[I’ve done the Coast to Coast – the 140-mile cross-country trek from Whitehaven (or Workington) to Sunderland (or Newcastle) – four times. This was the first time, in 1997, three years after it opened.]
We drove up from Bath and left the car in a street in Jesmond, then took a train to Whitehaven with our bikes. Over lunch in Tesco, a woman in her 50s told us enthusiastically how she had just done the C2C on her folding bike in two days. We were planning on taking four, but judging by the way she cleared her plate in seconds, she was a faster mover than us.
We couldn’t find anywhere to dip our wheels in the waters of the harbour, as tradition apparently dictated, and we set off watched by several of the boat skippers who all looked like Captain Birdseye.
The beginning was lovely, all smooth railway paths. When we got lost in housing estates, locals would lean out of their windows, some of them in dressing gowns and half-shaven, and spontaneously give us helpful directions. It all felt very friendly and supportive.
Gradually the scenery rose up around us and became the northern Lakes, with waterside lanes and jolly bun-like hills. It was all sunny and feelgood. Whinlatter’s visitor centre, and its gravelly forest roads, had a giant badger sett to visit, and we picnicked in the woods before our final descent through cool woods to Keswick, and our B&B home for the night.
Miles today: 38
Miles since Whitehaven: 38