Most cyclists will probably have heard of the Sea to Sea Cycle Route from Whitehaven or Workington to Sunderland or Tynemouth. Arguably, the most scenic yet strenuous cycle route in England, we could not resist giving it our best shot.
Last Thursday, our starting point was Workington nestled on the Irish Sea. Having arrived by train in the afternoon, we opted for a leisurely 10 mile ride to Cockermouth. Even this short trip gave us a taste of things to come as the rolling route was certainly more demanding than the flatter rides we usually take. Cockermouth was a pleasant surprise. Being the home of my great grandfather due to his industrial work, I’d imagined a dreary decaying town. Far from it! It is a delightful place with steeped in history with many interesting tourist attractions. We also had to admire the regeneration of the town following the devastating flood of 2009. Wanting to avoid costly b&b prices, we had packed our camping gear. So, our first nights camping was at Graysonside, just over a mile outside town on the Lorton Road. It was a very friendly well run site with good clean facilities all for £15.
Luckily, we had a dry yet cool night so we were soon on our way after breakfast heading for Keswick. Most of the 16 mile section was off road or along quiet country lanes. Already, the views are breathtaking especially overlooking Bassenthwaite on the descent towards Keswick. Yes, there are some tough stretches especially for us loaded oldies, but the backdrop is just awe inspiring. The informative staff at the Keswick Tourist Office recommended camping at the Camping & Caravan Club site by Derwent Water. They allow nonmembers and the backpacker walk in fee is £6.40 per person. We cannot recommend this site highly enough. The facilities are first class, the staff friendly and knowledgeable and they even have a backpackers room where you can eat or relax in the event of bad weather. Sadly, we had to use this facility as no sooner than our tent was pitched, the heavens opened.
It rained and rained all night, well this is the Lake District!
Consequently, us and a few others spent most of the morning drying out before packing up. It was after 11am before we set off but we are not concerned as we have allowed plenty of time to cycle the route. As it was, 8 miles out of Keswick, we came across another C&C site at Troutbeck. A much smaller site than Keswick but just as scenic and well run with good facilities. We even had an adjacent table and benches to eat and relax before retiring and all for the same £12.80.
Last night was very cold. I think we wear more to sleep in than we do when on the bikes. I blame it on oldies poor circulation! Thankfully, it was a dry start to the day, so off we went towards Penrith only 12 miles away. It really was a very pleasant ride, not too taxing, reasonable weather and of course the spectacular scenery. Entering Penrith, the first accommodation on the C2C is the Acorn Guesthouse. New owners Karen & Nick Harvey made us feel very welcome. They have an excellent establishment here and we wish them well for the future. They have some great ideas to cater for cyclists and walkers and at £77 b&b it is great value given the accommodation prices in this area.
Some of you may well say that four days in and only 49 miles completed is a pretty poor effort. We think of Alfred Wainwright who wrote and drew about the Lakeland Fells for many years. He also devised the definitive 190 mile Coast to Coast Walk. One of his famous quotes is “some people complete the walk in a week; Why!”