Tag Archives: C2C

G2C2C Day 6: Rookhope to Tynemouth (then home)

Distance cycled to Tynemouth 43.2 miles / 69.5 km
Distance cycled from Tynemouth to home 12.4 miles / 20 km
Cumulative distance cycled 298.2 miles / 479.9 km
Elevation (daily total) 2050 feet / 625 m
Total cycling time 5h
Total time (including breaks) 6h 20
Average speed 11.1 mph / 17.9 kmph
Weather conditions Sunny

After a solid 9 hours sleep we departed for the final day of riding from Rookhope. The official route is often closed during shooting season and an on-road alternative must be taken. Fortunately for us, there is no shooting on a Sunday and so after a hard 1 mile climb up a rocky track (with tired legs and cold muscles) we emerged onto beautiful moorland with just the occasional grouse cackle to break the silence and the morning’s mist swirling in the valley below.

Moorland track above RookhopeDeserted moorland track above Rookhope

The four miles of moorland path ended at Parkhead Station from where we blasted downhill along the Waskerley Way path and it wasn’t long before we arrived at the old smelt wagon at Lydgett’s Junction in Consett and started along paths well known to us from our training rides. The Derwent Valley path has some great downhills through forest and over viaducts before emerging on the south side of the River Tyne.

Derwent Valley pathZooming along the Derwent Valley

We’d arranged to meet family in Tynemouth for celebratory fish and chips so by the time we reached Newcastle, lunch was overdue and despite our best efforts at refueling with biscuits and jelly babies (pro-tip, thanks Jo!) we were getting tired and the last few miles were a bit of a struggle. We had a real sense of achievement as we crested the cliff near Tynemouth Priory before descending to the beach for the obligatory photo with the back wheel in the sea.

C2C - the end!

G2C2C Day 5: Penrith to Rookhope

Distance cycled 40.1 miles / 64.5 km
Cumulative distance cycled 242.6 miles / 390.4 km
Elevation (daily total) 4922 feet / 1500 m
Total cycling time 4h 10min
Total time (including breaks) 7h 25min
Average speed 9.7 mph / 15.6 kmph
Weather conditions Perfect for hills – overcast and little to no wind
Punctures One

If the word of Day 2 was headwind, then the word of today was hillclimb – anyone we’ve spoken to that has either done the C2C or knows the route mentions the 4mile climb up Hartside.

The start from Penrith was a series of small but challenging uphills of varying gradients which nicely warmed the legs, but our heads were full of thoughts of the Hartside climb to come, and a little under 2 hours in we’d started.. 40 odd minutes later we were sitting at the infamous Hartside Cafe wondering what all the fuss was about! I’m not saying Hartside wasn’t tough, but we agreed that Whinlatter Pass the previous day was tougher.

Made it!

After a hot chocolate and slice of cake at the cafe, we set off towards Rookhope. The smooth declining road on the other side of the climb restored our average speed and with spectacular scenery was infinitely more enjoyable than the way up.

But what goes down must come up.

Obviously we’d looked at the profile of the day’s ride, but all eyes were on Hartside with just a cursory mention of the subsequent peaks.. and with our guards lowered the route delivered punishing steep hill after punishing steep hill. We’re talking easiest gear and out of the saddle steep. Like a grownup version of the roller coaster start out of Brampton on day 2, we climbed and then dropped through spectacular scenery.

Scenery entering Northumberland on C2C

Stopping to take a picture after a crest and after we’d just crossed into Northumberland, I heard a babbling brook on one side and a curious popping noise coming from my back wheel. I looked down to find the seal of my rear tyre valve blowing bubbles! Over 200 miles and we have our first puncture..

Andrew's impromptu bike workshop on the side of the road.  As we'd brought spare inner tubes we just swapped it out rather than finding and patching the hole

Andrew’s impromptu bike workshop on the side of the road. As we’d brought spare inner tubes we just swapped it out rather than finding and patching the hole

Thankfully we ended the day on a nice 5mile downhill stretch past abandoned mines and mills into Rookhope, where we’ll be staying for the night in a cartoon-decorated caravan!

Our cartoon caravan home in Rookhope!

Our cartoon caravan home in Rookhope!

G2C2C Day 4: Whitehaven to Penrith

Distance cycled 59.4 miles / 95.6 km
Cumulative distance cycled 202.5 miles / 325.9 km
Elevation (daily total) 5355 feet / 1632 m
Total cycling time 6h 44min
Total time (including breaks) 10h
Average speed 8.8 mph / 14.2 kmph
Weather conditions Mostly cloudy with the sun breaking through occasionally, and no wind!

C2C Start in WhitehavenAt the C2C start sculpture in Whitehaven harbour

Phew, that was a tough day. The first section of the C2C out of Whitehaven is a really nice surfaced railway path rising slowly up into the Lake District, this is followed by undulating country roads past Ennerdale Water, around Loweswater, and across the top of Crummock Water. So far, so good, and great views as well.

LoweswaterView across Loweswater from the C2C path

Next was the day’s first serious climb up to Whinlatter Pass. The first part was steep but on road and then forest trail and we reached the top with just a couple of rest stops and no walking so were feeling pretty good about it, then it was a fun descent through the forest towards Keswick. After Keswick we deviated slightly from the standard path up another steep climb to Castlerigg Stone Circle.

Castlerigg Stone CircleThe standing stones at Castlerigg Stone Circle have been in place for 4,500 years. They are situated on a natural plateau surrounded on all sides by mountains

Andrew had twisted my arm to continue on the alternative route, from this point it’s called the Old Coach Road section. On our map it is marked as suitable for “experienced mountain bikers only” but he insisted it would be fine. At first it was, but the path soon got too steep and covered in loose rock and gravel for us to ride up (Andrew fell over three times before he relented – he’s fine) and we had to walk most of the way to the top. Once it had levelled out we could ride OK and the views were superb, but it really slowed us down and tired us out.

