Coast 2 Coast cycle route - Whitehaven to Sunderland c2c

A brilliant weekend for our charity bike ride on our 3 day Coast to Coast cycle route, from Whitehaven in Cumbria to Sunderland on the North-East Coast


Coast 2 Coast cycle route - Whitehaven to Sunderland c2c - map - bed & breakfast - penrith - rookhope
The start of our Coast to Coast cycle route at Whitehaven, and everyone looking fresh (it won't last for long :-) 


A tough, but fun, 3 days doing the c2c cycle route.


Quite a few of my mates are outdoor types and always up for a challenge - so we set ourselves the big challenge of doing the c2c cycle route over 3 days one weekend in September. We also thought it would be a good idea to each raise some money for charity while we were at it, and my nominated charity was the Teenage Cancer Trust. This cycling challenge was tough going at times - but one of the best weekends and laughs we've had as a group - and I really recommend it to anyone who is thinking of doing. The days are a hardwork on the bikes, and I've rarely appreciated a hot shower, evening meal and few pints more than on this trip.

The coast to coast map route:

Coast to Coast cycle route map - Whitehaven to Sunderland
The map of the full Coast to Coast cycle route that we took - heading west to east, from Whitehaven to Sunderland, a full 212km (131 miles) in total. You can find more details about our route on the following link, including a detailed ordnance survey map, GPX & memory maps http://www.gps-routes.co.uk/routes/home.nsf/RoutesLinksCycle/whitehaven-to-sunderland-cycle-route

The 3 day c2c plan:

We all live not too far from Sunderland on the North-east coast, so we decided we would start at Whitehaven, as it seemed a bit more scenic starting here rather than Workington. We were fortunate in that we had a volunteer driver, so we rented a van for a weekend, booked a nights stay in a b&b at Penrith and another one in Rookhope, and packed the bikes & bags and headed off very early on Day 1 on the 2.5hr drive to Whitehaven.

  • On Day 1 we would cover Whitehaven to Penrith which was 88km cycling (For elevation see section 0km - 88km on the below elevation map). Day one only had a couple of climes, and we wanted to cycle as far as possible, knowing that from Penrith onwards on Day 2 it would;d be pretty tough
  • On Day 2 - we would cycle Penrith to Rookhope - 67km in total (section 88km - 155km on the below map). This section included the fabled (amongst c2c'ers) Hartside Pass - which is the toughest section of the full route. 
  • On Day 3 we cycled from Rookhope to Sunderland, which was 70km (see section 155km to 212km), but pretty easy going in terms of climes compared to the previous 2 days.



Coast to Coast cycle route map - Whitehaven to Sunderland
The full elevation map of our route from Whitehaven to Sunderland. day 2 was by far the toughest, which is from section 88km to 155km. You can see the mammoth Hartside Pass clime just after the 100km mark.

Some of our photos on the c2c route

(note the camera tended to be put away on the hard parts - full concentration was needed :-)

Day 1 - Whitehaven to Penrith, 88km

Coast 2 Coast cycle route - Whitehaven to Sunderland c2c - map - bed & breakfast - penrith - rookhope
Stopping for a rest on Lowswater

Coast 2 Coast cycle route - Whitehaven to Sunderland c2c - map - bed & breakfast - penrith - rookhope
We only had one of us get a puncture, and fortunately for Mick it wasn't too far from a pub in Keswick

Coast 2 Coast cycle route - Whitehaven to Sunderland c2c - map - bed & breakfast - penrith - rookhope
Looking happy after a pub lunch in Keswick

Arriving at our B&B for the night in Penrith. (Acorn Guest House, which is on the c2c rote and biker friendly)

Our B&B hosts recommended the Station Hotel in Penrith for tea, and we weren't disappointed - it was definitely one of best Steak & Chips I've had.


Day 2 - Penrith to Rookhope, 67km

Not sure what's going on here....

Coast 2 Coast cycle route - Whitehaven to Sunderland c2c - map - bed & breakfast - penrith - rookhope
Bracing outselves at the foot of Hartside Pass. It was quite busy with cyclists, as I think local cyclists tackle this one too as part of a shorter ride.

Hartside Pass - Coast 2 Coast cycle route - Whitehaven to Sunderland c2c - map - bed & breakfast - penrith - rookhope
Knackered, but proud at the summit of Hartside Pass. I was chuffed to bits I managed to get to the top without stopping. There's a cafe up the top of here too to chill out and grab a cup of tea and some food.

