Coast 2 Coast
The C2C stands for coast 2 coast, it’s a national recognised route for walkers and cyclist across the narrowest part of the country. It’s very well signposted and goes from from Whitehaven in the Lake District on the west coast, across the top of the Pennines, through Northumberland, along Hadrians Wall, Durham and Tynemouth, on the east coast. It’s extremely mountainous and scenic.
C2C was my first adventure trip in May 2012. It was a 3 day trip cycling 140 miles from Whitehaven in the Lake District to Tynemouth in Tyne and Wear.
I travelled up by train and I was really nervous, kept thinking, what would the people be like, was I fit enough. The whole thing excited and scared me at the same time.
I arrived at the hotel, there were two girls and five boys, our tour leader was Brian who was from Durham, a warm man in his 60s who was obviously passionate about his homeland. He had been made redundant five years previous and had found his purpose by tour leading cycling trips in the UK and France.
The morning of the first day arrived, and we had to do a ritual where we go to the coast, and dip the back wheel of our bike into the sea, then at the other end, when we were finished on the east coast dip our front wheel into the sea.
It was raining, there were loads of people on the C2C trail, especially groups of men, there were a load of guys in mankinis, it was so funny.
We headed off on our bikes and it soon became evident that I was the slowest, my worst fears were coming true, I didn’t mind being slow and at the back but didn’t want to hold anyone up, but Brian said it doesn’t matter, go at your own pace. It was such a relief to hear that.
We cycled through the Lake District, everyone raced ahead which I didn’t mind now, because I knew that I could take it all in, and stop and take pictures when I liked.
I cycled past Loweswater it was raining hard, but I was in my element in fact in a state of ecstasy, I had finally arrived after a long time fearing the unexpected. The scenery was beautiful, and I knew there and then this was going to be an unforgettable trip.
The first day was a good one, even though I struggled. I arrived at the cafe, where everyone was was already halfway through their lunch, as I turned up everyone cheered, I took off my wet rain mac and joined them for a well earned break.
The first night we stayed in a beautiful castle.
The second day we were warned by Brian that it was going to be gruelling and he wasn’t joking. There were many mountains in the Pennines in excess of 2000 feet, most people were cycling up them. I admit to walking, as they were too long and too far.
I was accompanied at one point by a Tom Cruise look alike who was very pleasant, he had cycled from Newcastle and was meeting his friends in the middle of the Pennines for a party, I was tempted to ask If I could come.
I remember the absolute barren landscape, looking out as far as the eye could see with no one in sight. I had never been so alone physically, but didn’t feel alone at all, I felt connected to the earth in a wondrous way, I was in a state of pure bliss. I also felt very safe.
Brian would drive back in his white van to check if I was ok, if I saw his van coming
That day we cycled 50 miles, when I arrived at the pub where we were staying, I was the last to arrive, Brian greeted me with a hug and said well done. When I got into the pub everyone cheered, and jokingly I laid on the floor in a star shape pretending to be exhausted, and it wasn’t too far from the truth.
The third and last day arrived. we were heading towards Northumberland. I cycled quite a way with a girl I had become friendly with Louise, who I swear could have been Mary Poppin’s daughter, she talked very posh and English and looked like her too, she was lots of fun.
We cycled past raging rivers and waterfalls, it was truly spectacular.
She cycled on ahead, and I had to hunt around a lot for signpost. Towards the end there would be a signpost 10 miles to Tynemouth, then 5 miles on 15 miles to Tynemouth, it seemed to go on forever.
I cycled past the River Tyne, Newcastle and eventually arrived at the final destination Tynemouth, and took my bike down to the sea and dipped the front wheel. I was greeted by my cousin who lives there.
It felt like a huge achievement, very tough going though. I learnt a lot about myself on that first trip, and that is when I need to be, I can be very self reliant, tough and hardy.
The scenery was jaw droppingly spectacular, dramatic, with lakes, mountains and vast barren land. I always say we have the best scenery in the world.
By far this trip is the toughest I have been on, but would not have missed it for the world, because even though I was well out of my comfort zone, I found a part of me that I didn’t know existed,
This is what it’s all about pushing yourself and developing and growing as a person, and finding out who you really are.