What is the C2C Coast to Coast cycle route?
How long is the C2C? How many days does it take to cycle? Where does the C2C route go? And more…
- The C2C is 136 miles long from Whitehaven on the west coast of England to Sunderland on the east coast
- Most cyclists take 3-4 days to complete the ride, almost always from west to east
- There is an alternative start at Workington and an alternative finish at Tynemouth (passing through Newcastle-upon-Tyne)
- There are testing hills and there is beautiful scenery as the route passes through the Lake District and the Pennines on the way to the North Sea
- It is estimated that up to 15,000 people cycle the route every year, so there can often be a real camaraderie along the way
- There is accommodation along the way, but they do get booked up, so best to book your own accommodation in advance
Have a read of Richard Peace’s blog post: 5 Reasons the C2C is so popular.
The C2C Coast to Coast Cycle Map and Guide Books
There are two C2C Coast to Coast cycle maps and two guide books covering this iconic coast to coast cycle route across the north of England.
We have each of them for sale in our webstore, so if you are looking to buy a C2C map or guide book, you are in the right place. You will also find information on route changes below.
More details below.
The C2C Route
The route is generally done West to East, and this is how the C2C map and guide books work, with start points at Whitehaven and Workington, and end points at Tynemouth and Sunderland.
The Whitehaven branch of the C2C starts gently, before some hills taking you to the edge of the Lake District, with wonderful views of Loweswater and Crummock Water, before arriving at the village of Lorton (nice little shop/tea shop here).
The Workington branch meanders up and down to Cockermouth, before setting off for Lorton (see route alterations below).
There is then a stiff climb to Whinlatter Visitor Centre before dropping to Keswick.
(Note: route alterations in place as a result of the 2015 Cumbrian floods. You can find details if you scroll down on this page.)
After Penrith, the main hills of the route start, as you cross the Pennines. Some of these climbs are a real challenge, and they do come thick and fast!
Then the route drops and finally becomes pretty flat as it heads for the coast and you re-enter towns and cities.
Both the finish to the route in Tynemouth via Newcastle and the route to Sunderland are very good, and the final end points at the North Sea are grand!
It’s about here that you can feel quite proud of your achievement, crossing the width of England, coast to coast, before wondering “What next?”
Off-road sections of the C2C
Off-road alternatives are often available, some of them a bit rugged for standard bikes. Other off-road sections are on converted railway lines, and are really excellent.
Personally I would recommend doing the off-road sections: the views tend to be great. You can take advice on which in one or other of the guide books.
The C2C Coast to Coast Cycle Maps and Guide Books
I would strongly recommend cycling the route with a map. Having lived in Cockermouth, it is not uncommon to come across C2C cyclists without one and looking slightly lost!
While there is generally pretty good signposting along the route, it is not complete and is sometimes confusing. The signposts won’t tell you how far you have to go to your next stop either!
You can buy them singly or as a package of map and guide book.
Published in 2018, this is the most recent of the C2C maps and guide books, and so has the most recent information on route changes (above).
It is printed on waterproof paper and comes in a plastic wallet. The mapping is clear and helpful.
Footprint also publish the Reivers Route cycle map, and so do have a history of making good cycling maps.
Currently out of print. The Footprint map or either of the guide books below are very good alternatives.
The Ultimate C2C Guide – Coast to Coast by Bike, published by Excellent Books, written by Richard Peace
Richard’s guide book has introductory sections including:
- The Route
- Route surface and signage
- How long should I take?
- When should I go?
- Supported or unsupported
- Riding information and advice
- Travel information
There are then separate sections on each part of the route, eg Whitehave – Keswick, each containing:
- Route info
- Height chart
- What to see and do
- Where to stay
- Colour photos
Jeremy’s guide has introductory notes on:
- Why do it
- Choosing your route
- When to go
- Getting there and getting back
- Planning your itinerary
- Specialist C2C companies
- Where to stay
- Choosing your bike
- What to take
- Food and drink
- What to wear
There are then separate sections on each part of the route, covering:
- Description of route
- Colour photos
You can buy the C2C Coast to Coast Cycle Maps and Guide Books by clicking here. Or put them in the basket below.
Coast to Coast Cycle Map – C2C Sea to Sea Sustrans map£8.99
C2C Cycle Route Ultimate Guide BookProduct on sale
C2C Cycle Route Footprint Map£9.95
C2C Cycle Route Cicerone guide bookProduct on sale
Footprint C2C map and Excellent Books C2C guide bookProduct on sale
English AND Scottish C2C Guide BooksProduct on sale
C2C Route Alterations
1. The Alternative Route past the destroyed bridges between Keswick and Threlkeld
You may have read the the C2C bridges near Keswick were destroyed in the 2015 floods. They were and it will be some time (possibly years) before they are back in place. There is an alternative route though.
To take the ‘alternative’ C2C route, leave Keswick in the usual way along the old railway line route. In about half a mile you will come to a fork – see below. Take the right fork up a slight hill, rather than the left fork which is the standard C2C route.Take the right fork to avoid the closed old railway line route ahead.
If you have gone wrong, you will be able to tell, because instantly the standard C2C route becomes very rough and rubbly – almost as if it was part of the river.
If you have taken the correct route, you come very quickly to a small gate on to the main road. Go through and – VERY CAREFULLY – cross the road in order to cycle up the hill – or walk on the pavement if you prefer. It can be a very busy road.
You will see a sign on the right hand side of the road showing a small red 71 and ‘via Castlerigg Stone Circle‘, showing that you are on the alternative C2C route.
Take the left turn and almost immediately you will see a turn on the right. Take that and you are on your way to the Stone Circle, and the alternative route to Threlkeld.
2. No route through Wythop Woods
Only the Footprint C2C map is recent enough to show the route from Cockermouth to Lorton that avoids the now closed Wythop Woods route, which was part of the Workington to Keswick start.
Signposts on the ground are a little confusing, but guide you by small lanes from Cockermouth to Lorton to join the Whitehaven start as it climbs over Whinlatter pass.
You can also read more about the route at The Guardian newspaper’s website
And then there is that “What next?” question…
Coast and Castles South Map from SustransProduct on sale
Hadrians Cycleway Sustrans MapProduct on sale
Lochs & Glens South Sustrans cycle map£9.99
Pennine Cycleway North Sustrans Map£8.99
Pennine Cycleway South Sustrans Map£9.99
Reivers Route cycle mapProduct on sale
The Ultimate Scottish C2C Guide, from Excellent BooksProduct on sale
Trans Pennine Trail Guide BookProduct on sale
Way of the Roses Sustrans cycle mapProduct on sale