The Lyke Wake Walk, it may be recalled, stretches for 42 long and lugubrious miles across the North Yorkshire moors and was originally the route of the coffin carriers.

It seems almost appropriate that the column’s annual excursion to the Feversham Cricket League should cross its path, for the fabled Feversham seems also to be on its last legs.

Just three teams remain, only two games played before an extraordinary meeting last Thursday decided to struggle on to the end of the season. Teams – those which can be raised – will now play just four league games, not six, before a further meeting on September 21 decides if yet another grass roots cricket league is forever to draw stumps.

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Charles Allenby, the most tenacious of league secretaries, is no longer optimistic.

The following evening, last Friday, High Farndale were due to play Spout House, already winner and runner-up – whatever the order – of any competition to find the country’s most improbable cricket ground.

The calendar says July 1, the weather’s more November 1, suitably funereal.

Both bairns join the pilgrimage. The younger son has finished a BBC night shift at 6 30am, caught the seven o’clock train from Kings Cross, managed not a wink of sleep but at 10 30 is still on the Esk Valley line from Middlesbrough to Castleton Moor.

Such is the Lorelei lure of the Feversham.

In Castleton village we stop for a coffee at the Old Chapel Tea Room and fall earnestly to perusing the schedule for Danby Show, to be held on August 16.

It’s a wonderful publication, a rich essence of rural life, the 84-strong committee ranged alphabetically from Mr and Mrs Arnold to Mesdames Zahlan and Zaitschenke and the classes from ponies to painting, cakes to cavies, jams to rams.

There are 42 – FORTY-TWO! – classes for rabbits, 11 for ferrets – no angoras allowed. Entry is 40p, first prize £3.

What may be said about Yorkshire folk, at Danby Show they clearly aren’t in it for the money.

Walking weather worsens, though the elder lad insists it’s getting better. His brother, as would his paternal grandmother have done, accuses him of talking like a ha’penny book.

In the hamlet of Westerdale, where the village cricket team had dismissed Hutton Rudby for four earlier in the season, we’re disappointed to find the church locked and to be a day early for Silver Surfers at the village hall.

There’s also to be a competition for the best clay sheep, possibly the only category on earth that’s not covered by Danby Show.

Family conversation takes a familiar turn: favourite Coronation Street character – Fred Elliott wins comfortably– favourite Wetherspoons (all in London), favourite all-time cricketer (“and you can’t say Marcus Trescothick”.)

Moors as inadvisable as they are invisible, we stick to a narrow road which (so far as may be seen) is fair strewn with dead rabbits. The boys wonder if there’s a class for them at Danby Show.

There’s also an extraordinary amount of litter. The little un, they very model of a 21st century citizen, collects it as he goes along.

Visibility’s down to about 50 yards, rain persisting. High above Westerdale they stop, suppose the moorland road to be the centre circle and open debate over whether the match should be postponed.

They can’t see the linesmen: game off. Such niceties, of course, have no application in the Feversham Cricket League.

The remote Lion Inn at Blakey, said to have been opened by the Order of Crouched Friars in 1553, is just a couple of miles from High Farndale’s vertiginous ground.

We’ve had a bet on whether the fire will be blazing. “It would have been,” says the barman, “but there’s a problem with the fan.”

In the pub we meet Brian Levison, an agreeable chap whose book Remarkable Cricket Grounds (Pavilion, £25) was shortlisted in its category in this year’s Sports Book awards and who has now been commissioned to write another on the joys of the village game.

At lunchtime he’d been across to Spout House – “very impressed with the clothes line inside the boundary” reports Charles Allenby – and the following day will be in Co Durham, at Raby.

Brian’s with his partner, Jill, a playwright who left America 43 years ago. One of the bairns asks her why.

“Richard Nixon,” says Jill, simply, “but he was a prince compared to the one we have now.”

Brian reckons that village cricket’s in better shape than many suppose – “still some wonderful workers around” – but is clearly one of life’s optimists.

He gazes from the little pub window to the great grey beyond. “If you can’t play in this you can’t play in anything,” he says.

High Farndale play in the hamlet of Church Houses, bottom of a very steep hill. The notice board announces that the Fuchs Lubricant White Rose Classic will also be passing that way soon.

The mist’s lifted, the rain hasn’t, the wicket a good yomp lower than the boundary. Someone essays an inspection. “A trifle wet, about three inches o’ watter,” he reports.

“Green,” someone translates. “Good for Farndale, though.”

There’s talk of two overs a side and then the pub. Charles, a man who remembers the line about what’s a little wet to a water rat, suggests they make it ten.

On these occasions a Charles Allenby suggestion is akin to a three-line whip, though some might suppose it self-flagellation.

He’s recalling better days with David Westhead, the league chairman. The league, they reckon, was formed about 1924. “When they had meetings at the Crown in Helmsley you had to get there early or not get a seat,” says David.

Brian Levison has somewhat optimistically brought a rug, wonders where the teams change. A Farndale player points to a hut which might hardly have held half a dozen hens before breaching the Poultry (Overpopulation) Act of eighteen-hundred-and-long-gone.

“In there, of course,” he says.

The game’s played in great good spirit, the sporting equivalent of singing in the rain, the sheep shift – well – sheepishly. High Farndale bat first, have two men run out in the first three balls, reach 34-8 with Dave Medd claiming five wickets without conceding a run.

“I wouldn’t care, but I’m not a really a bowler,” he says.

“You’re not really a cricketer,” says a team mate. The scoreboard tins show 723 and may be supposed at fault.

Andy Fawbert, the Farndale No 9, has gone to the wicket in tweeds and deer stalker hat, paused for a photograph, resembles a cross between Catweazle and Sherlock Holmes, warns that he might be timed out and is joined at 10 by the press-ganged elder bairn who’s delighted with four not out. His brother, jack, doesn’t get a knock.

Accompanied by much ribaldry, Spout lose just one wicket – caught and bowled by Nathan Blacklock – on the way to chip sandwiches in the Feversham Arms.

“It’s the most fun I’ve ever had on a cricket field,” someone says as he heads uphill to the pub – and if that’s to be the Feversham’s epitaph then, like the league, it would be perfect.