Lyke Wake Walk - Essential info on this legendary route, a 40 mile walking challenge across the North York Moors

Lyke Wake Walk challenge North York Moors Yorkshire map route tips
The Lyke Wake Walk is a 40 mile walking challenge across the highest and widest part of the North York Moors National Park in Yorkshire - it is one of the toughest and most rewarding walks I've done. Read on to learn more  


The Lyke Wake Walk - a legendary walking challenge across the North York Moors

The Lyke Wake Walk is one of the UK's oldest walking challenges and is a complete crossing of the North Yorkshire Moors, Englands largest expanse of heather moorland, from the marker stone at Cod Beck Reservoir (near Osmotherley) in the west to Ravenscar (the bar in Raven Hall Hotel to be exact!) on the east Yorkshire coast. It was once one of the most popular UK walking challenges in the 1970's and 80's but it's now less well known and other walking challenges have become more popular since then.

Walking 40 miles in one go is no easy task, and many who attempt it drop out part way through. I completed the Lyke Wake walk in May 2023 with 10 mates in around 16 hours and it's one of the toughest walks I've done. Not in terms of fitness, but it takes its toll on your body and it requires good mental strength to keep ploughing on! However we all completed it, and a lot of that was due to good planning, and I'd like to share some of our experience and tips to help you do the walk if you are think about it, as whilst it was very challenging - its one of the most rewarding things I've done in the outdoors, and with my good mates.

Lyke Wake Walk challenge North York Moors Yorkshire map route tips
The Lyke Wake Walk is a complete crossing of the North York Moors, Englands largest expanse of heather moorland

History of The Lyke Wake Walk

In 1955, the late Bill Cowley originated the concept of the walk with an open challenge to cross the North York Moors on foot from West to East within 24 hours. He subsequently completed a crossing with 12 others in 23 hours and the group subsequently founded the now famous 'Lyke Wake Club', and the walk became one of the UK’s first 'challenge' walks.

The route itself has a dark twist to it, which adds to its appeal and reputation as it covers in parts old coffin routes and passes ancient burial mounds on the way. The walk name itself derives from a lyke, “the corpse” and the wake “watching over the deceased”. 

In the 50 years that followed since its inception, it’s thought over 160,000 people have completed the walk, with it being very popular in the 70s & 80s. Numbers doing the walk decreased since then, with concerns about damage to the moorland by landowners and other walking challenges becoming more popular. However new paths have developed and people continue to do the walk and it’s still one of the longest 24 hour walking challenges in the U.K. 

The Lyke Wake Walk - our tried & tested map route 

First things first, you need to know the best route to do the walk. Now officially, there is no official route haha - you just need to get from Osmotherley (Cod Beck Reservoir Marker Stone) to Ravenscar on the coast, however most people who complete the walk generally end up walking a similar route. Before our group tackled the walk, we found a few gpx routes to use, and a few of us downloaded different ones to use, which led us astray a little in some parts - mainly around the section after the Lion Inn pub. So I'd like to share with you our tried and tested map route below. Due to the sheer length of the walk - it's hard to show it in detail in one screenshot - so click the button under the map to view it in more detail on OS Maps.

The Lyke Wake Walk Map Route
Here's our Lyke Wake Walk map route in all it's 40 mile glory! Click the button below to view it in more detail and zoom in etc. I really recommend tackling the walk west to east, where you will face the Cleveland Hills steeper up & down sections first when you have the energy. The Cleveland way section of the walk is very well defined with clear flag stone paths - it's hard to go wrong here, (except at certain junctions) and the path is clear all the way to the Lion Inn pub. After the Lion Inn pub the route is less defined - and the section of the walk which begins at Loose Howe all the way to Shunner Howe - is not very clear at all - you are essentially walking through boggy terrain in and amongst long grass at parts so you need to keep on track here to avoid getting lost. Once past Shunner Howe the path is again more clearly defined, but there are points you will need to check you are still taking the right paths at various junctions. Download .GPX file here

If you don't have a Phone Map App - I really recommend the one by Ordnance Survey. You can download route maps, such as this one to your phone and the app will show you exactly where you are on the route at all times even when you have no signal - so no taking a wrong turn :-)

Breaking the Lyke Wake Walk up into chunks (and places to meet support cars)

We broke the walk up into chunks so the 40 mile walk didn't seem so daunting! (It's always good to break big walking challenges up into smaller, more achievable goals). We also were fortunate in that we had someone in a car who would meet us at 2 pre-defined check-points to bring supplies and kit - which meant we had to carry less (who was also on hand just in case anyone had to drop out!). 


