Day 1

Saturday 27th July 2013 - Whitehaven to Greystoke

Getting to the start

When the alarm went at 6.15 we still felt tired, and our recent aches and pains (my shoulder, Liz's neck) felt worse than they had for ages... Hmmm, not a good start! At least the sun was out, rather than the rather grim weekend that had been forecast a few days earlier.

With the train leaving at 7.45, we grabbed a quick cereal bar before packing up and heading off to get the bikes out of the car, then cycled to the station, where we grabbed a more substantial breakfast of sausage & bacon baguettes...

The train arrived on time, and we thankfully squeezed in with 3 other bikes despite Northern rails '2 bikes max per train' policy. We then had a rather pleasant journey down the coast, although neck and shoulder pain seemed to be dominating our thoughts.

Once at Whitehaven, we cycled down to the official start point, marked by the rather nice C2C logo.
The start

Time to bite the bullet, and make some progress!

Whitehaven to Whinlatter

The initial run from Whitehaven is mainly on a disused railway, so made for a nice gentle warm up, with friendly dog-walkers aplenty as we travelled through the outskirts of Whitehaven, and out into the countryside beyond. The route is very well signposted, with lots of signs to remind us that the end in Sunderland is 135 miles away...!

There are also various sculptures along the way to keep us entertained, as we continue to climb steadily. We then switch from the disused railway to quiet back roads, as we start to get our first good views of the Lake District fells. A short break under the shelter of a church Lychgate sees a few fellow C2C-ers pass by.
Shady snack stop

Onwards towards the main challenge for the day - Whinlatter pass. This is tough and the first real test of the legs, but we make it OK, heading onto the forest tracks as we near the top, and then head for the Visitor Centre for a well deserved lunch. 

My shoulder is now improved, Liz's neck less so, both of us on the pain killers to try and take the edge off the discomfort.

Whinlatter to Greystoke

From the Visitor Centre, there are 2 choices of route, road or off-road. We agree to each take our preferred route, meeting up in Braithwaite at the foot of the pass. I enjoy the super speedy off-road tracks, but not the extra 1.5 mile along the valley floor at the end...

It is then a gentle ride into Keswick where we stop for pudding at 'The Pedlar', an aptly named cafe with good cakes!

Cake stop
From here I'd love to ride the Old Coach Road off road route to the South, but Liz's neck is most definitely not up to it, and it is too far to go our separate ways, so we stick to the standard route, which turns out to be a very pleasant shady disused railway running gently up the valley, passing under the A66, past Skiddaw and Blencathra, over a number of old railway bridges over the river, and through a tunnel. Eventually the route transfers back to a quiet gated road up to Mungrisdale, skirting around the Eastern edge of the fells.

Under the A66

Railway tunnel

From here we are on the home straight to Greystoke, now only a few miles away. We are treated to some lovely views back to the Lakeland fells, with Blencathra looking splendid in particular.
At this point we started to feel the odd drop of rain, which briefly turned into a sharp shower, so we took shelter for a moment before it subsided and we continued on our way. It was actually quite refreshing after a long hot day.

We finally pedalled into Greystoke at around 5pm, after 48.6miles and 4529ft of climbing, knees feeling a little painful, my shoulder now feeling ok, Liz's neck still feeling sore, but we had made it through day 1!

Day 1 finish

Shortly after arriving at Brathen B&B, it started raining in earnest, and pelted it down for the whole evening. Our hosts loaned us an umbrella for the walk down to the Boot & Shoe where we had a good meal, feeling glad that we had booked a table in advance given how busy it was.

We did feel sorry for the family who turned up on bikes, drenched, at about 8.30pm, who came in for food but left after only having a drink due to it being so busy... not sure where they ended up that evening.

Full stats for the day below, click through to Strava for the full details!

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