British Travel Journal

3 BEST TRAIL

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THE LYKE WAKE WALK

This 40-mile crossing of the remote North York Moors starts near Osmotherle­y and finishes near Ravenscar on the East Sea coast. It is possible to do the entire route on heather, hardly ever stepping onto a roadway. Although the walk was only designated in 1955, it took its name from the old Scandinavi­an word for a corpse (Lyke) because when the Vikings ruled Yorkshire the people who inhabited this area would carry their dead across these moors to their ancestral burial grounds. There is a powerful ancient hymn (set by Benjamin Britten, amongst others) called The Lyke-Wake Dirge which conjures up the terrors of crossing these moors by night.

When farmer/broadcaste­r Bill Cowley created the Lyke Wake Challenge in 1955 he proposed that all 40 miles be completed in 24 hours. Undertakin­g the route today in a less spartan manner, the Lyke Wake Walk offers the chance to see a landscape crossed by few other travellers and no signs of modern developmen­t. It feels like stepping into history.

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