Get five guys together and an idea like, “Why don’t we do the Coast to Coast (C2C) on bikes?” might just come up. Three of us had minimal experience and didn’t cycle very often whilst the other two used their bikes regularly – so there was a mixture of responses to the idea! We would have to plan an appropriate route and also prepare our bodies for the ride. The route is quite easily achievable over 3 days with panniers, in 2 days with lightweight riding and in 1 day for the very fit. We planned to take all our own gear and decided a 3-day trip would be best. This is how we did it late one September and hopefully reading this can help you plan your own C2C bike trip.
One of the big attractions of the coast to coast cycle route is that it takes you through some of the best scenery in the UK – the Lake District, the Yorkshire Moors and the Pennines. The scenery is stunning and travelling by bike allows the scenery and landscape to be enjoyed at the perfect pace.
Day One – Whitehaven to Keswick
We didn’t have the time to take a day on the train travelling back across to pick up our car, so when we arrived in Whitehaven we left our car at Haven Cycles. They agreed to drive our car over to Tynemouth on the day we arrived and leave it there for us. We jumped onto our bikes and headed for the sea so we could dip our wheels into the Irish Sea – t
The first day of cycling took us from Whitehaven to Keswick. We started with ten miles of
Our bodies seemed to suffer most on the first day and it was difficult getting back on our bikes at the start of day 2, but it was amazing how quickly the aches faded once en route.
Day Two – Keswick to Parkhead Station
It’s uphill out of Penrith and then long, peaceful lanes take you to the foot of the Yorkshire Moors and the climb up Hartside, the longest climb of the whole route. It was nice to get this one done in the morning; there is a welcoming cafe at the summit with a roaring fire if needed. Now what goes up must come down and the ride downhill through the glorious dales was really enjoyable after the hard work of the ascent.
We headed to Allenheads through the undulating landscape and stopped at the cosy Hemmel Cafe for lunch. We had decided to end our day with all the major climbing finished. This meant that we would not stop in Stanhope but took the steep climb up to the top of Parkhead Station where we stayed the night. It was a wonderful feeling to arrive here in this very remote place with our legs burning again and all of us ready for a good rest. FYI, we had minimal mobile signal here and there was no wifi – walk 100 yards east for mobile signal.
Day Three – Parkhead Station to Tynemouth
We woke to a gloriously clear, fresh morning with wonderful panoramic views and started our descent from the Northern Pennines down to the North Sea. Most of today’s riding would be on paths – some tarmac, some gravel. Our legs were glad that there were no difficult climbs and our route was mostly downhill. Once down from the Pennines, our route followed the Derwent river, across the nine arches viaduct and
We were very glad that we had arranged for our car to be waiting for us in the Tynemouth coastal car park with a day’s parking paid for. It wasn’t long before we had loaded our bikes and were on our way home.
Suggestions and tips to planning your C2C trip
- How long to take. Plan the route/timing that suits your fitness and cycling experience. C2C in one day is feasible for proficient road bikers who are comfortable with 100 non-stop, miles with hills. This would mean 12+ hours of cycling at an average 12-15mph. Why not enjoy the trip by allowing time to stop along the way to enjoy the scenery?
- When? The summer months have the best weather but are busier. June/September are quieter but potentially have more variable weather. Obviously, it’s best to try and avoid bad weather.
- There are lots of hills. Hartside is the highest, but there are many others which will test you and your machinery. Disk brakes may even start to melt on some of the descents!
- Nutrition needs to be carefully planned. You need to have a good build-up of fluid levels before the trip as well as fuel and fluids along the way. There are plenty of opportunities to re-fill bottles.
- The weather is a very important factor. We had bright sunshine and had to manage our hydration carefully. It was still cold higher up and of course, we got wet a few times! The weather in the mountains and on the moors can be very changeable. It makes sense to cycle from the west coast to the east as the prevailing wind in the UK is usually westerly. However, this may not be the case when you cycle the route.
- Choose your riding companions carefully so that you are of similar ability. This can make a huge difference to how much you enjoy your trip. If you’re having to wait too often for other riders or feeling pressured to ride faster than you’re comfortable with, can cause prob
- Choose your route to suit your bike. There are a number of off-road options that you may want to take to keep away from the tarmac. Bear in mind that these might be very difficult in poor weather. There are large sections of cycleway that are suitable for road bikes.
Links to maps and routes
- Whitehaven to Sunderland Route cycle/travel
- Whitehaven to Tynemouth Route c2c guide beds4cyclists
- All six Sustrans routes 2012 article