• Fred Newton

The Coast To Coast Cycle Route

The coast to coast is a cycling and walking route devised by the legendary Alfred Wainwright from the Irish Sea to the North Sea. You take in some of the finest upland countryside in the UK crossing the Lake District, The Pennines and North York Moors.

Your author, recounts the highs and lows of this three day journey.

Day 1: The Day of Awful Hills

129 km – 2322m ascent

The coast to coast starts in St Bees in the Lake District. A small seaside village with an ageing but friendly population. Cyclists traditionally dip their back wheel in the Irish sea which seemed a bit lame to me so clothes off, I took a plunge avoiding the merriment of my fellow riders.

From St Bee’s, our compass (or rather Garmin) was set and excitedly peddled along towards the lake district. A fairly grim section of A road before we peeled off towards Hardknott Pass (the second steepest road) in the UK. Yep. A 30 degree relentless slog at one stage out the seat and all power resulted in inching forward. But we made it on top of the pass in a wall of sweat and whizzed down the other side to Ambleside to a fantastic lunch at a pie shop.

Fuelled up, another tester awaited known as ‘The Struggle’ a relentless 4km uphill but this time with mere 25 degree climbs. Tired legs pumped on, working the heart to maximum capacity and eventually made the head of the pass, exhausted.

From there, the day got easier as we raced down alongside Ullswater and nipped across a closed bridge into Pooley Bridge. Here the group split with two sensibly opting for a nice riverside pub dinner option. The stubborn amongst us carried on well into the night to complete the final 50km.

Atmospheric, quiet and complete exhilarating racing across the moors in pitch darkness. Our only incident was a near head on with a group of sheep with one of the group

Undeterred and without having maimed a sheep, we ploughed on and made our final stop at Kirkby Stephen just after pubs have to stop serving (9:30pm), thank you Boris!

Day 2: The Day of Awful Weather

106km - 1504m ascent

Woke up sore and tired facing another long day in the saddle. Our first climb was the biggest of the day and a horrid start. The weather was fowl and progressively got worse as the day went on, a relentless oppressive rain.

We dropped down into Keld and Swaledale, a lovely unspoilt part of Yorkshire before pushing on. One of the team’s bike slowly disintegrated and with the pedal popping out and a lunch stop in Richmond was well received to get warm and sort ourselves out.

Pressing on after Richmond, the rote thankfully became much flatter with myself and one other both struggling on with dodgy knees. We climbed again into the North York Moors and down again into our resting point in Great Broughton.

Day 3: The Day of Short Awful Hills

57km - 1206m ascent

Our shortest day by a long way but in many ways the toughest one. The route was up and down to the extreme – you are either climbing or descending the route profile below shows the trauma of the last day.

Some spectacular countryside over the barren north york moors before dropping down into Robin Hoods Bay for the glorious finish. And a glorious finish it was, a quick dip in the roaring north sea before munching through fish n chips.

Final Thoughts

Much harder than expected, a real adventure with lots of unknowns and having to deal with problems and tired bodies. But a rewarding one, crossing a fine and varied stretch of the country and immensely satisfying to complete a journey from sea to sea.

Wildbase returns to the hills, The Surrey Hills to be precise on the 7th November. Find out more here.


© 2020 WildBase