The C2C Cycle Route
The Coast to Coast bike ride
By Jeremy Evans
Guidebook to the Coast to Coast (C2C) Sustrans cycle route. The 140 mile route from Whitehaven or Workington to Tynemouth or Sunderland is mostly on cycle paths, forest tracks and minor roads with off-road options and taster day rides described. The cycle-friendly route is suitable for all abilities, and is described over 5 days.
SeasonsApril through to October can be a wonderful time to ride the C2C, but spring or autumn can also provide gale-force winds and unseasonably low temperatures; summer is the best time for riding the C2C
CentresWhitehaven, Workington, Keswick, Langwathby, Nenthead, Consett, Sunderland, Tynemouth and places in between!
Difficultyaccessible to any cyclist, whether over 1 or 5 days; however fit you are, do some training beforehand to get the most enjoyment from the ride
Must SeeLake District and Pennine scenery; dramatic landscapes; interesting historical monuments, villages, towns and cities; great traffic-free cycle paths
The C2C cycle route first opened as a formal route in 1994. It is a cyclist’s version of Alfred Wainwright’s famous Coast to Coast Walk, but follows a shorter route with considerably fewer hills. The route was designed by Sustrans and is now the UK’s most popular long-distance cycle route.
The route in this guidebook is described from west to east, as this is often held to be the ‘best’ direction in which to cycle the C2C.
The C2C has two different start and finish points at both ends of the route – a choice between Whitehaven or Workington on the west coast and Tynemouth or Sunderland on the east coast.
The route can easily be completed in five days by those with a basic level of fitness. If you cycle further and faster, it’s possible to ride from sea to sea in four, three or two days.
Great care has been take to make the Coast to Coast as cycle friendly as possible. Approximately half of the route follows dedicated cycle paths or off-road tracks that are traffic free. Most of the other half follows quiet roads that are particularly well suited to cycling, allowing you to enjoy the ride with minimum stress or danger from traffic.
- route described in 5 stages from west to east with variant first and final legs
- 5 taster routes to give cyclists a flavour of the full C2C
- off-road, variant and link routes also included
Why do it?
Choosing your route
When to go
Getting there and getting back
Planning your itinerary
Specialist C2C companies
Where to stay
Choosing your bike
What to take
Food and drink
What to wear
Navigation and waymarking
Using this guide
Stage 1a Whitehaven to Keswick
Link route St Bees to the C2C
Stage 1b Workington to Keswick
Link route Whitehaven to Workington
Stage 2 Keswick to Langwathby
Stage 3 Langwathby to Nenthead
Stage 4 Nenthead to Consett
Stage 5a Consett to Sunderland
Stage 5b Consett to Tynemouth
Route 1 Lakeland Loop
Route 2 West Coast Loop
Route 3 Western C2C Loop
Route 4 The Old Coach Road
Route 5 Penrith to Carlisle
Appendix A Route summary table
Appendix B Suggested itineraries (4, 3 and 2 days)
Appendix C Useful contacts
Appendix D Riding the C2C from east to west
Appendix E Pre-ride bike medical
Appendix F Mending a puncture
Navigation and waymarking
The C2C follows sections of Sustrans’ national cycle network (NCN) that spans the UK (see www.sustrans.org.uk for further information). The C2C uses parts of different ‘national routes’ that link many of the UK’s major towns and cities (National Route 71 covers the western area of the C2C; National Route 7 covers the central area and extends to Sunderland (also linking to Carlisle); National Route 14 links Consett to Gatehead and South Shields; National Route 72 provides a route to Tynemouth via Newcastle; and National Route 68 provides a short diversion to Alston).
The NCN is very well signposted – blue-and-white signs along its length show a bike logo and the national route number in white in a red box, while regional route numbers are in a blue square. Signs may also show a destination and distance. Signposting is extremely clear, and there are C2C signs at every twist and turn of the route.
This guide shows the route highlighted on sections of OS mapping. (Although OS maps are not required for the C2C, they are useful for exploring the surrounding area.) Sustrans produces an excellent Sea to Sea (C2C) Cycle Route Map, which is updated every few years to record any route changes. Cyclists may find it useful to take this map with them, as it shows the NCN route numbers.
GPS provides a modern alternative to a paper map. Waypoints for the route can be programmed into a cycle-oriented unit such as the Garmin Edge, which fits on the handlebars, is waterproof and includes speed, trip, time, altitude and many other functions. The advantage is that you don’t have to scratch your head and consult the map when there are no signposts. As long as the correct information has been put into the GPS you can just keep riding. A GPS is most useful for completing a one- or two- day C2C challenge, but optional for riding the route at a more leisurely pace, as it is well waymarked.
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P63 - The Lakeland Pedlar cafe has closed
Bike hire from Haven Cycles is now £40 for up to three days then £5 per day thereafter. Full contact details are:
2 Preston Road
Tel: 01946 63263
‘This guide is for everyone taking up the challenge, whether in a single day or a whole week, and is full of advice on planning and preparation for everyone from first-time cycle tourers to trail-hardened speed fiends.
This is a ‘must have’ guide for anyone tackling this demanding but very rewarding bike ride.’
The Keswick Reminder, 5th August 2011
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Jeremy Evans has produced books on all his favourite outdoor activities, with titles covering sailing, windsurfing, trekking and camping, as well as cycling on road and on trail. In the early days of mountain biking, Jeremy pioneered cycle routes across the UK, then discovered the delights of riding Audax marathons up to 400km. When family life intervened, Jeremy encouraged his wife and three lovely daughters to enjoy extensive cycling tours in France, Switzerland and the UK. His family all helped to ride and research the magnificent C2C route, cycling across England's finest landscape from coast to coast.View Guidebooks by Jeremy Evans