The first section we defined was from the the Lyke Wake Walk marker stone at Cod Beck Reservoir to the Lion Inn Pub (18 miles), where we met our support car for a good rest & recharge (Hasty Bank just after the Wainstones is another good check-point to meet a car if you want to break it up further, after around 9 miles). The Lion Inn pub is a good checkpoint to have as it's almost half way, you can buy drinks & snacks here if needs be and use the loo too! Very useful haha


We then next met our support car at Eller Beck, around 12 miles on from the Lion Inn pub, which marked the end of the most gruelling section for me. I'd say this section that was the most difficult because of the boggy terrain from Loose Howe to Shunner Howe (we weren't even sure we where on the right track here - we where though - so again I recommend saving our map route above). From Shunner Howe your feet will probably be wet from any boggy parts so I recommend changing into drier socks as soon as you can after Shunner Howe to prevent blisters. (If it's been particulary wet you may even want to change shoes!) It's a long old slog to Eller Beck and you can see this point from a great distance due to the pyramidal shape of the big RAF flying dales building being near it - which never seems to get any closer after hours haha. You'll have to hang on in there at this point and plough on through. 


At Eller Beck it's a good point to stop, refuel, get caffeine and carbs on board, change your socks (again!) and get your head in a more positive mindset to finish and try and "enjoy" the rest of the walk as the end point is "only" 10 miles away. I actually enjoyed the last section as my feet where in decent shape and the end (and a pint) where in sight. What's 10 miles when you've just walked 30 haha. This section is largely flat with a couple of little denes to navigate up & down.

Lyke Wake Walk challenge North York Moors Yorkshire map route tips
You might encounter a hand full of signs on The Lyke Wake walk - but there aren't many - I'd strongly suggest you have gpx routes saved to follow to avoid wrong turns 

How long is the Lyke Wake Walk and what time does it take?

The Lyke Wake walk is around 40 miles and the challenge is to complete it in under 24 hours. We actually done it in 16 hours inc stops - at our normal walking pace - which is what we anticipated we could do it in. I think we could have shaved another hour off if really going for time as our stopping time for rest and food totalled about 2.5 hours. I think the average time to complete the walk is around 17.5 hours, so pretty pleased with our effort.

When is the best time to do the Lyke wake Walk?

As the Lyke Wake Walk will likely take you around 16-18 hours - I recommend doing the walk when daylight hours are longest - so around June time. We completed our crossing at the end of May 2023, and started the walk at 4am (an hour before sunrise) - and it was light enough to walk without torches at this time because it starts getting light about 1 hour before sunrise. We finished at 8pm, in good time to enjoy the sunset at Ravenscar with a pint! So our crossing was all in day light. Some like to do it through the night - which would add another dimension to the walk and make it more of a challenge - but you'd miss some of the stunning views to be had. Some Lyke Wake Walk purists will say the only way to do the walk is through a long winter night on your own - now that would be tough and a mental as well as physical challenge! I'd also recommend doing the walk when the weather is driest (summer) - as the boggy section between Lowe Howe and Shunnwer Howe would be very tricky in wet weather. If you want the views, then the heather in the moors blooms in August - so that would be an ideal time to complete the walk surrounded by a carpet of pink heather for much of the route!

Lyke Wake Walk challenge North York Moors Yorkshire map route tips
Read on to learn about some tips for the Lyke Wake Walk

What are the best tips for the Lyke Wake Walk? 

The Lyke Wake Walk is the longest walk I've done in one day at just over 40 miles. Prior to that the longest walk I'd done in a day was the Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge at 24 miles. There a some tips I'd like to share below to help you plan your Lyke Wake Walk challenge and make it more likely for you to complete it, and even enjoy it - see below:

