A highly recommended cycling trip that has the huge bonus of pedaling one’s self from one sea to another (that’s pretty good for 150ish miles). An attainable goal for anyone who puts their mind (and body) to the task, it is no wonder that coast to coast rides are remarkably popular in England. Some details:
Direction of travel: Start on the west coast at Walney Island and head east, as this will generally put the wind at your back.
Navigation: Map is key as the route is cobbled together using many different types of road/trail, the official one is available from Sustrans. On the road, we also relied heavily on the blue signs for Route 20. Very well signed overall, though you do have to keep an eye out as foliage can obscure/block.
Number of days: We did it in two. We were a group of six 20-35 year old men with athletic backgrounds. One day seems doable but only in the name of epic, and three days would break this down into a very pleasant trip indeed. We camped overnight at Kirkby Stephens.
Support: We transported our bikes to the west coast in a hire van, which then also was driven to the campsite that night to meet us at camp. Luxury, just a day’s worth of gear while riding.
Gear: Road bike was suitable, ran training tires (Continentals with sidewall protection) on a Bontrager Racelite wheelset and had no problems but did ride gingerly on the dirt sections.
Fitness: Listed as “challenging” the terrain is variable enough to keep you working. Lots of stop and go with a group of six due to small hills at regular intervals as well as frequent turns onto/off of road and trail sections. Climb up onto the North Yorkshire Moors has several steep sections, gearing on a road bike carrying a small pack was adequate but there were plenty of pitches where I was pushing my smallest gear and working pretty hard to turn it over. Last couple real hills somewhere after Hamsterley and before Durham pack a punch as well.
Perks: Tons of small villages to cruise through and plenty to see. You could spend years exploring this route. The hedge-lined lanes are a blast to ride through, and the route does a great job keeping you away from traffic.
Plug: If you’re looking for a bike shop, check out Start Cycles up near Newcastle upon Tyne out in North Shields. Just a hop across the Tyne from Sunderland where the coast to coast routes finish. Huge selection, great service, and best yet – their brand More Mile is a partner for Living Exposed.
Oh, don’t forget your cupcakes boys and girls. And yes, the ingredients of this trip are ample for a proper stag-do/bachelor party (pedaling not included).