Coast-to-coast in a day!

After months of planning, worrying and gnashing of teeth, seven souls set off on their bikes from the slipway at Whitehaven. Destination: Whitby beach! So how did it come to this? Here's a step-by-step guide.


We used a Facebook group to discuss and organise most things, with a couple of pub meetups to get to know each other better. The final rider list was Phil (who first came up with the idea), Darren, Andy, Dave, Jamie, Mike and me. We booked a 17-seater van and a couple of hotels, and decided on the route and cafe stops (plus what food & drink to carry in the van). The route could have been as low as 150 miles, and also avoiding the "worst" of the Lake District hills, but that would have meant busy roads and so we opted for the scenic route. I took a route that Dave had found, and tweaked it to avoid the ferry across Windermere lake. The distance was 155 miles, with around 10000 feet of climbing.

A really nice part of the plan was that we would be supported on the ride - so wouldn't have to carry any stuff. Jackie and Deb would be in charge of the van, and Dave's wife Donna would follow in a car.

Getting there

We left Norwich in our minibus around 10:30am on the Saturday, heading around the Fens and up the A1(M) to Yorkshire.

I was keen to make the most of the time in hilly country, so was ejected from the van at Appleby-in-Westmorland (near Penrith) and completed the rest of the journey on back roads through Keswick to Whitehaven. The weather was good, and the brisk westerly headwind was only a slight hindrance.

The evening meal was carefully chosen at a seaside restaurant, barely 100m from the official C2C sign. Perfect weather so far - could it really stay like this all weekend?

Departing Whitehaven

We were up nice and early on Sunday morning, greeted by sun and calm - perfect! After rolling down from the hotel to the seafront we dipped our back wheels in the sea for a photo-op, and just after 6am we set off for Whitby. We hadn't had breakfast yet, so our first stop was to be Eskdale Green for ham rolls, around 19 miles in.

Lake District passes

We knew that Hardknott and Wrynose weren't going to be easy, but as soon as we passed the 30% gradient warning sign the road leapt up and bottom gears were scrambled. Unfortunately for Dave, his chain kept going left and ended up stuck in the spokes, but he sorted that out nice and quick. The climb to Hardknott summit took 15 - 20 minutes, depending on how much walking was involved, and we regrouped to enjoy the stunning views. The weather was still ideal - overcast and mild, and with a westerly tailwind.

Kendal grub

We were keen for a proper stop after all that climbing, so had hot food and drinks at our first scheduled stop in Kendal. It was only 50 miles in, but we'd taken around five hours. At this rate we'd be in Whitby after nightfall - but hopefully the worst of the climbing was behind us, right, so we'd be able to make much better time!

Yorkshire Dales

Well, our hopes for easier riding were soon dashed as we hit 20% gradients heading out of Kendal. Andy was really struggling, and opted for a ride in the van a short while later. After that things really did get easier, as the Yorkshire Dales were much more rolling and with fewer severe gradients. I did however break a rear spoke somewhere here, and without any spares had to cycle much more cautiously - and also used the rear disc brake sparingly (to avoid over-loading the remaining spokes). Jamie had also been experiencing wobbles with his front wheel, and made the sensible decision to swap it out for a spare he had in the van.

North York Moors

We had a fairly gentle introduction to the North York Moors, although it was a bit difficult climbing up to the highest point at Langburn's Bank. Andy rejoined us at this summit, and things were generally downhill from here - but with some fairly brutal climbs almost the whole way to Whitby. Limber Hill coming out of Gaisdale (east of the River Esk) was particularly steep, and most of us had to walk it.


It was really nice descending into Whitby, at around 7:30pm - and we even kept going the whole way to the beach, where we dipped our front wheels into the sea! Same as in Whitehaven the sea was dead calm, and we reflected on how lucky we'd been with the mild, calm weather.

Ups and downs

We were very fortunate with the weather, and the tailwind took the sting out of the riding for most of the day.

The severity of the climbs was the major issue, and most of us really could have done with smaller bottom gears!

Support from Jackie, Deb and Donna was fantastic! They were really well organised with refreshments, and were available at the roadside fairly frequently - but not too often.

As time wore on we did start to split up into faster and slower groups, but we managed to keep re-grouping - and it was really great to all roll in together at the finish.

There wasn't a single puncture. We rode around 1000 miles between us, so that was pretty good going, especially given that we were trying to avoid the main roads.

Coast to coast: Whitehaven to Whitby ❤️

Ride on 2019-07-21 04:56:18, at with 4 others

Gear: Orro (Orro Terra)

254km in 10:34:35

Average speed24.0 kmh
Max speed65.5 kmh
Average heart rate116 bpm
Average power186 Watts
Elevation gain3559 metres

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Lake District! Appleby to Whitehaven

Ride on 2019-07-20 14:30:02, at

Gear: Ribble TT bike

104km in 3:56:39

Average speed26.4 kmh
Max speed58.3 kmh
Average heart rate151 bpm
Average power156 Watts
Elevation gain1699 metres

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by Deb carr on 04 August 2019
Loved being there to support you all!
by Darren Gowing on 04 August 2019
Fantastic day..great company.. Beautiful scenery... thanks all for making it really memorable...
by Dave Bloom on 03 August 2019
It was a pleasure riding this with you John, here's to the next challenge!
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About the author

My name is John Swindells and I'm a keen recreational cyclist with a preference for long one-day rides. I've also previously dabbled in time trialling and cyclo-cross. See more of what I get up to on Strava!

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