Cycling the C2c Day 1 Whitehaven to Threlkeld

Cycling the C2C – Day one of the challenge begins with Lakes and hills.


The C2C, or sea to sea is a popular route that crosses England from the Irish Sea to the North Sea. And, like many others, we decided we’d like to take on the challenge of cycling the route from Whitehaven on the West coast to Tynemouth on the East – over 140 miles.

20160507-3We opted for the easy option of an organised tour with Newcastle based cycling holiday company Saddle Skedaddle, and doing the route over four days. It meant that we handed over the hassle of arranging accommodation, transporting luggage, understanding the route, and importantly where and when we were going to eat to someone else. A good move as I’d need all my energy for cycling, especially some of the big climbs.

Our challenge began in Gateshead, where we met our fellow cyclists and guides, Brad and Les. Here we loaded our bikes onto a trailer and piled into a minibus for the road trip over to our starting point.

We stayed overnight at The Horse and Farrier in Threlkeld, where a warm welcome and a pub meal gave us chance to get to know each other. Out of a group of ten, there were four using electric bikes on this trip and a mixture of experienced and less experienced cyclists. Most had travelled from far further afield to enjoy the scenery and challenge of the ride starting in the Lake District.

The forecast was fair for our first day cycling, so after an early breakfast, we took the bus and the bikes over to Whitehaven for the start of our trek. As we arrived, we saw plenty of other cyclists getting ready to set off. They all looked better prepared that we did!

We were a little delayed as there was a problem with one of the electric bikes. But support guide Les got his hands mucky and sorted it out and we were soon lining up for a photo on the slipway with the sea in the background. The North East coast felt a very long way away.

The first section was a gradual steady climb along old railway tracks and we motored along really nicely, enjoying the sunshine as the temperature rose. We stopped for a snack break and regroup after about 10 miles along the tracks and then the climbs really started.

We cycled on, into real Lakes scenery – glowering hills and still waters. Pale yellow primroses peeped out from deep green banks. It really was stunning.

To get the best views, you have to climb and, living on the North East coast as I do, it’s not something I do much of, so I found it challenging, but the descent into Loweswater was fantastic fun and allowed me to reach unheard of speeds on my bike.

Just after Loweswater was our first stop and our first experience of a Skedaddle lunch. No soggy sandwiches here – Les set out the first of many magnificent spreads and we fuelled up for the afternoon.

By now the wind had picked up and was in our faces. It wasn’t cold, but it added a resistance factor. I dropped into the lowest gears for the uphills and kept pedalling slowly, getting the feel for climbing on the bike.

It was an undulating afternoon, with a climb up to Whinlatter and then another thrilling fast descent. I lost my nerve a bit on this downhill and made good use of my disc brakes. I was glad I was on my Crosstrail, rather than my road bike.

20160507-15Parts of the route have been diverted due to the damage in the winter floods, meaning that after Keswick we had no option but to climb up through Castlerigg Stone Circle. That was a brute of a climb and I struggled to keep my balance in the lowest gear, and resorted to  walking the steepest bits.

But the view and the atmosphere in the Neolithic stone circle were worth the stiff legs. It was stunning in the early evening sunshine.

From here it was an easy descent and a run back to Threkeld to the Horse and Farrier, where we made the most of the sunshine in the beer garden before a well deserved evening meal. Day two was set to be a tough one…

Super six go cycling in the sunshine

After a proper big week of training and fun and taking advantage of our sudden British summer, I started to dial things down a bit last weekend.

I couldn’t resist the lure of parkrun and the rare chance to run on the Town Moor under blue skies. I had few expectations for this and as I set off, I felt my legs just lacked any power. I’d warmed up and felt fine, but when it came to the run, I just sensed I wasn’t really going to get much from going for it, so eased back and tried to enjoy it. Don’t get me wrong, I still put the effort in and it was still a tough run, but I wasn’t constantly pushing or agitating my breath.

It’s a balance, knowing when to listen to a head that says “You’ve had a big week, you don’t need to go nuts,” and when to ignore the kind of thoughts that talk you out of a race before you’ve even started. But I’ve promised myself I will learn from this year’s injury spell and just enjoy the experience sometimes. So, I finished slower again this week, but I recovered quickly and was pleased with a decent training run.

On Sunday, I had a much more exciting prospect planned, a Fetchie girls meet up for a spot of cycling and cake. Sue, Karen, Lesley Anne, Penny and I got together at Lisa ‘s place in Beamish and after a bit of bike faffing we set off up part of the Coast to Coast route, enjoying the sunshine and chat.

Unlike my last cycling adventure, I realised that I was probably one of the more experienced cyclists in the group, but our newbies did a fantastic job. I’m not sure I could have managed a good couple of hours in the saddle in my first adventures. But it was great to be travelling along the traffic free paths, passed many times by fellow cyclists, stopping to catch up or enjoy the view.

Sunshine and optimism and good company and there was even talk of a complete C2C trek maybe next year. I eyed up Lisa’s cyclocross bike as I felt very strange to be riding my old mountain bike again, but it was perfect for nice, easy cycle with a quick blast of speed at the end.

I even managed to persuade Karen, Susie and Lesley Anne out for a bit of a run off the bikes before we collapsed in the garden ready for squash and cakes and more chat. I think we all felt like we could have settled there for the afternoon, with great hospitality from Jason and Lisa. Another great day out on the bikes with friends I’ve only met through running.

This weekend I will be taking part in my first open water triathlon. It’s a sport I’ve really grown to love. So I’m excited and a little nervous, but that’s not such a bad thing.