Hartside Pass - Coast 2 Coast cycle route - Whitehaven to Sunderland c2c - map - bed & breakfast - penrith - rookhope
Cruising down from the summit of Hartside Pass.

We were all bussing after conquering Hartside Pass, but be warned - the next clime Garrigil, not far after Hartside is just as steep, if not steeper at the very start - it's a killer too!

Arriving at our 2nd B&B, the Rookhope Inn.

We had our partners and mates join us for tea and a few drinks here. But they drive and cheated - leaving us to tackle day 3.

Day 3 - Rookhope to Sunderland, 70km


Coast 2 Coast cycle route - Whitehaven to Sunderland c2c - map - bed & breakfast - penrith - rookhope
An early start through some more amazing scenery

Coast 2 Coast cycle route - Whitehaven to Sunderland c2c - map - bed & breakfast - penrith - rookhope
We dip into Northumberland for a little bit

Coast 2 Coast cycle route - Whitehaven to Sunderland c2c - map - bed & breakfast - penrith - rookhope
Then it's county Durham

The weather was great for us on Day 3 and it really was a nice leisurely ride into Sunderland 

Quite a lot of the c2c is on tracks or minor roads

Coast 2 Coast cycle route - Whitehaven to Sunderland c2c - map - bed & breakfast - penrith - rookhope

Coast 2 Coast cycle route - Whitehaven to Sunderland c2c - map - bed & breakfast - penrith - rookhope

Approaching Sunderland




Coast 2 Coast cycle route - Whitehaven to Sunderland c2c - map - bed & breakfast - penrith - rookhope
Very happy near the Wear Bridge that the end is in sight :-)

Made it to Sunderland and we are all intact!

Finishing up in the North Sea

It's September but got to have a swim to finish it all off

So there you go, I hope that blog post gave a little overview of our 3 day cycling adventure. As I said, it was a brilliant weekend, a real good laugh, and while physically demanding at times - it was all worthwhile. If you are thinking about doing it - then do it - I'd love to do it again and is one of the best weekends I've had.

Coast to Coast - Top 5 Tips

#1 I think any reasonably fit person can complete this route in 3 days. At the time of doing this I wasn't a big cyclist, only doing the odd ride a month. I did do a bit of training, but only a couple of 10-20mile rides a week in the few weeks leading up to the challenge. I was though fairly fit from football and the gym, and a little bit on the cycling machines in the gym. In hindsight - I think my training focussed too much on distance, and not enough on hills. While it's important to get used to spending a few hours on the saddle, it's the steep hills on day 2 which are the big challenge. If I was training again - I would do more spinning classes in the gym to get used to really working those leg muscles in preparation for the hills. But in saying that - I did mange to do most of the hills, including Hartside Pass, it was only Garrigil that defeated me!

#2 We were lucky in having a van driver that would meet us both nights, and to carry our clothes etc and a spare couple of bikes. We played it safe, but could probably have managed it without a driver as long as we could have carried out clothes on our bikes. We didn't have need for spare bikes, and all the bikes coped well, even the one without any suspension. There was only one puncture, and no major bike failings (but would obviously recommend being prepared for bike malfunctions and taking the right tools just in case) We only used mountain bikes too, but the route was all minor roads or dirt track - so a hybrid bike would have been ok too. I wouldn't have asked anything with thin tyres though.

#3 I think the route we took was perfect, and we made a good choice to spend the night in Penrith, rather than Keswick on the 1st night, as the route after Penrith is pretty demanding.

#4 For a lot of people the c2c is a good challenge, and if your doing it in a group, why not try and raise a bit of money for a charity while you are at it! I personally managed to raise a few quid for the Teenage Cancer Trust! It wasn't much - but better than nowt!




#5 I'd also recommend just searching around the web for others peoples experiences (as no doubt others faced some challenges and will have some tips), but other than that, like I said, for any reasonably fit person the coast t coast cycle route from Whitehaven to Sunderland is more than do-able! So give it a go :-)

Anyway - thanks for reading! If you have any questions - just post a comment and i'll try and answer.

I'd like to give a big shout out to Altura - who donated a few bits of specialist Cycle Clothing to support the charity cycling effort. I personally used the Altura Night Vision Jacket (above/in red) - and it was spot on for my needs. It was comfortable,  kept me warm enough and dry when there was a bit of rain, visible when the light was poor, and the extended back-end and adjustable cuffs is just what every cyclist needs. For the latest version of the Night Vision jacket - please visit http://www.altura.co.uk/products/detail/AL22EVO5