The Lyke Wake Walk is a demanding 40-mile crossing on foot over the North York Moors between Osmotherley and Ravenscar.
The name Lyke is from the Old English for corpse, and Wake means to watch over the body, and together they remember the funeral journeys in which corpses were carried from remote communities to the nearest church so that they could be buried in consecrated ground.
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Further back still it was also associated with the idea that the dead were transported over the moors for burial at the highest point. The routes taken were often known as corpse or coffin roads and you can also find them on the Pennines and Cumbrian fells. The journey is commemorated in Lyke Wake Dirge, a popular folk song which has its roots in the mournful recitations chanted for departing souls.
1. Out of town
Leave Osmotherley and walk northwards up the main street towards Cod Beck Reservoir and the youth hostel. Turn left on to Ruebury Lane and follow the Cleveland Way out across the hillside. A path on the right leads to Lady Chapel, built in the 1960s on the site of a medieval shrine and still hosting regular services and pilgrimages.
2. Into the woods
When you reach Arncliffe Wood, fork right uphill (still the Cleveland Way). Emerging from the conifers at the top, go past a telecommunications station until you reach a trig point in the corner of the field. This is the official starting point for the Lyke Wake Walk.
Continue across the open moorland ahead, with wonderful views of the moorland escarpment and the conical Roseberry Topping in the far distance, then follow the bridleway as it swings right and down to the road at the bottom.
3. To the tearooms
Turn right and walk along the lane as far as the bend by the ford. To your right is a car park, opposite which is a marker stone for the Lyke Wake Walk. However, your route is across the ford or footbridge and up the wide track opposite.
Continue over the moors then along the side of a plantation on a wide, easy track. This is High Lane, an old drovers road once used by cattle drovers to move their herds to market at Malton and York. The track eventually emerges on an open lane where you turn left to reach the Chequers Tea Room.
4. Lanes to Osmotherley
Chequers is a former drovers’ inn, now offering tasty homemade refreshments for hungry walkers. Just along the lane from here take the path downhill to the right. At the bottom turn right on to the Cleveland Way and follow this back into Osmotherley.
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