Coast to Coast (C2C) – Route guide

Coast to Coast C2C Sea to SeaRoute Guide

The 140 mile Coast to Coast route, also known as C2C or Sea to Sea, runs from Whitehaven to Tynemouth with alternative start and finish points at Workington and Sunderland. The route can be cycled over 3 days if you are the moderately fit. If you are comfortable riding at least 30 miles without stopping you should be fine, but it is worth doing some training if you haven’t cycled a long distance route before.

The Coast to Coast is a beautiful route, which uses a mix of quiet roads and traffic-free routes. It guides you through the Lake District and then over the Pennines so there are some challenging climbs and rewarding descents. There are currently some diversions in the Lake District due to the floods last December but just follow the signs on the ground.

Skinny road tyres are best avoided due to the gravel tracks in places, a hybrid, cyclocross or sturdy tourer would be best suited. If you do want to ride Coast to Coast on a lightweight racing bike then there are alternative on-road options, but you’ll be missing out on some fantastic routes.

The following itinerary is based over a long weekend with a relaxed average speed of 10mph, which should be comfortably pace for most people with a basic level of fitness. Download the route as a gpx file

Thursday:

Get to Whitehaven

The 16:15 train from Birmingham arrives in Whitehaven at 20:25. If travelling from London you can get the London Euston service departing at 15:30 which arrives in Whitehaven at 20:25. For both of these services you will need to book a space for your bike in advance, there is no additional fee for this but it must be done at least 24 hours in advance. The services from both Birmingham and London change at Carlisle. Carlisle to Whitehaven is a local service so bikes cannot be booked in advance. The official policy is only two bikes permitted per train, however off-peak they tend to be more flexible, especially if you ask nicely.

Friday:

Whitehaven – Keswick – Penrith (53 miles)

The morning is the toughest part of the day as you ascend in to the Lake District from sea level.

Keswick offers a large selection of pubs and cafes for lunch.

The afternoon route undulates mainly on quiet roads, until you reach the eastern edge of the Lake District at Penrith.

AM

From Whitehaven (9:30am)
Destination Keswick (12:30pm)
Distance 31m
Est. time 3 hours
NCN Routes 71

PM

From Keswick (2pm)
Destination Penrith (4pm)
Distance 20m
Est. time 2 hours
NCN Routes 71

Saturday:

Penrith – Alston – Rookhope (43 miles)

A fairly gentle start to the morning warms you up for a reallylong but gradual climb to the top of Hartside.

For lunch you can take a diversion from the main route to Alston as it has a wider selection of choices. This means coming off route 7 at Leadgate  and taking Route 68 for 2 miles. If the extra 4 miles sounds too much then there’s the imaginably named Hartside Top Café popular with motorcyclists at the top of Hartside (approx. 16m from Penrith, 2 hours).

After lunch there’s a really tough climb from Garrigill to Nenthead before undulating atop the Pennines to Rookhope.

AM

From Penrith (9:30am)
Destination Alston (12:00pm)
Distance 22m
Est. time 2 ½ hours
NCN Routes 7, 68

PM

From Alston (2:00pm)
Destination Rookhope(4:30pm)
Distance 21m
Est. time 2 ½ hours
NCN Routes 68, 7

Sunday:

Rookhope – Winlaton Mill – Tynemouth (44 miles)

A welcome rest for your legs as its all downhill in the morning, riding out of the North Pennines mainly on traffic-free routes.

The Red Kite at Winlaton Mill makes an ideal spot for lunch before entering the hustle of the city.

The afternoon is completely flat as you join ride along the River Tyne under the bridges of Newcastle, before triumphantly reaching the finish line at Tynemouth. Great chip shops await for well deserved dinner.

AM

From Rookhope (9:30am)
Destination Winlaton Mill (11:45am)
Distance 26m
Est. time 2 ¼ hours
NCN Routes 7, 14

PM

From Winlaton Mill (2pm)
Destination Tynemouth (3:45pm)
Distance 18m
Est. time 1 ¾ hours
NCN Routes 14, 72

Getting back

Newcastle Station (11 miles)

Bikes are not permitted on the Metro, so you’ll have to cycle 11 miles back to Newcastle station. Trains from Newcastle are fairly frequent even on a Sunday. The last train to Birmingham and London leave at 19:40 and 20:33 respectably. Remember you will need to book your bike onto the train in advance.

From Tynemouth
Destination Newcastle Station
Distance 11m
Est. time 1 hour
NCN Routes 72

Route accommodation

A wide selection of accommodation mapped against Coast to Coast cycle route can be found on our main website

What to bring?

Checkout our essential cycling kit guide for ideas on what to bring.

image source: joncrel flickr

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Posted in Long Distance Rides