Here is a new GPS view of the route, done by Martin Price of the Calder Clarion Cycle Club, who cycled from Sunderland to Whitehaven using only roads: http://www.calder-clarion.co.
The Sea to Sea (C2C) cycle route was developed by Sustrans in partnership with various Local Authorities, Groundwork West Cumbria, North Pennines Tourism Partnership, Forest Enterprise and the Lake District National Park amongst others. The route was opened in 1994 running from Whitehaven on the west coast of Cumbria to the North East coast at Sunderland, and has an average of between 12,000 and 15,000 cyclists completing the route every year (and literally hundreds of thousands of other doing shorter sections). According to Sustrans this is developing around £12 million a year for the local economy.
The C2C starts in the former coal mining and industrial lands of West Cumbria, travels through the stunning scenery of the northern Lake District and heads into Keswick before passing through Penrith and the Eden Valley with its lush valleys and sandstone villages. It then starts the climb up to Hartside and onto the unspoilt Northern Pennines – the roof of England. There then follows an undulating ride as the C2C meanders through old lead mining villages, such as Nenthead and Rookhope, and down into the Durham Dales before entering the old steel town of Consett. From here it’s an easy ride through one of Britain’s old industrial heartlands to the North Sea and Sunderland. There is also the option of starting at Workington, St Bees or Maryport and/or finishing at Tynemouth.
The route is made up of approximately….
Main Roads – mainly short sections through urban areas – 4%
Minor Roads - quiet, country roads – 50%
Cyclepaths/Off Road – disused railway lines etc – 46%
The route is best ridden from West to East to take advantage of the prevailing winds (supposedly!) from the West as well as having the gradients in your favour, i.e. short uphills and long downhills! Tradition dictates that you start the ride by dipping your back wheel in the Irish Sea and only ends when your front wheel gets a dip in the North Sea at the finish.
At 147 miles long, the C2C is part of the much larger National Cycle Network of nearly 10,000 miles. It is Britain’s most popular long distance cycle route and is based on minor roads, disused railway lines, off-road tracks and specially constructed cycle paths. The route (especially the purpose built cycle paths) is designed for everyone, from families to club riders and doesn’t favour either ‘roadies’ or ‘off-roaders’. Along the route where there are off-road sections, but you always have the option of taking the surfaced alternative. Although still a challenge with some seriously hard climbs – the highest point being over 2000 feet – the C2C is still completed every year by thousands of recreational cyclists as well as the more committed bikers. For the more ambitious cyclist, the C2C can easily be combined with Hadrian’s Cycleway or the Reivers route to produce the stunning 310-mile Reivers/C2C round trip, handily bringing you back to the starting point. We are adding Hadrian’s Cycleway to this site, as well as similar details on how to tackle the Reivers route. Guidebooks are on sale on this website with a new 2009 guide to all three Coast to Coast routes coming out early in the New Year.
For more information on the various weird and wonderful artworks along the C2C route visit the artworks page.