The UK's most popular challenge cycle route. Discover the Sea to Sea cycle route, travelling 136 miles between the Irish Sea and the North Sea, from Cumbria to Tyneside, passing through the northern Lake District before climbing the Pennines and descending to the railway paths of County Durham.
From - To: Whitehaven or Workington to Newcastle or Sunderland (Irish Sea off Cumbrian Coast to North Sea off Northumbrian Coast)
Distance: 136 miles, of which 79 are traffic-free
Terrain: Minor roads, disused railway lines, off-road tracks and specially constructed cycle paths
National Cycle Network: Route 7, Route 14 and Route 71
Please note: One of the bridges on this route at Keswick has been washed away in Storm Desmond on 6 December 2015. We are working to put in place a diversion but we advise not using this section of the route at the moment. For more information on road closures please visit Cumbria County Council's website.
Whitehaven to Keswick
The C2C starts at Whitehaven; an old seaport on the west coast of Cumbria. The first ten miles follow a well made surfaced path. Quiet lanes follow as the route passes through some of the countries most beautiful scenery.
Kirkland and Lamplugh reveal the proximity of the Lakes mountains and on the steep descent from Fangs Brow to Loweswater there is a good view of Mellbreaks ahead. The Whinlatter Pass is the first major climb ending in a fine descent on forest roads to Bass Lake and Keswick.
Keswick to Langwathby
The next section takes the route on to Langwathby in the Eden Valley and has contrasting views and riding surfaces. Alternate routes exist here, with the hardest one crossing Matterdale Common on the Old Coach Road to Greystoke, Blencow and the town of Penrith, reaching Langwathby on the Eden. At this point a third of the ride is now complete, leaving behind the hills of the Lakes, with the Pennine crossing to come.
Langwathby to Allenheads
The most mountainous part of the route with four major climbs in 20 miles. The first encountered and steepest is Hartside at 580 metres; this is the watershed between the Irish Sea and the North Sea. It’s not all downhill from here. After Hartside, the route passes near Alston, reaching Garrigill and the old lead mining areas at Nenthead and Allenheads, reaching the highest part of the C2C at 609 metres on Black Hill.
Allenheads to Stanley
This section marks the end of the rough hilly terrain of the North Pennines and the start of the industrial landscape of the North East.
The Western section of the coastal path from Whitehaven to Rowrah, Workington to Seaton, Siddick and Broughton Moor is a former railway track which once hauled iron ore trains between the mines at Knockmurton and Kelton and ironworks at Workington, Cleator and Distington.
The path, which local people call Tracks of the Ironmasters, includes a number of historic bridges and remnants of the path’s past, such as a rock crusher and railway signal. The route is also special for wildlife.
Where do I start? The route is best ridden from west to east to take advantage of the prevailing winds. The gradients are kinder this way round too, with longer downhill and shorter uphill sections.
Don't forget to follow tradition. 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.
Which bike? All bikes are suitable to tackle the C2C. There are off-road sections along the route, but you always have the option of taking the surfaced alternative.
Get a helping hand. There are lots of companies who provide supported cycle rides if you don't want to carry all your equipment, we recommend Saddle Skedaddle.
Take in the artwork. We commissioned some public artworks for this route, including Tony Cragg's 'Terris Novalis' and four steel cows by Sally Matthews at Consett.
This full-colour map based on Ordnance Survey data shows clearly mapped cycle routes on traffic-free paths, quiet lanes and roads, with easy to read contours and route profiles. Also features detailed inset maps for the major towns and cities.
You can sponsor a mile on the Sea to Sea for yourself or as a gift to help us maintain the National Cycle Network.