The Coast to Coast or the C2C as it is more commonly known is the UK’s most popular long distance cycle route.
At 140 miles in length the route begins on the west coast of Cumbria at either Whitehaven or Workington and finishes on the north east coast at Sunderland or Tynemouth / Newcastle. C2C as in from the Irish Sea to the North Sea.
Up to 15,000 cyclists make the crossing every year typically completing the route in 3-5 days although some super fit ones manage it in one day! The route usage increases each year, cylce tourism certainly hasnt peaked in the UK!
The vast majority of the route is made up of cyclepaths, off road sections and quiet country roads and although there are some urban parts these account for very little of the trip.
The route starts in the former Industrial areas of West Cumbria, travelling through the stunning scenery of the northern Lake District before heading through the Eden valley and onto the northern Pennines (the roof of England).
The route continues through several old lead mining villages and down into the Durham dales before heading towards the finishing line in the old industrial heartlands of the north east and journeys end at either Newcastle or Sunderland.
The route is not without some challenging terrain providing some hard climbs (the highest point being over 2,000 feet) but with some basic training and a little willpower it should be achievable to most.
Originally the route was set up as a flag ship back in 1994 after development by Sustrans and the national cycle network in partnership with various local authorities, groundwork West Cumbria, North Pennines Tourism Partnership, Forest Enterprise and the Lake District National park amongst others.
At various points along the route a number of sculptures and public artworks have been commissioned to enhance the cyclist’s enjoyment.
The C2C is best ridden from west to east to take advantage of the prevailing winds and the more favourable gradients.
Tradition dictates that you start the ride by dipping your back wheel in the Irish Sea and only finish when your front wheel gets a dip in the North Sea at the other end.
Route maps, books and detailed guides for the C2C are available from Sustrans.