British Travel Journal
3 BEST TRAIL
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.