Tag Archives: leisure cycling holiday c2c

Customer Story: C2C, a long way up!

Juliet England joined us on the 130+ mile bike ride from Whitehaven to Tynemouth – the classic coast-to-coast route. She hasn’t been on a bike in years. What could possibly go wrong?

Day 1 – Whitehaven to Threlkeld – 36 miles
Riders setting off on coast-to-coast rides traditionally dunk their front wheels in the sea at the start and finish points, a symbolic baptism.

At Whitehaven at the start of the odyssey to Tynemouth, the sea slops at the bottom of a greasy concrete slope, and we’re warned that the ‘wheel-dipping’ isn’t really necessary, but I insist on going down to the edge, where I slither in up to my ankles. I have to be hauled to safety, a not inconsiderable operation, and it makes for a soggy pedal-off. Still, in the words of the local newspaper cliché, this unscheduled christening doesn’t dampen my spirits.

This is the big one. The C2C, the sea to sea. We’ll tack our way from west to east, and ever northwards, the sun and wind at our backs, from the Irish Sea to the North one, across the nation’s backbone, mainly following National Cycle Routes 71 and 72.

Then there’s the bike fitting and induction from the Saddle Skedaddle guiding team of Les, Jayne, Francis and Dave. They’re passionate, borderline-obsessive bikeheads to a man (and woman) – the essential deal being that they’ll do everything bar actually turning the pedals for you. Even then, if you asked nicely enough…

Day 2 – Threlkeld to Alston – 38 miles
I’m pedalling (I use the term loosely) with Jayne the guide, and the climb is rewarded with a stupendous view over Penrith. Jayne does an excellent job of ensuring I’m safe, even if I do have to stop her from giving me a backie.

By lunchtime on the green at the splendidly named village of Langwathby, we’ve done some 19 miles. Chillingly, the guidebook warns that this is the last place to “kick back before the serious stuff kicks in.” Right. So what we’ve done before hasn’t been serious?

Unfortunately, it’s no word of a lie. How to convey the full horror of the Hartside ascent? It’s a monster of a mountain, an insult of an incline, a hellish hill. Such stuff as recurring nightmares are made of. For the last 24 hours, it has been whispered of in our group with fear and awe.

At the bottom, Les, the head guide, says this climb has made grown cyclists weep. Some have had to push their bikes up all the way; others have had to be conveyed to the summit in the van.

“Sloooooow and steady,” offers Les in his Tyneside tones.

Suddenly, somehow, I’ve done it, and I’m propping the bike up outside England’s highest café (1903m) before stumbling in, beetroot-faced. My legs buckle beneath me as I fall into a chair, hyperventilating. Someone pushes a mug of tea in front of me. I am so disorientated with exhaustion that I don’t even ask about the cakes. That’s how serious it is.

Day 3 – Alston to Stanhope – 24 miles
Today’s shorter mileage doesn’t mean much, since, in terms of hills, this is one of the hardest days, reaching the ride’s highest points. Alston is still pretty high above sea level – some 1,000 feet or so, high up in the North Pennines.

Luckily, this day includes my favourite accommodation of the trip. A former stationmaster’s house, it was bought derelict by Lorraine and Terry Turnbull, who have turned it into a haven for cyclists. Stunning views, a hot bath, even a gluten-free steak pie, for goodness sake. What more could a weary biker demand?

“Smashed it!” I say punching the air as Les arrives, grinning at my words, while I sit in the front room enjoying a restorative brew.

Day 4 – Stanhope to Tynemouth  – 37 Miles
On our last day, before we know it, we’re in the urban centre of Gateshead and pedalling over the Millennium Bridge in the shadow of the Baltic Arts Centre to The Cycle Hub, Saddle Skedaddle’s HQ and temple to all things bike-related.

We practically float the last few miles through what was once a thriving ship building area, past Wallsend until, finally, we’re shooting along the sea front at Tynemouth.

On the train home, there’s time to reflect the last few cobweb-blasting days. All the hard work has been worth it. The coast to coast thing offers a real focus, a reason to keep going until you next see sea. I would have benefited from more training (er, I would have benefited from any proper training…). But, truly, it’s been totally brilliant, and, if I can do it, anyone can. You might just have to get off and push.

Feeling like taking on a C2C challenge? We have a fantastic selection of supported and self-guided coast to coast cycling holidays in the UK. There’s nothing like the sense of achievement when you finish a coast to coast ride!

Take on the C2C Challenge

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The ‘must do’ cycling holiday with its quiet country lanes, cycleways and paths is a wonderful way to see the varied and beautiful landscapes of northern England. If you’ve not taken up this classic UK challenge, it’s time you took the plunge…

Having watched the pros battle their way up the infamous Hartside Pass last year during the Tour of Britain route, it’s safe to say the C2C is not without its fair share of challenges. Fear not though, we don’t expect you to attempt a sprint finish up this steep section of road, we’ll leave that to the leaner, meaner riding machines in search of their racing jerseys.

