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Cycling from Coast to Coast - Richard Caldicott

 

Day Three: Penrith to Alston

Day Four: “Wilderness”

Thanks to Richard for his superb account of what sounds like a tough ride. If you’d like to read more from Richard then you can visit his website here  where you’ll find his thoughts and experiences on cycling in general in a series of blogs. Oh and his pictures are awesome as well! If you’re taking on a tour or cycling challenge and would like to write a diary of your experience then please get in touch as we’d love to follow your story! Simply e-mail us at leisurecycling@outlook.com and we’ll be in touch!
The route from Whitehaven to Keswick on the first day was fairly easy. Flat cycle paths to start with, a much needed lunch at a pub that was a few miles off the track and a lot of classic Cumbrian scenery. We made the Whinlater pass and eventually a fast downhill ride to Derwent Water. It made for a for a fantastic end to the day. A cool breeze skimmed across the lake and the boats and yatchs out on the water. We weren't the only cyclists that day as we entered Keswick amongst a peleton of other cyclists. Some like us had chosen youth hostels and bed and breakfasts and the more rugged had opted for the self supported camping option with hefty panniers.

Day Two: Keswick to Penrith

Day One: Whitehaven to Keswick

Day Five: And on to Whitby Bay

The coast to coast looked like a nice trundle across the hills and the moors of Cumbria and Northumberland and indeed it would have been if it were not for the nine thousand feet of ascent between Whitehaven and Whitby Bay......
After a night in Keswick we were ready to get going towards Penrith. At 42 miles it seemed a bit daunting but when cycling with others and not at my own lunatic leg burning pace, it was actually quite easy. However, there were some steep sections and a couple of off shoots that I couldn’t follow on my rigid fork hybrid bike. Whilst the others took on an off road section on their fat knobbly tyred mountain bikes I followed a tarmac out of Keswick and on towards the Boot and Shoe Inn at Greystoke. I decided to pass by Blencathra on the A66, scared myself on a 40mph downhill and finally arrived at the Boot and Shoe feeling exhilarated and puffed at the same time. Little did I realise that it would take at least an hour and a half for the others to arrive as their section was a bone shaker. It’s amazing how much coffee can be consumed in the space of an hour and a half without anything else to do. Having spent just over two hours marooned at a pub without my friends I was keen to get going but more than likely it was due to the several coffees I had consumed. The onward journey into Penrith takes in the vistas of some of the most famous mountains in the Lakes and eventually leads into the moors and hills of Northumbria.
After a huge breakfast in Penrith we continued East towards our next stop in Alston. An easy ride of only twenty seven miles which allowed us a lengthy and much needed lunch break. At the time we didn't realise just how useful these calories would be as a  two thousand foot climb up Hartside stood between us and our hostel in Alston. The pain was worth it as the descent into Alston was down some fantastic newly tarmacked road. Speeding down Hartside at over thirty miles an hour was a great end to the day as was Alston itself.
This day was not so great as I managed to get myself utterly lost on two occasions owing to detours that avoided the off road sections.  The first escapade found me struggling up a hill of immense gradient and was interspersed with the occasional flat section that gave the illusion that the climb was over. Unfortunately it wasn’t. After each flat, the gradient kicked in again until I'd lost hope that there would actually be a summit! Thankfully, the summit appeared and so did some of my breakfast. The descent into Nenthead was so steep I had to get off and walk my bike. Having eventually caught up with the others I found myself on yet another uphill struggle that lasted quite some time until we had to part company again owing to another off road section. Having parted with the others, I found myself climbing up a leg ripping ascent into a very bleak wilderness until it dawned on me that I had gone the wrong way and thus had to descend down the hill of pain to the nearest village. Having found a pub and downed two pints of lemonade I was shocked to find that the remaining section of the ride across the moors of Northumberland was preceded by another massive uphill battle. There was absolutely no way that I could do this and as I sat in a sweaty dishevelled heap, a kindly woman with a people carrier offered to take me all the way to Consett. It was a looong way and thankfully I had four wheels instead of two!
Although the terrain was easy, the ascents and the hours in the saddle of the last few days was beginning to take its toll on my energy levels. To say I was exhausted was an understatement. Thankfully much of the route followed old train lines and weaved through the suburban estates of west Newcastle. By two in the afternoon we had reached Whitby Bay and the end of the C2C. It's a tough route so a reasonable level of fitness and endurance is needed. Best to go in good weather!
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