  • Get the walk route planned. First, ensure you are very familiar with the route and have the exact route planned, and downloaded to your phone to work offline (multiple peoples phone) and also ensure you have paper maps, plan for things going wrong with digital devices! I suggest following the route I link I shared above - it's the only one I come across that can be followed to the step.
  • Plan your date/time to do the walk. As mentioned it's easiest in mid summer when the daylight hours are longest and you can start just before sunrise.
  • Train right. A long walk is not necessarily a fitness thing. Sure you need to be relatively fit, and capable of walking 20+ miles. However the physical training is more getting your body, and feet, prepared to be able to handle the pounding. You don't need to be able to run a half marathon. My longest training walk was 20 miles, however I made sure I was doing lots of walks on a daily basis - some long, some short to get my body and feet just used to walking.
  • Invest in good quality walking shoes. Poor quality walking shoes will tell after extended time on your feet and and more likely to give your feet issues. Invest wisely and make sure you get plenty of miles in them before the long walk so they are well-worn. The weather was dry on my Lyke wake Walk crossing and I wore my Soloman Trail Trainers - Other than the boggy section mentioned above - trail trainers where able to handle the paths. 
  • Blisters are your enemy on the Lyke Wake Walk. To help combat blisters - which could make your crossing more painful I suggest; 1. Wear good quality walking shoes 2. Wear good quality walking socks like those made of merino wool. 3. Change your socks after every 10 miles or so (damp feet are more likely to get blisters) - add talc to your feet at these changes if you can to keep them dry 4. Air your feet at your rest points if the weather allows. 4. Take specialist blister plasters if they still make an appearance.
  • Sort your niggles & minor injuries before your walk. On long walks over 15/20 miles- any little niggles can turn into bigger niggles. I found on a long 20 mile training walk a few weeks before the Lyke wake Walk I developed IT band & lower back niggles. Not big issues - but gave me some serious discomfort - so I made sure I did plenty of stretching and foam rolling in the couple of weeks before the Lyke Wake Walk and had no issues on the actual walk. Your stretching in the weeks before the walk is as important as getting the miles in.
  • Get your food & drink right. Carry enough food & water with you to get you through either the entire walk - or to your checkpoint where you might meet a support car (highly recommended! Otherwise you'll have to carry a lot of heavy water). The Lion Inn pub is a place you can definitely fill up on water (if you walk is during the day and you don't have a support vehicle) so you don't necessarily have to carry all your water with you. I started the walk with 2 litres of water and topped up at the lion inn. In terms of food I take with me on long hikes, I go for carb heavy items, like peanut butter bagels, bananas, cereal/protein bars, energy gels and jelly babies. I'm not one for energy drinks normally - but a can of redbull at the 2 checkpoints helped lift the spirts, and a cold icey glass of coke at the Lion Inn was quite refreshing in the sunshine.
  • Use a support vehicle. Theres a chance that some may not complete the walk, due to injury or just being totally demoralised - so you may need someone to come and get you! A support vehicle is also very useful to carry food, water and a kit change.
  • Get your clothing right. Knowing the weather forecast is key to this so make your self very familiar with it up to the day before your Lyke Wake Walk. You want to travel as light as possible - and on our crossing the weather was warm, sunny and dry (ideal)- so shorts and a t-shirt was sufficient - with a fleece in the bag as back up. Due to the sunshine - a hat was key to keep the sunstroke away and plenty of suncream was used. Obviously in colder weather - more layers are needed - and in wet weather you want the best waterproofs you can get your hands on (and spare clothes at the support vehicle) I can imagine doing the Lyke Wake Walk in the rain would be much more difficult and less enjoyable than the dry weather.
  • Get your kit right. Your bag will need to be big enough to carry what you need - which will depend on the weather and if you have a support vehicle to share the burden and carry some stuff to the checkpoints. I used walking poles for the first section of the walk along the Cleveland Hills ups & downs, and then ditched them in the car at the Lion Inn as I knew the route was flatter for the rest of the walk. As I rely a lot on my phone for directions, and taking photos - a battery power bank came in handy too as I was using my phone quite a lot for 16 solid hours! 
  • Proper planning prevents p*ss poor performance. I don't need to say much more than this haha If you train right and can walk more than 20 miles on a training route, and take the right stuff (food, kit) I'm confident you'll be able to complete The Lyke Wake Walk (if the weather is kind). In our group of 11, we all finished it, and there were a few question marks over the fitness of some lol. A couple of our group did suffer from blisters, and had some mental wobbles - but we all carried each other through it.
  • Enjoy it. Whilst theres no denying walking 40 miles is not a walk in the park haha, and there will be tough moments, if you are prepared, then it will be a really excellent walking challenge to do and very rewarding. I was absolutely knackered at the end of it - but look back at a really great day with good mates and one of the best outdoor things I've done - and not many can say they've done 40 miles in a day.

