C2C (Sea to Sea) Cycling 

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Route Information

The C2C is a cycle route across the North of England. It takes in the Lake District and the Pennine hills - some of the most beautiful scenery in the country. It mostly uses minor roads, but several sections are on traffic-free and hill-free railway paths. There is a small amount of main road and the route also passes through Keswick and Penrith town centres. Some tougher off-road sections are available, but may be avoided, by surfaced detours.

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.

Sunday

Whitehaven-Lorton. 20 miles. 300 metres ascent.

After extensive investigation, a Minibus proved the most practical means of getting four people and four bikes from Teesside to Whitehaven. The environmentally sounder train service is rather slow and starts late in the day. Using the 'bus we were able to arrive in Whitehaven at 12.30pm.

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.

Monday

Lorton-Greystoke. 28 miles. 600 metres ascent.

Normal C2C route is Whinlatter, Keswick, Threlkeld, Troutbeck, on minor roads and tracks. The Whinlatter pass was a severe shock, first thing in the morning, although it did not actually take terribly long.

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.

Tuesday

Greystoke-Renwick. 22 miles. 450 metres ascent.

Bikes weren't looking too clever after the Coach Road, but a little adjustment seemed to fix it.

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.

Wednesday

Renwick-Rookhope. 28 miles. 1100 metres ascent.

By starting in Renwick, much of Hartside hill is climbed on minor roads, rather than the A686. This was quieter, but very steep. The major road to the summit is no problem after that.
We then took the A686 all the way to Alston (a minor diversion from the C2C), which was superb fun - gentle downhill for miles. We then rode to Nenthead, where we had been promised the worst ascent of the route. In fact, it was surprisingly OK; everyone made it to the top without stopping. Then it was on to Allenheads and Rookhope on mostly minor roads. The Highest point on route was towards end of this day.

Although the hardest day in terms of climbing, this is definitely the most fun - very scenic and with several excellent descents.

Thursday

Rookhope-Sunderland. 40 miles. 250 metres ascent.

Oh, it was all going so well, and then ...

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.

Accommodation

All B&B's were chosen from the C2C Accommodation Guide and booked for 2x2 rooms, bed & breakfast.

Sunday

Mrs C. Edmunds, Meadow Bank, High Lorton, Cockermouth, Cumbria CA13 9UG 01900 85315. £16 p.p. (£15 deposit).

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).

Monday

Mrs Jean Ashburner. Lattendales Farm, Greystoke, Penrith, Cumbria CA11 0UA 017684 83474. £15 p.p. (no deposit).

A very pretty farmhouse in a lovely and unusual village. Again, our hostess was very helpful, even giving us a lift to the pub.
 

Tuesday

Miss P. J. Bonnick. Scalehouse Farm, Scalehouses, Renwick, Penrith, Cumbria CA10 1JY 01768 896493. £14 p.p. (£10 deposit).

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.

Wednesday

The Rookhope Inn, Rookhope, Weardale, Durham DL13 2BG 01388 517215. £17 p.p. (£20 deposit).

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!

Cost Summary (per person)

Minibus Stockton->Whitehaven  £30 
Lorton  £16 
Greystoke  £15 
Renwick  £14 
Rookhope  £17 
Total  £92 

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