Whitehaven itself is classified as a Gem Town: it's the most complete example of a planned Georgian town in Europe, with plenty of beautiful architecture to take in upon your arrival. Cleator Moor's memorial sculptures are well-worth a look, while Whinlatter Forest Park offers outdoor activities and plenty of information about the local wildlife.
|© B Campbell|
Keswick, meanwhile, is the largest tourist hub in the northern Lake District, and has plenty to see and do: if you want a sneak peek along the route, don't forget to try the panoramic viewfinder at the top of Crosthwaite Church. Long Meg and her Daughters is accessible via a short detour out of Little Salkeld. This impressive stone circle is 60 stones strong.
Nenthead is incredibly welcoming to cyclists, with a community-owned general store, a cycling shop, and an excellent pub and restaurant. The mining history of the region is evident here and even more so in Allenheads, with its heritage centre and an Armstrong hydraulic engine. Considerably older remains stand at Ebchester, where Roman hypocausts can be seen in a museum at Mains Farm.
The largest hub is, of course, at the route's end in Tynemouth. Here in Newcastle you can find famous bridges, various excellent museums, the Tynemouth Priory and Castle and plenty more, including a Roman Fort and the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art.
Flat ground leads out of Whitehaven to gradual climbs and descents past Loweswater. Whinlatter poses the first steeper climb, awarding a pleasant descent to Keswick. The route rises up to Threlkeld and, on the off-road alternative, continues this climb along Old Coach Road all the way to Troutbeck. The on-road route rises and falls less taxingly, with a mild sloping descent through Greystoke all the way to Newton Reigny - the off-road route joins it partway.
The route hits two sharp, steep climbs toward Langwathby and two milder, longer ascents into Renwick, after which it's a long, hard climb to Hartside. The steep descent into Leadgate requires some care, and is followed by further climbs after Garigill and again between Nenthead and Allenheads, including the route's highest point at Black Hill.
All this hard work makes the descent into Allenheads itself exceptionally rewarding. A stop here might be wise: there's a steep ascent ahead before the slope down to Rookhope, which continues down to Stanhope if you take this optional route. If avoiding Stanhope, the route rises rapidly through Rookhope before becoming one long, sloping descent all the way to Tynemouth itself.
- Cycling lanes
- Minor roads
- Disused railway lines
- Off-road tracks
- Cycle paths
|© Kyle Taylor|
Good tarmac roads form the majority of the Coast to Coast, which favours quiet lanes and traffic-free streets, with a few busier sections. An off-road alternative stretches from Threlkeld along the Old Coach Road, but a road-based option is always available.
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