Whether you’re cycling for a cause with the nearest and dearest, are a lycra-clad roadie looking to hit some hills, or are part of a group of fun-loving lads or lasses on the look out for your next adventure together, the C2C is a cycling journey that appeals to everyone looking for an exciting challenge in the UK.

Whitehaven to Tynemouth

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With over 15,000 people taking on this route each year, it’s no surprise the C2C is one of the countries most popular long distance journeys! Covering 140 miles, your journey begins in the port town of Whitehaven, Cumbria before finishing on the picturesque shores of Tynemouth. In between you’ll pass through the dramatic solitude of the northern Lake District, enjoy the verdant Eden Valley and climb up into the Pennines, also known as the ‘roof of England’, where you’ll experience sensational panoramic views that make the climbing worthwhile! From here you’ll then explore historic mining villages and make your way along old railway lines before heading to the bright lights of Newcastle (our beloved home) and onto the coast.

Best ridden from West to East, you’ll take advantage of longer downhill sections and prevailing winds to help you along the way. Don’t forget to dip your back tyre into the Irish Sea before you start and your front in the North Sea once you’ve completed your journey – it’s a C2C tradition!

Sustrans

Our favourite route wouldn’t be so without the invaluable support of pioneering cycling lovers Sustrans who first set up the C2C cycleway in 1994. Now part of the treasured National Cycle Network, we’re proud to help support this fantastic cause. We regularly run special fundraising trips in partnership with Sustrans, helping to raise funds for the upkeep of this route.

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We’ve been running C2C holidays for over 17 years and know all the ingredients that contribute to making this journey the best it can possibly be. Having sourced the best local accommodation, provided experienced guides for those looking for a bit of support and lost count of the amount of bags we’ve helped transport along the way, we’re certain there’s no better way to tackle the C2C than the Skedaddle way!

Worried about the hills? Fear not, our great range of C2C options means there’s a little something for every cyclist to give a go. From a shorter 2 day version for those looking to blast their way across the route, to lengthier tours for those wanting to take it a little easier along the way. If you feel you’re in need of some on hand support, we recommend taking on one of our supported tours where there’s a vehicle on hand which you can jump in to catch your breath.

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Feedback

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With thousands of customers having come to us over the years, we caught up with a few of our past Coast to Coast Skedaddlers to find out what they thought of their experience:

The service was top notch throughout. The accommodation supplied excellent breakfasts even for vegetarians. The lunches and snacks supplied during our rides were top notch, in the evening we chose to eat at our accommodation and every night we had brilliant meals with a great choice.

Every day was a favourite day and a new experience thanks to our group leader who told us what was coming (such as another hill) but in a nice way so we were not shaking in our boots!! Our guide was helpful at all times and always accommodated our every needs. We are already looking for our next holiday… Julie, Norwich

We had considered booking a self guided trip but it was well worth spending a little bit more to do the supported trip. Not having to worry about carrying food and drink, having regular meet ups with our cycling guide to make sure we were going the right way, and of course the option of hopping on the bus when it all got a bit too much!

Our guide was a cheerful presence whenever we needed him, put together some great lunches, and went above and beyond. All 4 days were so different that it’s hard to pick a favourite. Day 1 was good getting to know our fellow cyclists, and it was definitely a great moment reaching the finish line on the final day, but there was amazing scenery on all four days. Catherine, Angus

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All for a good cause…

Owing to the challenges on offer, the C2C route often sees a lot of cyclists take to two wheels for a cause very close to their hearts. We’ve seen lots join us for different reasons over the years and these heartwarming stories help keep us smiling. Alistair White and his mum Marion are two such Skedaddlers who recently took up the challenge for a very special cause of their own, click here to read more about their journey.

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Highlights along the way…

  • Consett Sculptures (part of the Sunderland Sculpture trail)
  • Conquering the legendary Hartside Pass
  • Cycle cafe pit-stops: Cycle HUB & Greystoke Cafe
  • Discovering beautiful, un-spoilt landscapes

Feeling inspired? If you’re looking for a challenge in 2016 you can’t go wrong with this fantastic UK trip. Click here for a full list of tours to find the perfect cycling holiday option to suit you. 

Dad’s Army: A Very Memorable Coast to Coast!

Alistair White and his mum Marion recently took on the challenging Coast to Coast cycling journey in memory of their late father, who sadly passed away before taking on the journey himself. Their tale is a heart warming read and another great example of this endearing and iconic ride which holds a very special place in many peoples hearts! Here’s how they got on taking on the C2C:

Our Coast to Coast trip is challenging enough without the added one of our most popular trips and its always lovely to hear all the different reasons people take part in this challenging cycling journey. Like many other cyclists before, Alistair White was riding the Coast to Coast with his mum in memory of his Dad, who sadly passed away a couple of years ago.

To celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary, my mum and dad, had planned to ride the Sea to Sea cycle route from Whitehaven to Newcastle, not the most obvious way of celebrating admittedly, but they were always a bit weird like that. Sadly, my dad died of a brain tumour in November 2012 so my mum and I decided to ride the route in his memory. We felt that completing a challenge that we know he would have loved was the best way to remember a wonderful husband and father. We also hoped that by completing the ride we could raise money for The Brain Tumour Charity.

Preparations didn’t go particularly well in that both my mum and my bikes went in for a service a week before departure and were ‘put down’ by the mechanic. My mum managed to buy a new bike while I decided that fate had dictated that I take my dad’s old bike.

After a night in lovely and very friendly Newcastle we were ready to go. The trip over to Whitehaven gave us chance to meet our fellow c2crs and survey the numerous hills we would shortly be tackling. Coming from Norfolk, a number of these looked unnaturally big! After dipping our wheels we set off. To be honest the first few miles of the route were fairly unspectacular but this was soon forgiven as we soon found ourselves in beautiful countryside and approaching the Lake District. The weather was very kind to us and the ride around the lakes was fantastic. However, it soon became clear from the grinding coming from the cassette that my dad’s bike had probably seen better days. We enjoyed a well earned break at the forest cafe and one of the many mtb trails there before making our way through to Keswick and on to our first stop at Threkold.

We enjoyed some well earned beers and good food at the Horse and Farrier. This also gave us chance to get to know the other c2crs and share our experiences of the day. There was Lorraine and Kevin celebrating their 1st anniversary of cycling together. Nick and his friend Rich, a 20 a day smoker who had allowed Nick to talk him into the trip after a few too many pints in the pub one night, and Kevin who was helping his son, Oli celebrate finishing his GCSEs.

The following day was set to be our longest and hardest with the climb of Hartside at the end, but we decided to add a little off road before we started via the Old Coach Road. A couple of showers didn’t spoil the beautiful countryside and beyond the odd kamikaze sheep we made good progress to Greystoke where we enjoyed some delicious flapjacks at the cycle cafe before making our way through Penrith. Approaching Hartside my dad’s old bike was getting worse. Instead of 27 gears perfectly refined for every possible gradient I was now down to 6, each with their own distinctive grinding and clattering noise. This made the climb a bit harder but the view from the summit and more flapjacks from the cafe definitely made it worth it. With Hartside conquered we were rewarded with a fantastic long descent into Alston for our second stop. During the descent the normal mother-son dynamic seemed to flip on its head with me regularly pleading with her to be careful and slow down!

We enjoyed more good food and medicinal beers at Alston and again it was great to share stories with our fellow c2crs. Steve was particularly proud of having conquered the climbs given his smoking habit. He really enjoyed the descent and reckoned he could have lit a cigarette on his brake disk having by the end. Super- fit Kevin seemed to be finding it quite easy and had even pushed Oli up some of the final climb.

We set off the following day with perfect weather and countryside views to match. The off road section to Allenheads, past forest, waterfalls and disused mines was particularly enjoyable We had expected a slightly easier day but some of the climbs were quite tough. This was made worse during one particularly hard climb by my mum, having consulted her Garmin shouting, ‘We’re a quarter of the way up’, personally I’d rather not have known! We thought we’d make up for the climbs with a good lunch at Rookhope. Unfortunately the pub was closed, as was the shop and the other pub we were directed to. This did however, allow us to enjoy and extra few miles of beautiful countryside. The food situation was made worse by the fact that I had discovered the full pack of fig rolls my mum had smuggled inside my pack that morning and refused to carry them anymore. Hungry, we pushed on to Parkhead Station, encountering a man walking a fox on a lead in the middle of a grouse moor on our way!

We arrived at the remote but beautiful Parkhead Station and enjoyed some much needed cake. The Station is run by Lorraine, who keeps a very tight ship. She reminded me of a very strict Head Mistress but was extremely hospitable and the food was again excellent.

The final day was much easier than the previous two as it was generally downhill! There was still time for the inevitable technology malfunctions and the odd Garmin malfunction to the point where we both cycled straight past the great big sign that announced the finish of the route! We carried on to dip our wheels where we joined by Nick and Rich. Having posed for the inevitable photos, including one of me looking embarrassed as my mum insisted on a high five, we enjoyed some excellent fish and chips and a celebratory beer. My mum, not content with having completed the route then insisted we cycle back to Newcastle. Journey over we enjoyed a final night in Newcastle.

Overall it was a fantastic trip. The organisation and support from saddle skedaddle could not be faulted, every contact we had with them was professional, helpful and extremely friendly. The accommodation throughout was great and we managed to raise over £2500 for The Brain Tumour Charity. My dad would have been proud.

A fantastic story for a great cause! If you’re feeling inspired by Alistair and Marian’s tale and would like to take on the Coast to Coast for a similar cause or just fancy the challenge why not take a look at our range of C2C leisure cycling holidays in full by clicking here