Just when you thought that it couldn’t get better, it did. We left the wonderful Acorn Guesthouse after a very hearty and tasty breakfast then headed off late morning for the short trip to Langwathby. It was a stiff uphill out of Penrith and the views soon made up for the exertions. Going through Langwathby then Little Selkeld there were more rolling ups and downs. Sadly, Marion Lodge was no longer offering camping so we cycled on towards Kirkoswald and Main Farm.
What a find! Another gem on the trip. For £15 we camped in a lovely private walled garden. The farm has 3 new pods for £30 ideal if the weather is bad. The shower and amenity block in an old stable building is first class and even has fridge, microwave, kettle, toaster and kitchen prep area. The local shop in Kirkoswald provided us with tasty Cumberland sausages for a delightful mash meal on a lovely sunny evening.
The owner pointed out a Myrtle tree tucked into the corner of the campsite. Apparently, Queen Victoria handed out these trees to large households at the time of her wedding. To this day, all Royal brides have Myrtle on their wedding bouquets.
We had only covered 15 miles today, but slow is good when experiencing the fabulous scenery and accommodation. Kirkoswald to Nenthead the next day was a 20 mile delight. It was all uphill to the 1900 feet pass at Hartside and the spectacular sited cafe.
After taking the obligatory photos in the sunshine, it was a dark, dank and misty descent then a tough up and down into Garrigill. We had planned on camping at the village hall but both the local pub and shop were closed giving us no chance of provisions or sustenance. This is not the first time we have passed boarded up local pubs. Something has to be done to prevent the mass closures of inn across the country. Love them or hate them, Wetherspoon’s are leading a campaign for pricing fairness in alcohol taxation but it is a start to try and halt the destruction of our national heritage – the local pub.
Apparently, Nenthead is the highest village in England and has very interesting old lead mines to visit. The open Miners Arms is a cosy friendly pub and next door there is the extremely helpful North Pennine Cycles run by David Reside. If you are looking for some small tweaks to your bike or a major repair, this is the place. David recommended a great b&b just up the hill out of the village. Cherry Cottage run by Helen Sherlock is the ideal place for a C2C break. It was virtually a self contained apartment with lounge, kitchen, 2 bathrooms and downstairs loo. We were the only occupants but the part of the cottage just catered for two couples. Other parts of the property are ideal for larger groups.
We needed the hearty breakfast in order to tackle the steep ascent out of Nenthead and up to Black Hill, the highest point on the National Cycle Network at just over 2000 feet. Today’s 33 mile ride was the toughest of the trip. In addition to Black Hill, there were further tough uphills out of Allenheads, Rookhope and Stanhope. Stanhope in particular was killing. I doubt many pannier cyclists could ride to the top.
Once at the top though, the desolate splendour of the moors sometimes make us feel that we are the only people in the world overrun by hoards of wooly white sheep. At Parkhead, we left the moors for the off road Waskerley Way. Another delightful old railway leisure path. When we ask what did the Victorians did for us, these rails to trails cycleways are surely their legacy. What the old hard working timers would make of all this leisure activity is another debate.
The weather was now pretty foul with cold driving rain. So camping was out of the question for us. Sadly, Consett had no accommodation but we found a superb pub at Shotley Bridge called the Crown & Cross Swords for b&b at £50. Next day, it was a short ascent back to the C2C and the Derwent Walk all the way to Gateshead and over the Tyne into Newcastle via Hadrian’s Way.
Newcastle is such a vibrant city and being a Bank Holiday weekend it was great to see groups of people enjoying the quayside bars and restaurants with the backdrop of the scenic river and bridges. We opted for a couple of nights at the Travelodge Central before heading on to Whitley Bay to end the journey. Even the Travelodge stored our bikes which has been a common theme over the whole trip.
We will be posing at Tynemouth for the destination photographs in the next day or so, but what a wonderful journey the C2C has been. It has been on Jenny’s bucket list for a very long time and it has not disappointed in any way. Yes, we were lucky with the weather, but words are hard to describe such a brilliant route. Hats of to Sustrans! The scenery, the people, the kindness and overall welcome has been heart rendering. Will we do it again? Probably not, but there are so many other routes like Coast & Castles and Hadrian’s Way etc. that we will certainly be back. God bless England.