C2C - Route 7
From Start: 214km (134m) | From Finish: 1.6km (1m)
South Shields 12.3km (7.7m)
Breeze along the Wear Trail following the river, passing the Stadium of Light. Here you will have the option of continuing along the river past Sunderland University and the National Glass Centre or heading into town.
Perhaps hold off going to the railway station until you have dipped your wheels or at least got yourself to the Roker seafront.
To do this ride past the harbour and round the Roker Marina and yacht club. Go past the Lifeboat Station and the end is at the black granite block with a hole in the middle (artist: Andrew Small).
The city is set right on the mouth of the River Wear next to an award-winning coastline and surrounded by easily accessible countryside. Sunderland has a range of outstanding heritage, cultural and sporting attractions and a great programme of annual events. There's a distinctive mix of city, coast and countryside.
Sunderland City Council commissioned a series of artworks to greet cyclists as they reach the final leg of the routes and to mark the finishing point at Roker at the seafront. Created by artist Andrew Small, the designs for the artwork were inspired by Bede, 8th Century monk and father of modern history. He calculated the motion of the sun and the moon to set the dates of Easter from his monastic cell in Jarrow.
The first artwork ‘Second Sun’ is located next to Wearmouth Bridge. ‘Second Sun’ consists of an aluminium sphere featuring animated images of the sun taken from a NASA satellite. Those who study the artwork as they pass will see the sun rotate and flare, while those who choose to stare directly at Second Sun will see it in 3D.
From Wearmouth Bridge cyclists encounter a series of way markers which have been placed along the final mile. Each way marker features images of planets in the solar system, sited at relative distances from Second Sun with a countdown to the end of the route.
The artwork ‘C’, located at Roker, celebrates and creates an end point for cyclists when they finish. ‘C’ is a large granite monolith, which frames Roker Lighthouse and places the "official" end of the route firmly in Sunderland!
The mirror-polished finish, reflecting surroundings and people nearby, has star constellations etched into its surface. The monolith has been positioned so that when Easter Sunday dawns, the sun will shine directly through it.
The commissions were part of a citywide programme to develop art in public places, part of an attempt to boost Sunderland’s reputation as a place to live, work, study and visit.
More about the City
Sunderland was once home of shipbuilding, coal-mining, glass blowing and rope making, but it has reinvented itself since becoming a city in 1992, and is now a fascinating mixture of history, heritage and modern facilities.
It lies alongside the River Wear, and has been a major trading hub since Anglo-Saxon times, when it was one of Europe's major centres of learning and education thanks to the twin monastic settlements of St Peter's (built in 674 with examples of the oldest stained glass in England) and St Paul's. For this is where the Venerable Bede wrote the first history of England. It is also where the art of glass blowing was introduced.
By the Middle Ages, it was one of the biggest and wealthiest towns in England and the Industrial Revolution proved to be an even bigger boom time. The erstwhile town's population exploded from 15,000 to 150,000 in just a few years.
That was when the harbour, created to handle a few small fishing vessels, blossomed into the biggest international centre for shipbuilding, with as many as 16 working yards. Then, in 1988, more than 550 years of history ended when the last shipyard closed.
The coal trains and the heavy industry are long gone, but the grandeur of those Victorian riches can still be seen in echoes of the shipyards visible from the Wearmouth bridge and the elegant architecture, plus the country parks at Roker and Mowbray.
Now, the dockside that was once filled with soot, coal dust and the sparks flying from the yards, is an elegant sculpture trail where tranquillity and works of art have replaced the thunder of heavy industry.
The country parks at Herrington and Hetton Lyons are worth the diversion and the route skirts the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust nature reserve at Washington. When you reach the sea you are greeted by the longest stretch of cityside beach in the UK.
Sunderland is also reinventing itself as a modern waterfront city, with bars, restaurants and a thriving nightlife to welcome you if you've still got the energy after pedalling over the spine of England.
Places to Visit
Arts Centre Washington Biddick Lane, Fatfield District 7, Washington, Tyne & Wear, NE38 8AB. The Arts Centre Washington is a vibrant focus for arts activities offering a year round programme of arts activities includes exhibitions, theatre, dance, music, festivals, classes and workshops for all ages. 0191 219 3455.