Photos of our Lyke Wake Walk challenge

Lyke Wake Walk challenge North York Moors Yorkshire map route tips
The Lyke Wake Walk marker stone just near the car park at Cod Beck Reservoir  at 4am on the 27th May 2023. We all took head lamps & torches but to be honest at this time of year around 50 mins before sunrise - we didn't need them.

Lyke Wake Walk challenge North York Moors Yorkshire map route tips
It soon gets quite light and first light is such a nice time to walk with no one else about. After walking through wooded paths on the Cleveland Way for the start of the Lyke Wake Walk - we soon get glimpse of the first little hill to climb up on Live Moor

Lyke Wake Walk challenge North York Moors Yorkshire map route tips
Reaching our first little summit hill on the Lyke Wake walk as the day breaks 

The first section of the Lyke Wake along the Cleveland Hills is a stunning place to walk, with excellent views along the full stretch, more so in the early morning as the sun rises. The path is also really easy to follow and mostly flag stones along the hills, so Trail Trainers are perfectly fine here.

The Cleveland Hills section of the Lyke Wake walk is full of ups and downs and there is 5 main uphill sections before it flattens out once you get to Carr Ridge at around the half way point to the Lion Inn Pub which is 18 miles from the start. It's for this reason it's best to walk the Lyke Wake walk west to east, and tackle this section first when you have the most energy 

We are all full of energy at the start of the Lyke Wake Walk, tackling the Cleveland Hills with no bother at all and it's a really enjoyable walk from Cod Beck Reservoir to the Lion Inn pub

The first section of the Lyke Wake along the Cleveland Hills is a stunning place to walk, with excellent views along the full stretch, more so in the early morning as the sun rises. The path is also really easy to follow and mostly flag stones along the hills, so Trail Trainers are perfectly fine here.

The first section of the Lyke Wake along the Cleveland Hills is a stunning place to walk, with excellent views along the full stretch, more so in the early morning as the sun rises. The path is also really easy to follow and mostly flag stones along the hills, so Trail Trainers are perfectly fine here.

It's around 11am now and the sun is beating down. Time to get the sunscreen on! The path is like this all the way to the pub!

The first glimpse of The Lion Inn pub in the distance. A pub literally in the middle of nowhere

Our support vehicle meets us for the first time and it's a good chance to get a decent rest in, give the feet an airing, change socks, t-shirt & shorts, enjoy some food and top up our water. The pub is also a good tactical stop to use the toilet facilities and get a refreshing drink - a pint is tempting - but caffeine is the way to go!

And we are all refreshed and ready to go again. 18 miles ticked off no bother - 22 miles to go! Next stop to meet the car is Eller Beck 12 miles away

I thought I'd share a more detailed section of the route map here as after the Lion Inn pub you will soon face the trickiest, boggy section (highlighted in pink above). However immediately after the Lion Inn Pub - people take slightly different routes to reach the start of the boggy section at Loose Howe. Some may swing directly north after the Lion Inn and stick to the road (yellow on map) Using roads are cheating though haha The route we had planned and on our .gpx file we saved went directly east down to Hollin Bush and then Dale Head farm, and whilst there is a path marked on the map in this direction - we simply couldn't find it - it wasn't clear at all. So we instead followed the more defined path which circumnavigates the River Seven valley. It's slightly longer than dipping down into the valley base, but easier to follow. I really recommend taking this route. Once you are then into the boggy section - the path becomes rather tricky to follow in some parts, as you can see below. Your .gpx file will come in very handy here to stick to the right direction. On our crossing we had a week of dry weather before - and there was still some rather damp parts, which we could usually skirt around or jump over, but we did get wet shoes in parts. After wet weather, outside of summer, this section will more than likely lead to wet shoes, so change your socks or even boots as soon as you come to the yellow road. This spot at the end of the highlighted pink section would be a good place to meet a support vehicle if you have one 

On the path that circumnavigates the River Seven valley, which goes in a sort of U shape. This path is easy to follow

Lyke Wake Walk challenge North York Moors Yorkshire map route tips
Stunning views around here once again! Just be mindful of the path that leaves this main path coming up on your left which heads up hill quite steeply towards Loose Howe

We head in the direction of Loose Howe and the path becomes less well defined

This section of the Lyke Wake walk from Loose Howe to Shunner Howe is the least well defined and hardest to follow. In the log grass you need to look out for the white marker sticks, and keep referring back to your .gpx map route to ensure you are heading in the right direction 

Lyke Wake Walk challenge North York Moors Yorkshire map route tips
This photo gives you an idea of some of the bogs on this section. It's not all like this - and we could skirt around boggy bits like this - but in saying that - it hadn't rained for a week before our walk end of May - so this is perhaps about as dry as it gets up here!

