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Lyke Wake Walk

The Lyke Wake Walk was started by a local farmer, Bill Cowley, in the North Riding of Yorkshire, England, in 1955. He claimed that one could walk 40 miles over the North Yorkshire Moors[?] from east to west (or vice-versa) on heather[?] all the way except for crossing one or two roads and he issued a challenge that walkers took up with great enthusiasm. He challenged them to walk it in less than 24 hours from Scarth Wood Moor, near Osmotherley[?], to Ravenscar[?]. He concentrated on the west to east route because the prevailing wind[?] came from the west, in principle making it easier to walk with the wind on one's back and with the heather lying away from the walker.

The walk took its name from the Lyke Wake Dirge, probably Yorkshire's oldest dialect verse, which recounts the watching (wake) over the corpse (lyke). The walk was not meant to be taken as the route of a funeral party but the possibility of bad weather and difficult conditions make it an appropriate club song.

The end result of completing the walk was a terrific sense of achievement and a black-edged card from the Chief Dirger (Bill Cowley).

The first years of the walk were difficult as there was no worn track but eventually the walk had to be rethought because the numbers of people attempting it played havoc on the ground surface. Now various alternative routes are offered and the Walk club works with the National Park Authority to try to limit the environmental damage.

Note: The Lyke Wake Dirge was also set to music as part of the Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings[?] by Benjamin Britten.

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