Sights on Your Way
Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens Burdon Road, Sunderland SR1 1PP. Sunderland's museum is hugely popular with visitors of all ages and offers a range of fascinating multimedia installations to tell the city's story from its early foundations to the present day and one of the galleries boasts an extensive collection of paintings by LS Lowry. 0191 553 2323.www.twmuseums.org.uk
Stadium of Light, SR5 1SU. Magnificent 48,000-seater stadium built on the site of Wearmouth Colliery that closed in 1994. Well worth a visit, tours are available. Alongside is the brand new Olympic standard 50 metre swimming pool, the only one of its kind between Leeds and Edinburgh. 0191 551 5055 www.safc.com
The Sunderland Empire, High Street West, Sunderland SR1 3EX. Opened in 1907, is the North East's largest theatre and a splendid example of Edwardian architecture. Following a £4.5 million refurbishment the Empire now boasts 21st Century facilities and is the only theatre between Manchester and Edinburgh capable of staging large West End productions. 0870 602 1130 www.getlive.co.uk/sunderland
National Glass Centre, Liberty Way, Sunderland SR6 0GL. Housed in an innovative glass- roofed building on the north bank of the Wear, the National Glass Centre is a fascinating experience and visitors can explore the full history of glass making in the UK and see cutting edge examples of the contemporary glass maker's art. 0191 515 5555 www.nationalglasscentre.com
Wearmouth Bridge. Built in 1796 and seen as a catalyst for the growth of Sunderland. The previous bridge was at Chester-le-Street. There was a pedestrian tol until 1846, and for vehicles until 1885. The adjacent railway bridge opened in 1879 and carries both Metro and conventional rail.
Marine Activities Centre, North Dock, Roker, Sunderland SR6 0PW. The marina at Roker is Sunderland's main focus for all types of water-based sports and leisure activities and boasts an Italian restaurant with panoramic sea views. It's also near your C2C finishing line. 0191 514 1847.
City Centre. Across the Wearmouth Bridge stands Sunderland City Centre, incorporating great places to eat, drink and shop and includes bike shops, the Central Railway Station and venues well worth a visit.
St Peter's Church. East of the Wearmouth Bridge, alongside the C2C and the University is St Peter's church, home to the Venerable Bede until he moved to St Paul's in Jarrow. There is now a walkway and cycleway linking the two, and you may spot the small blue signs for it along the rest of the route.
Sunniside & Sunniside Gardens. A large area of public open space in the eastern part of the city centre. The surrounding area is emerging as a cultural quarter with new bars and restaurants and over 100 listed buildings.
Roker Beach and Pier. With its distinctive red and white granite lighthouse, Roker beach provides a wonderful seaside playground and is an ideal place for water sports, with the Marine Activities Centre and other facilities close by.
Northeast Aircraft Museum. After the Wetlands Centre heading east, near Nissan and the riverside and close to the A19, is the new museum which has absorbed the military vehicle collection from the old Newcastle museum. There is a mock World War II street and the North East Bus Preservation Society is gradually moving across its collection of trams and coaches from Newcastle.
Hylton Castle. A short distance after the A19 is Hylton Castle, displaying an early Stars and Stripes emblem that the Washingtons eventually took with them to USA. The Hylton family were keen fighters and their castle ruins provided inspiration for Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland.
The Cliff. Pub near to the finish is mentioned in a good ale guide and provides the seat of learning for students doing Sunderland university's brewing course.
Where to Eat and Drink
There are a number of public houses near the C2C finishing point. The Harbour View, The New Derby, The Cliff, The Queen Vic, the bar of the Roker Hotel and a few others are all within walking distance. The Smugglers, on the promenade at Roker Beach, was voted the top music venue in Sunderland and they have live music most days of the week.
Bar meals are available at most of these pubs. There are also a number of excellent Italians in Little Italy on the promenade, and Santini's and Gabrielle's by the Marriott .