And Robbie loses his shoe in a particulary muddy bit! Be prepared to get your feet wet up here, and have a plan to get them drier after Shunner Howe - because wet feet are more likely to create blisters. Unfortunately Robbie didn't have any spare shows, and despite changing socks he probably come to suffer the most with blisters (I managed to keep my feet relatively dry, and despite changing socks about 4 times, still suffered in the end with blisters to the big toes!)

Lyke Wake Walk challenge North York Moors Yorkshire map route tips
More of the deeper boggy section which can be jumped over in parts 

Lyke Wake Walk challenge North York Moors Yorkshire map route tips
Once past Shunner Howe the path is narrow but easy to follow. In this pic in the far distance you can make out the pyramidal shape of the RAF Flyingdales building and Eller Beck is near here. It seems to take an absolute age to walk this section as the view rarely changes and Raf Flyingdales never seems to get any closer. You've just got to slog it out!

Lyke Wake Walk challenge North York Moors Yorkshire map route tips
This section of the Lyke Wake walk seems to last forever, probably because the view rarely changes! 

At last RAF Flyingdales gets a little closer and we are nearly at the Eller Beck checkpoint in the valley dip in the distance 

I must admit it felt a bit of a slog towards Eller Beck, I think largely due to the monotonous moorland views, but after another rest, some more food and nice can of coke - despite feeling a little stiff, we are refreshed once again, spirits are good and ready to tackle the last 10 miles. Despite a couple of the 11 on the walk feeling the strain, theres no way we are dropping out the walk now, with the end relatively in sight. 

Lyke Wake Walk challenge North York Moors Yorkshire map route tips
The Lyke Wake Walk path is clear once again and we get glimpse of the north-sea from quite a distance

The end point is in sight - Ravenscar is around 3 miles away!

And now Raven Hall Hotel is in sight! My knees are pretty shot at this point, and perhaps its because the end is near and my guard is down, but I'm ready to stop walking now haha

Lyke Wake Walk challenge North York Moors Yorkshire map route tips
And we've done it - we've completed the 40 miles of Lyke Wake Walk in around 16 hours. It's 8pm now, we set off at 4am and we're pretty shattered. It's time for a well earned cold pint and we raise a flag in tribute to our mate, Wrighty, who passed away a year earlier. The reason we actually done the Lyke Wake Walk was because it was our old mate who first mentioned The Lyke Wake walk (I'd never heard of it) - so we thought we'd do it in his honour and raise some money for Alice House Hospice who looked after him where he spent his last days being cared for. This one was for you Wrighty!

And there we are! That must be one of the most enjoyable pints I've had haha. The weather has been kind to us today and the sunsets in a spectacular setting at Ravenscar. The outdoor beer garden at Raven Hall is a nice place to relax as the day comes to a close and we've literally been walking from sunrise to sunset. The furthest I had walked in one go before The Lyke Wake walk was the 25 miles or so on the Yorkshire Three Peaks, and whilst it was a bit of a slog at times, the Lyke Wake Walk is one of the most rewarding things I've done. It was great to do it with some of my best mates and chew the fat all day. If you are someone who likes walking challenges then get the Lyke Wake Walk on your to do list - I highly recommend it! If you've got any questions, just post a comment and I'll be happy to help.

Happy Hiking!

Post by Stuart Hodgson 
'The Hiking Photographer'

Subscribe to my monthly email newsletter to stay up to date with all my outdoor adventures, including my latest photos & walking blog posts, as well as a whole host of tips & interesting stuff for outdoor enthusiasts, just click the link below to subscribe.

A useful blog post on recommended essential walking gear



  1. Do you ever offer readers of your blog to join you on the walks

    1. Hi - not at the moment but it’s a plan for the future to organise group walks

    2. Good tips! When you say the middle section is that before or after the Lion Inn at Blakey Ridge?

  2. Me and a group of friends did it last year. The middle section is insanely boggy - take more socks than feels reasonable! Also when you get to the old railway track be really careful you take correct left turn, its easy to miss

    1. Excellent tips - spare socks are a must of long distance walks, especially so The Lake Wake Walk - anything to keep the feet dry and prevent blisters!


Thanks for taking an interest in my blog, all comments and questions are welcome! Best, Stuart

Blog Design Created by pipdig