LDWANorth Yorkshire

Smuggler’s Trod 2023 – LDWA Challenge Event

What better way to spend an August Bank Holiday Saturday than by going on an LDWA challenge walk?


Hayley and I were fortunate that our B&B owner kindly got up early to make us a quick breakfast and Simon and Jane picked us up after having a night at their luxury hotel and we set off on our adventure. The breakfast ensured that Hayley and I were fuelled for the day with an air of excitement to the whole arrangement. This is the third time that I’ve entered the LDWA’s Smuggler’s Trod 26 mile challenge event operated by Yorkshire Coast group, this time I would again be walking with Hayley, Jane and Simon. Richard was also at the event, but he was taking part in the shorter 17 mile version of the walk as he was keen to have a drama free event and an easy completion for his first challenge event. Richard parked around one mile away in the free car park, whilst Simon swept into the car park at the hall itself where the walk started.


Here we are, Jane, Hayley, Simon and myself, all ready for the off.


There are many reasons why this is one of my favourite challenge events, but the views right from the start are one of them. The walk starts up something of a steep hill, not something that I’m particularly used to in flat and steady Norfolk.


There’s a fair amount of walking over the moors, but we were fortunate with the weather which wasn’t too hot and there was plenty of breeze from the North Sea.


Snaking (and I’m pleased to say that I didn’t see any of the snakes that are running wild and unsupervised across this area) through the heather just before the split of the short and long walks. We hadn’t seen Richard on the walk as he decided to take it leisurely to ensure that there were no disasters on his expedition.


This is a tremendous walk, such a change of scenery for me compared to Norfolk.


This event is organised by the LDWA’s Yorkshire Coast and they had plenty of checkpoints and always friendly and supportive volunteers. We were wondering at this point at how Richard was getting on as he was walking alone, but we were confident that he was gliding through taking it leisurely. I was fortunate enough to have Simon and his technology guiding me around the event, saving me from doing the navigation.


There are many sections of the walk that I remember from previous events, not least this walk through the ferns.


We battled through, although Jane had a little falling incident here.


Our first checkpoint and I was delighted to see Yum Yums available at the event once again.

Shortly after this Hayley had a little incident and Jane dropped her cake, both disasters in their different ways. To cut a long story short, after some more walking and some debate, Simon and I then went on together to storm through the event because you can’t hold natural athletes such as us back.


This cave is rumoured to have been cut out by George Chubb in 1790, although I’m not entirely sure that I believe this local legend.


A boardwalk through the forested area with a drop down to the river on the left. This was on the long route only, so I was pleased that Richard didn’t need to concern himself with falling down and having an incident. We once again wondered how he was getting on with his short route walk whilst we were enjoying the variety of terrains that we were walking through.


This is new since I last walked the event in 2019.


Fortunately, no flooding at the moment.


The second checkpoint where I stocked up on jelly babies.


And flapjack. I also remembered there’s a substantial hill after this, something that I considered sub-optimal to say the least.


We reached the top and were treated to some more fine views across the moors.


Before we knew it, we had reached the next checkpoint which was operated by the formidable East Yorkshire LDWA.


We also had some rain for around fifteen minutes, which I rather enjoyed as it cooled matters down somewhat and it didn’t look like it would settle in for long.


Simon and I marched off through the trees and somewhere around here the short and long routes rejoined. Richard, who was walking nine miles less, seemed to be making good progress as I could see his location on Friend Finder. It was evident at this point that unless he walked very slowly, we wouldn’t catch him up.


There was some debate here about which way to go across the moors, but between us and despite me, we found the way to go.


There were now limited other entrants in view.


We safely reached the third checkpoint and it reminded me that last time I reached here in 2019 it was a hot day and I was delighted to restock on water. This is the campsite checkpoint and the more substantial along the route in terms of food and drink.


I was pleased that there was plenty of cheese for me to work my way through.


As well as jaffa cakes, sandwiches and more jelly babies. Could I just mention that this event costs just £15 to enter and I feel that I get my money’s worth just from the food and drink which is provided. For those on the long route, there was a checkpoint on average every 3.8 miles or so.


A small river crossing and I took great care here to prevent slipping in. I mentioned to Simon that I couldn’t see any evidence of Richard falling in, so we were confident that he had been safely getting himself around.


There was a stretch where it had been hot and a little unpleasant, but soon enough we were back by the coast. Then something exciting happened, I realised Richard was just 35 minutes ahead of us and there was potential that we could catch him. Simon and I discussed matters and the race was definitely on.


There’s just one blurry photo of a railway bridge as we had just over two miles along a former railway line into Robin Hood’s Bay. There are no more photos as Simon and I decided to up the pace to well over four miles an hour, plus just a little running, to try and catch Richard up. We saw the distance falling, 25 minutes, 20 minutes, 15 minutes, 10 minutes and we wondered whether we could even dream of overtaking him. It’s not a race of course, but it is under circumstances such as this.


Unfortunately, despite even more running, we just ran out of distance to catch Richard up. It transpired that he come in just three minutes before us, a gap which haunted Simon and I as we could have caught him. We sat and talked about our events for an hour or so, whilst I gorged on beef stew, a dessert of rice pudding and then more Yum Yums and cakes. The event had been impeccably run, Yorkshire Coast once again did themselves proud.

I won’t upload the photo (although it’s available on request of course!), but we discovered when we got back that Richard had been on one hell of an adventure. He had run out of energy after six miles and then whilst using his pole to navigate a route through the moors he snapped it and then slid straight into a bog. Up to his waist in the bog, he freed himself using his elbows and then soon enough the sweepers supporting the event found him trudging along in a dazed state. Worried he might jump in another bog, they then walked him to the end of the event, waiting patiently whilst he stood at the checkpoints charging himself back up on food and drink.


Next year, Simon and I are going for 26 miles in under 8 hours as we can’t let Richard get in before us, even though he was only walking 17 miles. I had a marvellous time and I didn’t want this event to come to an end, definitely one of my favourite challenge event from all those that I’ve walked. I was also honoured to be at an event where a muddy and wet entrant was walked around nearly the entire event by sweepers, I’ve never heard of that before. Congratulations to Richard for finishing in such trying circumstances! And also of course thanks to Simon, Jane and Hayley for walking with me, especially Simon for be willing to run bits towards the end as we rushed to catch up with Richard.