For snacks, try the Bungalow Café on the cliff top at Roker. It is a well-known landmark, an old- fashioned cafe in a tiny bungalow. Next to it is the famous signpost, marked: "To Beach" (pointing towards the beach), "To Village" (pointing into Roker), "To Bungalow" (pointing to the cafe), and "To Germany" (pointing out to sea).
Shagorika: traditional Indian, reliable feast.
Priti Raj: contempory Indian, highly rated.
Over the Queen Alexandra Bridge
KING'S ARMS, 1 Beech St, Hanover Place, SR4 6BU. (off Trimdon St behind the B&Q) This is worth the diversion as it's one of the best beer pubs in the North East. It's a ten minute walk from the city centre and is close to the university. Regulars include Timothy Taylor Landlord plus a wide choice of guest beers. There are nine handpumps. Camra pub of the year 2005, 2006 and regional North East winner. Lots of wood panelling, a small snug and lots of pictures of old Sunderland . 0191 567 9804.
SALTGRASS, Hanover Place, SR4 6BY. Quite why two of Sunderland's best ale houses happen to be tucked behind B&Q just south of the Alexandra Bridge is a mystery that will resolve itself after a pint or two of the many guest beers. Old fashioned and friendly. Beamed ceilings, lots of old pictures. Popular for Sunday lunch. 0191 565 7229.
Where To Sleep
The Chaise Guesthouse
Run by: John Snaith
Parking lots, wheelchair access, pets welcome, facilities for cyclists. Large Victorian family-run guesthouse with a seafront position near the city centre. Many of the rooms have sea views. Warm welcome and large breakfasts.
Rooms: 10. B&B: from £20. Single occ. £30.
address : 5 Roker Terrace, SR6 9NB
telephone : 0191 565 9218
Bede Guest House
Run by: Pam Tate
Lively and welcoming seaside guesthouse close to the city centre and the metro station. Friendly and informal, the rooms are well furnished and clean. There are several restaurants and cafes nearby. You can park here and pets are welcome. There are facilities for cyclists, broadband Wi-Fi and Pam is an expert on genealogy and local history. Lots of music and fun to be had at the nearby Smugglers pub.
B&B: from £24 - £34 single occ.
At end of route.
Run by: Karen Dawson
Very handy for the end of the route. Quiet residential street just off the sea front with plenty of availability at weekends, though can be busy during the week. There is a secure yard in which to store bikes.
Rooms: 6T, 6S.
Pubs & restaurants: lots nearby.
At end of route.
Run by: Gary Hunter
Family run 4 Star guesthouse with an good reputation for service and comfort. Parking facilities. Rooms en-suite with colour TV, Tea & Coffee facilities. Sea views available
Rooms : 3T, 5D, 2S (all en-suite) B&B : £25 On route : Secure storage Pub : 250m : 4-star
Mayfield Guest House
Run by: Vincent and Judith Richardson
Attractive building overlooking Seaburn Park and the seafront, close to some good bars and restaurants on Seaburn Promenade, only a few minutes walk. Just 400m away are long stretches of beach which have been awarded the Blue Flag.
Rooms: 4T, 5D, 1F. B&B: £19-£24. City centre: 2 miles. 3-stars Secure lock up.
Run by: Duty Manager
Sunderland's only four star hotel is on the seafront overlooking the sandy beaches at Seaburn, two miles north of the city centre and very convenient for the end of the route. A full-service hotel offering modern, high quality accommodation for business and leisure travellers alike. All bedrooms have en-suite facilities and many have sea views. If you want to finish the ride in style, there's a cocktail bar and a good restaurant, private parking and good leisure facilities. The hotel has recently undergone a £0.5 million bedroom refurbishment.
B&B: from £45.
Tavistock Roker Hotel
Run by: Duty manager
Dating back to 1842 this landmark Victorian hotel has recently been refurbished. Facilities now include two restaurants (an Italian and a Thai/Chinese), a late bar, conference and banqueting facilities for up to 350 people, and 57 en-suite rooms, many with views of the North Sea. The hotel is ideally located for the end of the C2C and is not far from the city centre.
Rooms: 57. B&B: around £45 - phone for rates. Evening meal: Yes: two restaurants (see above). Packed lunch: by arrangement.