This six day self-guided Coast to Coast Cycling holiday takes you along the C2C (or Sea to Sea) cycling route, which is slightly different to the Coast to Coast Walking Trail, but following nearby and similarly magnificent landscapes. Start in the west, at the harbour of Whitehaven on the Irish Sea, and finish at Tynemouth on England’s east coast, cycling a total of 220km in total, through the extraordinary the Lake District, Pennines and Yorkshire Dales, with many picture postcard rural towns and villages en route. There are some hills to contend with but also some of the country’s finest views.
There’s also tradition of dipping your back wheel in the Irish Sea on day one of your Coast to Coast Cycling holiday and and your front wheel in the North Sea on the last day!
- Cycle across England from the Irish to North Sea
- The Lake District
- The Pennines
- The vibrant city of Newcastle, industrial heritage, lead mines and the River Tyne
- The castle at Tynemouth
Click to view map
Day 1: Arrive Whitehaven
Make your own way to Whitehaven. This is a pleasant, blustery Georgian seaside town, with an attractive harbour and remains of pit wheels and shafts from its mining past. The town was designed in a grid-like fashion, a way that was soon to be adopted across North America. It is also the only place in the UK that has been attacked by the USA in 1778. There is an interesting harbourside museum, and you can visit the church where George Washington’s grandmother is buried. If you are hiring bikes, you need to collect them on the morning of day two (except on Sundays).
- Accommodation: Glenfield House (Whitehaven) or similar
Day 2: Whitehaven to Keswick | 50km
Today, having dipped your wheel in the sea, the ride rolls out gently for the first few miles along the former Ennerdale Railway Line. Leaving this, you approach the Lake District with views over Ennerdale Water and then you pedal around Loweswater. The big hill of the day is up over Whinlatter Pass (318m) and, shortly after the top, there are views over Keswick and to the peak of Skiddaw. It is then a fast and undulating descent and ride into one of the most popular towns in Cumbria: Keswick. An old cheese town, with a market charter going back to the 1200s. From those days the town grew wealthy from local mining, from the popularity of Lakeland poets and writers and finally from the coming of the railways and the growth of popular tourism in the Lakes. There are plentiful shops, pubs and restaurants. Keswick is a town that nestles beneath giant Skiddaw by the shores of Derwentwater.
- Cycling for the day: 50km
- Accommodation: Glendale Guest House (Keswick) or similar
Day 3: Keswick to Alston | 75km
The hardest but perhaps most picturesque day. A steep climb out of Keswick takes you to the famous ancient stone circle, which bestrides a hillside reflecting the contours of the surrounding mountains. Descending to cross the River Greta, you wheel through pretty Threlkeld Village before a quiet road takes you on a loop round the hamlet of Mungrisdale, which, at intervals, offers beautiful views of the northern Lake District. Next is a long traverse of the Vale of Eden, starting with a visit to the ‘Green Village’ of Greystoke and then on to historic Penrith. The afternoon is punctuated by a number of steep climbs, culminating in the longest ascent of the trip up to Hartside Summit (580m), which is also the watershed between the Irish and North Seas. Here you enter the Pennines, a great viewpoint from the summit over the Vale of Eden and there is a convenient café stop, before a fast ride down into the traditional market town of Alston.
- Cycling for the day: 75km
- Accommodation: Alston House (Alston) or similar
Day 4: Alston to Stanhope | 36km
Ascend out of Alston and into the region of old lead mines through the village of Nenthead. There is a steep climb out of the village until you reach Black Hill, the highest point on the C2C, leaving Cumbria for Northumbria. You then descend into the valley of the River East Allen and through the village of Allenheads with its heritage centre and coffee shop. There are also interesting Victorian pumps, especially the Armstrong steam pump that was used for clearing water out of the lead mines in the area. From here, there is a steady climb out of Allenheads until you reach the summit of the hill at Currick, entering County Durham and riding with the sound of the Curlew. This is followed by a long descent into the Rookhope Valley. Scars (or hushes) from centuries of lead mining are evident in the valley. Another climb takes you along the ridge of a hill before descending into the small pretty town of Stanhope, which has a fossilised tree stump in its churchyard, and a range of attractive local shops.
