- To-From: Whitehaven or Workington to Newcastle or Sunderland (Irish Sea off Cumbrian Coast to North Sea off Northumbrian Coast). Map includes Penrith-Carlisle Link to Scottish route.
- Distance: 136 miles. Map shows 202 miles of route, of which 79 are traffic-free.
- Terrain: Minor roads, disused railway lines, off-road tracks and specially constructed cycle paths
- Categorisation: Challenging
- National Cycle Network: Route 7, 14 and 71
This route was developed by Sustrans and partners and opened in 1994. Often considered to be the UK's most popular 'challenge' cycle route, it travels between the Irish Sea and the North Sea, from Cumbria to Tyneside.
Starting in Whitehaven or Workington, and finishing in Sunderland, Wearside or Tynemouth, the route passes through the northern Lake District and travels to the pretty town of Keswick. From here it heads to Penrith and the Eden Valley before climbing the Pennines, known 'the roof of England'. Taking you through old mining towns, the route descends to the railway paths of County Durham. It includes Black Hill, the highest point on the National Cycle Network (609m) and the Consett-Sunderland railway path and sculpture trail.
The route follows:
- National Route 71 between Whitehaven or Workington and Penrith
- National Route 7 between Penrith, Consett and Sunderland OR
- National Route 14 between Consett and Tynemouth
The route is best ridden from West to East to take advantage of the prevailing winds and also the gradients are kinder this way round, with longer downhill sections and shorter uphills. Most riders follow the tradition of dipping their back wheel in the Irish Sea at the start of the journey and their front wheel in the North Sea when they finish.
All bikes are suitable to tackle the C2C. Along the route where there are off-road sections, but you always have the option of taking the surfaced alternative.
There are lots of companies who provide supported cycle rides if you don't want to carry all your equipment, we recommend Saddle Skedaddle.
Artwork on the route
Sustrans has commissioned a number of public artworks for the route, including Tony Cragg's 'Terris Novalis' and four steel cows by Sally Matthews at Consett.
The UK's most popular challenge cycle route passing through the northern Lake District before climbing the Pennines, and descending to the railway paths of County Durham.