Old Coach RoadThe rutted gravelly path of the Old Coach Road section, and the amazing views

It seemed like an awfully long way down to Penrith but we made it and hopefully not too worse for wear. A shorter distance tomorrow but lots of hills.

Preparing for a long distance cycle ride

Since returning to the UK, we’ve re-settled in North-East England and have taken up cycling as a way to improve our fitness and with an aim to resurrect a years old plan of completing the Coast-to-Coast (C2C) cycle route. As is fairly typical for us our ambitions swelled (we did initially only plan on travelling for one year after all) and the C2C changed into the G2C2C (Gateshead-to-Coast-to-Coast), a loop from our home in Gateshead along the Hadrian’s Cycleway to Whitehaven and returning along the C2C path.

hcw-mapHadrian’s Cycleway route [image source: Cycle-Routes.org]

c2c_imagemapWe’ll be tackling the blue line route from Whitehaven to Tynemouth [image source: C2C Guide]


Obviously before beginning such a venture a certain amount of kit is required, not least a bicycle! Cycling can be an expensive hobby especially if, like Andrew, you’re easily tempted by shiny gadgets and gizmos, but we’ve managed to restrain ourselves pretty well and have gradually accumulated bits and pieces as the need arose, finding that many items can be sourced cheaply, second hand or otherwise, through eBay or Gumtree.

Bikes on Lanchester Railway PathOur bikes propped against a bench beside the Lanchester Railway Path between Durham and Consett

This is what we would deem essential for training:

  • Bicycle – We opted for hybrid style bikes which are a good compromise between lightweight road bikes with very thin tyres and the chunky tyres and suspension of a mountain bike, perfect for riding a combination of trails and roads.
  • Helmet – I don’t really need to explain this one do I? This video on cycle helmets made by the Manitoba Government made us smile!
  • Water bottle – ideally with a cage attached to the bicycle’s frame.
  • Pump and puncture repair kit – fortunately we haven’t needed these too often whilst we’ve done our training (we’ve had just two punctures) but you really don’t want to be stuck on a remote trail with a flat tyre and no way of fixing it.
  • Padded leggings or shorts and gloves – we got cheap versions as we weren’t sure how much difference they would make. The answer is A LOT! Bottoms and hands unaccustomed to long bike rides will start to feel sore anyway and a little padding to keep that at bay for as long as possible was much appreciated. On a more positive note, I’ve noticed that the more training we do the longer it is before my bottom starts to ache, not that I’ll be ditching my padded leggings any time soon!

PunctureThe only puncture (so far…) that we’ve had to repair on the road

Nice to have bits of kit include:

  • Pannier rack and bags – it’s possible to make do with a small rucksack to carry packed lunch, snacks and waterproof jackets for training rides but it’s more comfortable if they’re in a bag attached to the bike rather than on your back. Obviously for the actual ride panniers will be necessary for our (hopefully) small amount of luggage.
  • Cycling computer – it’s good to be able to log miles while you’re training to track your progress. We’ve used the free Strava app on Andrew’s iPhone.


Of course once we had our bikes the next step was to get some miles under our tyres. It’s been helpful that we weren’t working for most of the summer and so could move our rides around to fit in with the best weather, and do longer rides during the week leaving us time to catch up with friends and family at the weekend. All told over 14 weeks of training we’ve covered almost 1500 miles. We started out from a fairly active lifestyle (i.e. lots of walking) but it was a long time since either of us had done any regular cardio training. We found that we were pretty quickly able to build up from 15-20 mile rides to about 40 miles and then gradually up to 70 miles within 10 weeks, doing 3-4 rides per week. In the final month we continued to build our stamina and found that we were getting faster without trying and I was pleased to notice that certain uphill sections also seemed to be getting easier as the weeks passed.

Gateshead cycle pathWe’ve found the paths on the National Cycle Network to be reasonably well signposted

We are incredibly lucky to have a veritable maze of paths close to our home meaning that we’ve been able to vary our routes easily without needing to do much riding on busy main roads. The Sustrans website has a useful map function and information on the National Cycle Network and it’s pretty easy to create routes in Strava too.

Cycle paths collageWe’ve found a wide range of cycle paths (clockwise from top left): clifftop path north of Sunderland; Jo and Andrew cycle the forest trail along the Derwent Walk; path through farmland north of Newcastle; country road in Northumberland

While the Hadrian’s Cycleway is reasonably flat, the C2C will be more challenging as it passes through the hilly Lake District and the northern Pennines. We’ve tried to prepare for this as best we can with some of the hills which are within range in Co Durham and Northumberland and also by regularly riding longer distances than our C2C days to ensure our overall fitness is high enough. Fingers crossed that will be enough!

Downhill from Ryal, NorthumberlandAlthough we know we need to train for hills, we were very glad to be heading downhill on this road!


Having kitted ourselves out and worked on our fitness, the final step was to plan the route and accommodation. There are lots of resources online to help with the decision on where to break the journey and Sustrans publish a map of the route options and a book describing each section which we found helpful for assessing distances and elevations. We decided on two days to cycle to Whitehaven along Hadrian’s Cycleway, a rest day in Whitehaven and then three days back with overnights in Penrith and Rookhope. Some exceedingly fit people do the whole C2C in one day with the record being under 8 hours for the 140 miles but we want to enjoy the journey as well as challenging our bodies and fully expect to be stopping to take photographs and enjoy the view, not just racing along with our heads down.

We’re hoping to do a short blog post each day with statistics of the day’s ride and a couple of photos (WiFi availability dependent) then we’ll summarise the trip once we get back.