- Cycling for the day: 36.1km
- Accommodation: Red Lodge (Stanhope) or similar
Day 5: Stanhope to Tynemouth | 67km
The ride up out of Stanhope is the steepest, but not the longest ascent of the C2C, and it runs parallel to where train engines were once steam hauled up the incline. At the top you could have a quick coffee at Parkhead Station before making your way for a good 19km on generally flat or downhill terrain along the Waskerley Way, a reclaimed railway path. You will cross the Hownsgill Viaduct, and then continue on, bypassing Consett and joining another former railway cycle path along the Derwent Valley, with some beautiful views over the Durham countryside. The route crosses the River Tyne and turns towards Newcastle, soon passing under its different bridges, including the famous Tyne Bridge, which was built by the same company who built the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The Tyne is now wide looking across to Gateshead and, by the Millennium Bridge, is a great dedicated bicycle café. The ride progresses out of the suburbs, passing Wallsend, where Hadrian’s Wall ends, or begins! On the final run, you pass docklands and new marinas to reach the bay near Tynemouth. You can dip your wheel in the sea here, because where you finish at the castle and Abbey is high above the water! There is a pub right at the end where you leave your hire bikes and celebrate your completion of the famous C2C.
- Cycling for the day: 67.5km
- Accommodation: 61 Guest House (Tynemouth) or similar
Day 6: Departure
Departure or extra nights upon request.
What to expect
Accommodation on this tour includes a mix of small, locally-owned hotels, B&Bs and traditional guesthouses. They have been carefully selected based on a variety of criteria including their location, warm hospitality, fine local food or commitment to responsible tourism. All rooms have en-suite or private bathrooms.
Click to view default hotels
- Glenfield House (Whitehaven), Glendale Guest House (Keswick), 61 Guest House (Tynemouth), Red Lodge (Stanhope), Alston House (Alston)
*Hotels are subject to availability. In case a particular hotel is fully booked for your desired dates, we will replace it with a hotel of equal or higher value and quality level. We will provide exact accommodation details to you upon booking confirmation.
Breakfast is included on all days. When no restaurant location is available on the route, lunches and snacks should either be bought from local shops, or packed lunch can be pre-ordered from your hotel the night before. You can have dinner at the guesthouse you are staying at or at the village pubs and restaurants.
Difficulty & terrain
Some long steep hills especially across the Pennines. Most cyclists of average ability should be able to complete the route especially as the cycling days do not exceed approx 75km. The terrain is 44.6% traffic-free | 83.8% asphalt, 14.3% unsealed firm, 1.8% unsealed loose (read more about difficulty grades). The trail follows well-maintained footpaths, bridleways, open fields and some minor roads. The trail is waymarked only sporadically. A comprehensive guidebook and map are supplied. You can also call our 24/7 local assistance phone number anytime. More detailed info on route navigation will be included in your holiday information pack.
When to go
This trip is available from March until October.
The flexibility of self-guided holidays means that there are no fixed dates, and you can start your trip on any date during the season. If you are a seasoned and well-equipped hiker, we can eventually book you on off-season dates.
Up-to-date travel advice on the United Kingdom is available here (for Canadian citizens) and here (for US citizens).
Click to view travel options
Our recommended airports for this tour are Newcastle upon Tyne (NCL) and Manchester (MAN).
By train or bus
- Whitehaven train station is close to the harbour and your accommodation. Easy accessible from Newcastle by train via Carlisle. For more information, check the Traveline website or use the Omio planner above.
- From Tynemouth, take the metro train to Newcastle Central Station to join the national rail network.
- 5 nights in twin/double rooms with an en-suite or private bathroom (small hotels, B&Bs and guesthouses)
- 5 breakfasts
- Detailed journey documentation and practical information: route notes and GPX tracks
- Luggage transfers from hotel to hotel – 1 piece up to 20kg per bag
- 24/7 phone assistance by our local office/representative
- Airfare and connecting land transfers
- Lunches, dinners, drinks and snacks
- Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
- Personal expenses
- Local tourist taxes and entry fees (payable on-site)
- Any items not explicitly listed as included
Options, extras & supplements
- A supplement applies to members of a group who require a single room
- This holiday is available for solo travellers; a supplement will be charged as accommodation and luggage transfer costs are not shared (we never mix and match – solo travellers will be accommodated in single rooms)
- Extra nights along the trail are bookable upon request
- Hybrid bike – 24 gears women’s or men’s lightweight day bikes, perfect for exploring the area.
- E-bike – comfort e-bike that exudes elegance, has sufficient power, is easy to operate and at the same time ensures a relaxed riding experience.