The Lyke Wake Walk is a challenging hike across the wildest and most isolated part of the North York Moors National Park.
Steeped in folklore, the trail is synonymous with old moorland coffin routes and explores a melancholic landscape that has been used for macabre-ceremony since the Bronze Age.
The Lyke Wake Walk is a 24-hour challenge that crosses 40 miles (64 kilometers) of the North York Moors between Osmotherley in the west and Ravenscar on the east coast. It is an undulating and exposed route with grueling climbs and some boggy sections.
Every person who completes the challenge within 24 hours and reports it to the New Lyke Wake Club is eligible for a free membership. Female members are titled ‘Witch’ and males are titled ‘Dirger’.
The trail’s name gives a clue to its ghostly sensibilities. ’Lyke’ means ‘corpse’ while ‘wake’ is the act of watching over it, hence ‘watching over the corpse walk’. The name originates from Lyke Wake Dirge, one of Yorkshire's oldest surviving dialect verses.
The route was pioneered in the mid-nineties due to its remoteness. With the exception of a few road crossings, the trail is almost entirely natural terrain. You do not encounter much civilization. In fact, you might not see a soul on the hike.
In this Collection, we split the Lyke Wake Walk into two stages. Due to how remote the landscape is, accommodation is limited and splitting the route any further will take some forward-planning.
Whilst dividing the 24-hour challenge may feel much more manageable, each of these stages remains very challenging. Both routes involve long distance, a great deal of ascent and descent, rough terrain, and do not pass facilities and shops.
Only experienced long-distance walkers with a good level of fitness should attempt this hike. Preparation is vital. Ensuring you have the right clothing, enough food and water, and the correct equipment—maps, compass, torch, first aid, gps devices, charger banks—is essential.
If you are planning to arrive by public transport, you can catch a train to Northallerton, which has direct trains from York, Leeds, London, and Manchester, among others, and connecting services around the UK.
From Northallerton, you can catch the 80 or 89 bus service to Osmotherley. From the village it is just over one mile (one-and-a-half kilometers) to the northern tip of Cod Beck Reservoir, where the hike begins.
To get home, you would need to catch the 115 bus service from Ravenscar to Scarborough, where you can catch direct trains to York, Leeds, and Manchester, as well as connecting services around the UK.
If you are planning to arrive by car, your best bet is to negotiate with a hotel or B&B a rate to stay for a night either side of your hike in Osmotherley.
To get back, you need would need to catch the 115 bus service from Ravenscar to Scarborough, where you can catch a train to Northallerton with a transfer in York. From Northallerton, you can catch the 80 or 89 bus service to Osmotherley.
Alternatively, you could look for long-stay parking in York or Leeds, both of which have good public transport links with the start and finish of the trail.
For more information about the Speyside Way, visit: lykewake.org.
For the 80/89 bus service, visit: getdown.org.uk/bus/bus/80.shtml.
For the 115 bus service visit: getdown.org.uk/bus/bus/115.shtml.
For train timetables and tickets, visit: thetrainline.com.
The first stage takes you high onto the lonely moors where you experience melancholic beauty and a sumptuous sense of solitude.
You explore the Cleveland Hills on this hike, which boast great views over Teesside and the rugged landscape of North York Moors National Park.
Starting from the northern tip of Cod Beck Reservoir, it is level walking over Scarth Moor before the trail joins the Cleveland Way ahead of a sharp ascent onto Live Moor.
The trail continues climbing to a high point at Carlton Bank and then descends to Lordstones. From here, it is a tough climb onto Cringle Moor.
When you reach Cringle End, you are afforded a wonderful view of the Cleveland plain. According to the sitting plate, you can see as far as Cross Fell and the Penshaw Monument in clear conditions.
Following a couple more sharp ascents and descents you reach The Wainstones, a distinctive rocky outcrop that affords wonderful views over Middlesbrough and the Tees.
You then climb over White Hill before dropping to the road at Clay Bank. From here, you begin the climb onto the vast expanse of Urra Moor.
Round Hill trig point marks the highest point of Urra Moor and the national park. At 1,490 feet (454 meters), it is a rugged and windswept landscape with a spellbinding charm.
You depart from the Cleveland Way at Bloworth Crossing and continue west over Farndale Moor and High Blakey Moor before descending to Blakey Ridge, where this stage finishes.
There is one accommodation option at Blakey Ridge, the Lion Inn, which also serves food. If you cannot book here, the nearest accommodation is in Rosedale East, roughly three miles (five kilometers) further along the road. Many accommodation providers will offer a pick-up service.
The centuries fall into each other on this hike as Bronze Age burial chambers, medieval crosses, and 17th-century works remains merge in the isolated moorland landscape.
From Blakey Ridge, the trail descends gradually over Wether Hill and Rosedale Moor through a vast expanse of wild heather and bog.
The trail reaches a low-point to cross Wheeldale Beck, where you are treated to a small stretch of farmland before you begin climbing through lonely heather moorland once again.
A short time later you reach Simon Howe, which boasts a well-preserved Bronze Age round cairn, a stone row, and a standing stone, as well as wonderful views over the wild expanse of Goathland Moor and beyond.
The trail continues over Fylingdales Moor to Jugger Howe, where you can see a number of Bronze Age burial cairns.
You continue over Stony Marl Moor and Howdale Moor to finish the trail at Beacon Howes, on the outskirts of Ravenscar.
This stage takes you into the village itself, via Peak Alum Works and some sea views, to make for an epic finish. This adds around one-and-a-half miles (two-and-a-half kilometers).
There is not much in Ravenscar but you will find some options for accommodation and food and drink. There are plenty of options nearby, too.
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