14 Whitehaven to Whitby Other

Maps 89 & 90 – C2C revisited

Whitehaven harbour

The C2C is rightly one of this country’s best know and most impressive long distance bike rides. There are a couple of possible start and end points, and various off-road options; but the route I have always followed in at least three previous rides is Whitehaven (on the coast of Cumbria) to Sunderland (at the mouth of the River Wear). Or vice-versa, on the occasion many years ago that my close friend Simon, me and my cousin Lex did all 136 miles, from one coast to the other, in a single day on mountain bikes to raise money for UNICEF. That reversal of direction was due to an unusual change in the wind. But I haven’t revisited the route – or Whitehaven – for a very long time. It really isn’t on the way to anywhere and it takes some reaching.

Explanatory C2C mural in Penrith

Today, however, I had the chance to ride the Lake District section of the ride from Whitehaven (in map 89) to my cousin Lex’s house, just short of Penrith; covering about 40 of the best C2C miles (NB I couldn’t continue on the C2C beyond Penrith because it would take me back too far north onto previous maps). Not only that; but I was able to enjoy cycling company in the shape of my wonderful hosts, Tim and Penny, who also drove me all the way out to Whitehaven harbour, the official starting point. Which was really very kind of them indeed.

Whitehaven has a very impressive harbour and it feels like a proper place to start or finish a big journey across the country. It sits in a natural bowl and has been spruced up in recent years to make it worth the trip in its own right. It includes a large marina for sailing boats, as well as some more traditional fishing activity, and there is a lot of public art and a museum, amongst other attractions. It works.


You follow a series of well signed bike paths onto old railway lines in this former coal mining area, and for the first ten miles or so you barely touch a road. Then you magically emerge in the Lakeland fells near Ennerdale and skirt the edge of Loweswater, with dramatic views towards Buttermere, until you reach the pretty village of Lorton. Then you face a stern test to get up the Whinlatter Pass, at the top of which is a Forestry Commission visitor centre with a really nice terrace cafe that looks down towards Keswick. And there we had lunch, which in my case took place alongside an interview about my trip. I wasn’t expecting that; but Tim used to work here (he and Penny are both big in forestry) and he seemed to know all of the staff, so one thing led to another. I had to sign image consent forms and answer all sorts of questions. It is the first time I have been referred to in writing as a model! I don’t know what will come of it. Maybe I will be in Forestry Monthly.

Tim climbing slowly up the steeper part of Whinlatter Pass from Lorton

You get an amazing descent down the pass to Keswick and then some very enjoyable cycling along the old railway line for several miles to Threlkeld, which sits hard up against the flanks of the wonderful Blencathra mountain. Lex lives just a little further on from there, so it was a relatively moderate day’s ride. For me. Tim was running out of steam by the end. But we both made it and Penny was waiting. She is also one of Lex’s physio customers and has a current injury that restricted her cycling, so she had gone back for the car before the hills kicked in. I said goodbye and thank you. Such lovely people. I didn’t know them at all 3 days earlier. Now they felt like old friends.

And so after a meal shared with three generations of my close relatives, another busy and very rewarding day came to a close. I don’t expect them all to be quite like this. That would be unrealistic. But it has been quite a family fest in the last few days, not to mention the making of new friends. As I traverse the country, there are valuable opportunities to connect and reconnect with people and places. Long may this continue as I carry on along this wonderful escape I am having from normal daily life!


2 replies on “Maps 89 & 90 – C2C revisited”

Comments are closed.