The C2C Cycle Route follows a specially created trail from the lighthouse at the port of Whitehaven on the Irish sea coast to the lighthouse at Sunderland on the shores of the North sea. In the course of its 140 mile passage it takes in some of the best of the scenery that the Lake District and the wild Pennines have to offer. Almost all of the 140 mile route is based on minor roads and cycle paths, so that cycling can be enjoyed to the full without worrying about traffic. Four days cycling will cover the journey, but you may want to linger and enjoy the sites and scenery along the route more fully, in which case six days affords a fairly leisurely outing. there are many points of interest on or near the trail that merit a detour. not least the beautiful cathedral city of Durham. Riders can get their route maps stamped at various points along the trail, those who complete the route qualify for the C2C t-shirt!
Stage 1: Whitehaven to Keswick (31 miles).
From Whitehaven to Rowrah the route is mainly on the Sustrans Ennerdale Railway path, along this section there is a sculpture trail which interprets the geology and industrial history of the region. From here it's on to minor roads up to Loweswater. The climb up from Lorton to Whinlatter Pass is the first big test. The Whinlatter Visitor Centre at the top does food in season, it can be a welcome rest and shelter. The centre is in the midst of the mountain forest and contains a wealth of local habitat information. The route continues on forest tracks to Thornthwaite, and then follows minor roads to Keswick.
Stage 2: Keswick to Langwathby (27 miles).
This stage of the route in the Vale of Eden is an easy ride of ever changing scenery. You will follow minor roads, out of the centre of Keswick the road climbs steeply past Castlerigg Stone Circle and then passes through the village of Threlkeld, you will need to go down some steps and cross the A66 to continue on your way to Troutbeck, where you will need to cross the A66 once more. Continue through Greystoke and the market town of Penrith, after crossing the River Eden you will reach Langwathby. There is an alternative route along the Old Coach Road, which leaves the main route at Castlerigg Stone Circle and follows a steep rough track over Threlkeld Common to Matterdale End. This alternative rejoins the main route at Greystoke.
Stage 3: Langwathby to Allenheads (30 miles).
The most mountainous section of the entire route, this stage contains four major hills within twenty miles. Climb steeply out of Langwathby to reach the Little Meg Stone Circle, continue on minor roads and then on to a stoney track, join the A686, a Tarmac road, and follow it to the first and the steepest hill Hartside, which is also the watershed between the Irish and North seas. After Hartside, continue through the villages of Leadgate and Garrigill. From the centre of Garrigill continue along the south side of the River South Tyne, before crossing it by a ford. A steep uphill track will take you to Priorsdale, from where the route descends steeply through old lead mines to Nenthead. After Nenthead you reach Black Hill, the highest point on the C2C. The stage ends by descending into the valley of the River East Allen and the village of Allenheads.
Stage 4: Allenheads to Stanley (29 miles).
Marking the end of the rough, hilly terrain of the Northern Pennines, this stage marks the start of the industrial landscape of the North East. A steady climb out of Allenheads until you reach the summit at Currick, which is followed by the long, more gentle descent down the Rookhope Valley. Scars from centuries of lead mining are evident in the valley. The route leaves the road in Rookhope village and climbs steeply up the old railway incline, from here the route follows rough tracks and paths until it reaches Waskerley. (This section of the route will be closed occasionally during the shooting season, when alternative routes must be used. Follow the Waskerley way, a reclaimed railway path, you will cross the Hownsgill viaduct, and then continue on the Consett and Sunderland Railway Path, passing through Consett, Leadgate, and Annfield Plain, continuing to Stanley you will pass several sculptures on the way.
Stage 5: Stanley to Sunderland (16 miles).
This stage is one of the easiest on the C2C, with the exception of one small climb at Cox Green it is all downhill or flat, allowing plenty of time to enjoy the changing scenery, from the rolling hills of Beamish to the industry of Sunderland. From Stanley continue along the Consett and Sunderland Railway Path, past Beamish, Pelton and Washington. Along the route there are access points at most road crossings allowing the towns to be visited, to explore and use facilities. There are several sculptures, part of a sculpture trail stretching from Consett to Chester le Street. From Washington continue through James Steel Park and cross the River Wear, there is then a steep climb on the way to Pallon. In the final section you will follow the path alongside the River Wear, past the marina to reach the North Sea at Roker.
Getting to Whitehaven
Arriving by car: If you have to bring a car with you, it is best to arrange parking with your accommodation.
Arriving by train:
To get to Whitehaven by train you must get a mainline train to Carlisle and then change on to a local train to reach Whitehaven. The journey from Carlisle takes about one hour and follows the coastline, so the scenery is spectacular.
To reach Sunderland you will need to get a train to Newcastle and then change on to local train.
NB: You will need to book you're bike on the train in advance.
For train timetable information call National Rail Enquiries: 08457 48 49 50, or visit >nationalrail.co.uk
Bikes on Trains
Travel can be reserved for bikes only on trains where seats can be reserved. On local non-reservable trains there is a limit of 2 bikes per train imposed by the Health & Safety authorities. Acceptance on these trains is at the discretion of the guard and is on a first come basis.
There is no national central reservations phone number for cycles. Each train company is responsible for its own bookings. Information can be obtained by calling them direct:
First North Western (for Cumbria & the North West): 0845 6040 231
Northern Spirit (for the North East and Leeds to Skipton): 0870 602 3322
Neither company gives much guidance on its web site but you may find it worthwhile to consult them.
Arriving via Manchester Airport: If there are four of you, the journey to Whitehaven will be cheaper by taxi than by train. If there are less then four of you, get a mainline train from Manchester Airport to Carlisle, to connect with a local train to Whitehaven.
At the end of your trip: If you need to return to the start of the trail to collect a car or to catch a train, we offer return transport at £50. This will take you and your bike back to the start of the trail, whether it be Whitehaven or Sunderland.