Coast to Coast 2009 by Tony Shoesmith
Coast to Coast 2009
On Friday 26th June four of my work colleagues and I headed up to Whitby on the east coast. We had hired a VW van, our road bikes were stacked neatly in the back and my mate Simon had agreed to be driver for the weekend. The plan was to cycle from Coast to Coast. The official C2C route is a walking route cross country but as none of us had 3 weeks to spare we had mapped out a scenic route on B roads and country lanes and planned to cycle it over 3 days at about 65 miles per day. The drive up took 7 hours as we hit traffic almost everywhere. Once we had checked into our cheap B&B we headed into Whitby to celebrate the fact that Simon had turned 40 that day.
When we woke the next morning we were greeted by thick fog. (I hadn’t slept well as the window next to my bed didn’t close and there were a dozen seagulls nesting on the window ledge, never realised how noisy those buggers are). After a full monty English breakfast we headed to Robin Hoods Bay to begin our trip. We all dipped our wheels in the ocean then headed off, our first climb was a 30% hill straight up from the coast, luckily it wasn’t that long (100 metres max) but we were all hung-over and were still digesting our fried breakfasts and the hill was a real lung buster, it warmed us up though. There were 4 of us cycling and 1 driver, 3 of us were casual club/leisure riders and 1 guy (Jake) was very strong, he had been riding for 25 years and had been a category 1 road racer at one point so he naturally set the pace and the rest of us rolled along a fair way behind. The weather soon turned ugly, the skies opened and we had torrential rain (a stark reminder of my end to end trip and the tour of Ireland), this was made worse by the fact that London was having a heat wave. Despite the weather the cycling was tremendous, we rode across the North Yorkshire Moors on quiet country lanes, it was a bit precarious in the wet misty conditions and the hills ranged from between 17% - 25%. It was a challenging day but we rolled into the town of Richmond in good spirits ready to sample some local ale.
Day 2 saw us head out of Richmond through the Yorkshire Dales and across the Pennines. The weather was much better today and with our staple diet of hangover + fry-up we were feeling good. The cycling was again tremendous, rolling lanes through glorious countryside with some long steady climbs and fun descents. We rode through Kirkby Stephen, Nateby, Appleby in Westmoreland, past Rutter Falls to our destination - Penrith, another large town with some great public houses. We curbed the drinking slightly that night, 3 pints and a large steak each then we all went back to the B&B and watched a DVD, American Werewolf in London, top movie (Jenny Agutter as Nurse Alice Price, yum).
Day 3 we awoke to glorious sunshine, it was baking even at 9 in the morning, we cycled out of town and 2 miles later we entered the Lake District National Park, it was stunning, winding car free roads through green rolling countryside, there was also plenty of wildlife to enjoy, at one point we had a Golden Eagle souring high above us which was tremendous. Our route that day was incredible, past the Castlerigg Stone Circle near Keswick with tremendous views in all directions, along the shores of Derwent Water to Borrowdale then up over Honister Pass which was some of the best (and most challenging) cycling I had ever done in the UK. We descended Honister to Lake Buttermere and Crummock Water, the reflection of the mountain in the Lake was a real eye opener and looked like somewhere in the Rocky Mountains, F1 Jets were flying over the Lake as we cycled past which added to the whole experience, it really was unbelievable. The combination of the heat, lack of training, greasy food and copious amounts of ale started to take there toll and we started to wilt a bit but we managed to keep turning the pedals and before we knew it we were rolling into ST. Bees, our final destination, we cycled right the way down to the beach, jumped off our bikes and dived into the sea, it was beautiful and refreshing, then our driver arrived with a cooler box full of Becks and a bottle of chilled champagne so we kicked back on the beach to celebrate the great 3 days cycling we had experienced. That night we went to the official Coast to Coast Bar in St. Bees and got slightly inebriated (just by way of a change) and watched Andy Murray win a 5 set match at Wimbledon. The next day we got up early, had another health conscious fry-up and Simon drove us home to Hertfordshire.
To sum up, I have cycled from lands End to John O Groats, I have cycled around most of Ireland and I have done quite a bit of cycling in Wales but the route that we took from Coast to Coast was up there as some of the most amazing cycling I have ever done and would recommend it to anyone.
If anybody is interested in the exact route that we took let me know and I would be happy to make it available to you.
Day 1 – Robin Hoods Bay – Richmond, 67 miles, 3500ft climbing
Day 2 – Richmond – Penrith, 63 miles, 4500ft climbing
Day 3 – Penrith – St Bees, 65 miles, 5000ft climbing.