5000 feet of ascent in 18.5 hours – The Lyke Wake Walk – phew!

Author: Andrew Knowlman

I am a 50-year old father of two children, married to Jane. I live in Hertfordshire, UK. I was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis in April 2015.

One thought on “Lyke Wake Walk – Done!”

  1. Thank you all for your kindness and generosity. The kids and I appreciate all your blood, sweat and tears and (blackened toenails)! We hope to see you all soon. Bless you. Love Jane, Valentina and Sebastian

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