Sustrans, the charity dedicated to providing high quality cycle routes throughout Britain, provides a route map and accommodation guide, and have contributed to the improvement of some sections.
We took a very slobbish four and a half days for the trip, making it a holiday, rather than a test of endurance. Tour de France guys would do it in a day. Many fit mortals make it in two or three.
From Whitehaven, our route was Cleator Moor, Kirkland, Lamplugh, Loweswater, Lorton, on surfaced track and minor roads. The railway track out of Whitehaven was particularly pleasant. Overall, a fairly easy start.
We took the alternative railway track route out of Keswick, which is very pleasant, but the steps down to it are horrific. Despite having road bikes, we also opted for the Coach Road alternative route over the hills. The ascent is very severe on a poor rocky surface (we can't claim that we weren't warned) and involved at least fifty percent walking. However, the views of Blencathra were stunning.
Route was Penrith, Langwathby, Little Salkeld, Renwick, on minor roads. Good view of ridiculous hill to be climbed next morning.
The up-down road into Renwick (not on C2C route) was a severe shock late in the day.
Although the hardest day in terms of climbing, this is definitely the most fun - very scenic and with several excellent descents.
After an initial dodgy track up final hill (surfaced alternative exists, but it's awful, I understand), we started on the railway track which leads all the way to Sunderland. Everyone told us it was easy ... but they probably had lightly loaded mountain bikes. On laden road bikes, it was horrendous. By Consett, we had one very poorly bike and four severely pissed off riders. And it was getting late.
Two (including the dodgy bike) continued to Sunderland by road; the bike finally disintegrated 3 miles out, leaving a longish walk in the rain. I and one other made for Teesside, via Durham and Sedgefield. This was quite a long ride, but actually rather fun and it took only two and a half hours for 35 miles.
This modern house was very comfortable and our hostess was very friendly. The pub in Low Lorton was fine, but busy, due to nearby campsite - advise booking ahead (we didn't, but just squeezed in).
A very pretty farmhouse in a lovely and unusual village. Again, our
hostess was very helpful, even giving us a lift to the pub.
Rather out of the way (a mile or two the wrong side of Renwick village) and at the top of a hill, but really gorgeous farmhouse and friendly hosts.
Well situated pub, perhaps a tad scruffy, but comfortable all the same. Best food of the holiday and terrific value; we ate about half a healthy cow (in the form of superb steak), plus starter and trimmings, for little over a tenner per head. Breakfast equally was large and delicious. Recommended, but be gentle with the rather stressed landlord!
Don't be confused by the entry in the B&B Guide. In a pub, "Pool" is a game with cues and pockets, not something you can swim in. The penny only dropped for me just in time to avoid acute embarrassment!