The UK’s most popular challenge cycle route, the C2C is often thought to stand for ‘Coast to Coast’, but the name is actually short for ‘Sea to Sea’. The iconic route travels 137 miles between the Irish Sea and the North Sea, from Cumbria to Tyneside, passing through the northern Lake District before climbing the Pennines and descending to the railway paths of County Durham.Sustrans
Day 1 (The Journey Begins)
Up early this morning 06:30 washed, dressed and oot the house for 07:00 heading to Newcastle, made it to the station with time to spare got my ticket sorted a much needed coffee then headed to the platform.
The station was fairly quiet so managed to get on the train with no hassle and started the journey to Carlisle. Arrived at Carlisle on time and after a slight faff searching for platform 2 finally found it and got on the train without any problems… cool beans, next stop Whitehaven 👍
Dipped my back wheel as per tradition, however slipped and nearly ended up in the ogin up to my ankles 🙄 but managed to save the embarrassment especially with loads of people walking past.
Headed off around 13:00 full of beans, the first section went by quick on fairly flat paths passing local artwork on the way.
Pretty cool markers along the path so I could tick them off as I went.
All the while the imposing hills of the Lake District loomed in the background.
Still I was making good progress and the marker signs where getting fewer and fewer.
Until I saw the marker that said Sunderland 120 miles 🙁
After Kirkland the hills started and it was lovely cycling along the lakes in the sunshine.
Stopped at Keswick hoping to get something to eat, but the place was absolutely heavin and I became a bit concerned leaving the bike unattended with everyone milling aboot. Found a quiet-ish pub down one of the side streets so took my chance with the bike, but couldn’t really see it well from where I was sitting so just opted for a quick cider then headed off… maybe I would get lucky further on!!
The route continued on and the light started to fade I hadn’t come across anywhere with food available… until in the distance I spotted an oasis 🏖 The Sportmans Inn so rolled in around 20:30 found out they stopped serving at 21:00… Winner 👍 Ordered myself a burger ‘n’ chips a large Pepsi then sat down to chill and phone Ashleigh Bubbles. By the time I’d left the pub it was proper dark a quick look on google maps showed a possible location in the corner of a field under cover of trees so headed out into the night to investigate, the country lanes were pitch black even with the lights on the bike but found a spot sheltered from the road and it looked like it had not been used for farming for ages (overgrown grass).
Managed to lift my heavy bike over the barbed wire fence and into the field then clambered over myself and started setting up my home for the night in the dark… easier said than done, but I eventually finished all the while ducking down whenever I heard a car drive past. Got into the tent and reasonably comfortable, however I could hear noises from the other field sounded like kids screaming and the cars still kept driving past well into the night!!
Text Home to let them know I was safe and settled down and tried to get a few hours kip before morning.
End of day 1
Day 2 (The Journey Ends)
Woke up really, really early this morning 03:30 so decided to get up after a rubbish sleep felt like I’d hardly slept at all what with all the cars passing by until late. It wasn’t until I’d packed everything away and headed off in the dark that I realised I’d wild camped right next to a caravanning club site 🙄 that would explain all the cars passing by!! Passed the now sleepy caravan site and the sleepy village of Greystoke en route to Penrith and hopefully a full English breakfast 😋
With the sun starting to appear and warm things up I could see Penrith in the distance.
However the route skirted around the town and considering it was still early decided to keep on going and see where I’d end up later in the morning so carried on through Langwathby.
Knowing that the formidable Hartside Pass was looming in the not so distant future and the sun not yet at full strength I decided to tackle the challenge before the mornings end.
The road was long and winding but with perseverance I plodded on finally reaching the top only to find that the cafe had burnt down and there wasn’t really very much there, so took the token picture and checked mileage… over halfway done 👍
On the plus side the downhill from Hartside was brilliant on nice smooth roads it was still early so thought that Alston might be a good shout for some warm food… however the route didn’t pass through Alston and instead I ended up in the lovely old quaint village of Garrigill which as luck would have it had a local post office/everything shop. The shop was a classic old English village shop with uneven stone flagged floor and very basic supplies, but the shopkeeper was a really friendly guy who just wanted to chat all day. Bought some water and a coke and chilled on a bench in the village green enjoying the peaceful setting and sunshine.
Left Garrigill heading for Nenthead and fingers crossed a coffee stop.
Finally after what seemed like forever pushing the bike then stopping then pushing I finally hit the top and cooled down on the decent into Nenthead. The local community shop was open and fully stocked so bought food, snacks and coffee and found myself a quiet bench to rest on.
The people of Nenthead seemed really friendly stopping to chat about the weather and where I’d cycled from today. Enjoyed my coffee and rest and having put it off long enough got back on the bike to tackle the next hills.
Now firmly in the North Pennines the hills came thick and fast until I finally reached the village of Allenheads a lovely looking village with some fantastic houses and a really decent looking pub… tempted🍺
Allenheads had a nasty hill leaving the village but once at the top the downhill seemed to go on and on all the way into Rookhope.
Knowing the next section well having rode it loads of times before I knew that the next climb up to Bolt’s Law was the last big climb of the route and once at Parkhead station the rest of the route was mainly downhill to sea level… so decided to go for it seeing as it was only just after 15:00 the race was on to reach the coast before the sunset.
With light fading and energy dwindling I pushed on… finally reaching the end point just after 19:00 🥵
All in all a fantastic route through some lovely areas of the UK and villages that you would never ordinarily go to while experiencing the wonders of the Lake District and the wildness of the North Pennines.
For details check out the ride on komoot.