Day 2

Sunday 28th July - Greystoke to Allenheads

We slept to the sound of heavy rain beating against Velux windows. Not a happy sound when you have 42 miles and 4548ft of climbing ahead of you...

We tucked into our full english breakfast hoping that the weather would improve, but it persisted and we had no time to waste, so we donned our waterproof jackets, took a deep breath, and got on the bikes. 

Greystoke to Hartside

The day started with a road ride into Penrith, the surface water meant a soggy bottom but dry feet for me (no mudguards, but waterproof socks), and a dry bottom but soggy feet for Liz. We soon adapted to the rain, and didn't find it quite as depressing as we had feared. Rolling in to Penrith we tackled a flood under the M6, but it felt as though the rain was easing significantly.

Flood under the M6

We tootled through Penrith, then following the undulating back roads towards the Pennines. The mill cafe in Little Salkeld proved a great place to stop for a morning coffee and cake boost, although the roar of the river outside was slightly alarming. It had rained a lot!

Cake stop
After about 18 miles we took the optional off-road route, to find a rather more serious flood. I initially cycled into this, thinking it would only be an inch or 2 deep, but once the water was lapping at the hubs of my wheels, Liz rather nervously called me back, not fancying it herself! The map showed a stream crossing just around the corner, so the water would only get deeper, so I back-tracked through the water, grateful of those waterproof socks once more!

This is the track, not a river...
A quick check of the map showed a handy footpath linking us back to the standard C2C route, so we didn't have to retrace our tracks, so 5 minutes later and we were back on the official route.

From here, the climbing started in earnest, and just after the 20 mile mark, we once again had the option of an off-road route. Liz took one look and decided to stick to the tarmac, whereas I took the challenge and started plodding up the rough cart track across the moor, with the lunchtime target of the Hartside cafe looming on the horizon. The track briefly dropped down to cross an old packhorse bridge with torrents of water passing underneath.
The start of the off-road section up Hartside - cafe on horizon!

The gradient increased to the extent that I was off and pushing for a few hundred metres, then back on but cycling up a track that had spontaneously turned into a river overnight. At this point Liz came into view on the road up ahead, looking like she was going to beat me to our agreed meeting point at the White House.
My sodden path up to the White House
After a quick rest, we once again went our separate ways for another 5 mins, while I headed up the off-road section heading straight for the cafe, Liz taking the longer road route around the last hairpin on the A686, meeting up again at the Hartside Summit - 1903ft according to the sign!
Hartside completed
Panorama towards the Lake District from Hartside cafe
Lunch next, but Liz's appetite was fading so I ended up helping her out with her toastie. Not a good sign as we needed calories to keep us going, but she just couldn't face much food. No such problem for me, enjoying the good Mars bar cake for pudding!

Hartside to Allenheads

By this time we had started to dry out, and were even getting some occasional sunshine. Still, we donned waterproofs again to keep us warm on the initial long descent towards Alston, a welcome 4 miles of progress for hardly any effort.

Now came the difficult bit, summoning our strength to get over the 3 major climbs in the following 12 miles.

First up was the section from Garrigill to Nenthead, where I was once again to head along an optional off-road section, while Liz tacked the shorter but higher road route.
Route options in Garrigill
I was treated to some wonderful views looking back to Cross Fell in the sunshine, before dropping down into Nenthead past the old mine workings.

View back to Cross Fell

Dropping into Nenthead past mine workings
Arriving in Nenthead, there was no sign of Liz at our agreed meeting point by the pub. After a quick chat with some fellow C2C-ers who we had seen a few times over the last couple of days, Liz turned up looking a bit the worse for wear, so we sat on the picnic benches for a while to let her recover from the effort of the climb followed by steep descent on the road section she had ridden. Realising that she really needed to take some food on, we both had some oaty bars to give us a boost.

Two more big climbs to go...

I ignored the off-road option out of Nenthead, wanting to stay with Liz to make sure she was OK, so we set off, initially up the A689, then turning off on a minor road, dropping into Coalcleugh, and then climbing once again to the final significant summit of the day.
Into Northumberland

Descent to Coalcleugh
At this point we were greeted by a glorious view towards Allenheads, with our B&B at Newhouses visible from about 4 miles away!

B&B in centre of pic!
Another descent took us to the bottom end of Allenheads, a long sprawling village along the base of the valley, so we had a gentle climb up to the Allenheads Inn, where we would return later for dinner. When we reached the driveway to our B&B, Liz let out a groan at he sight of the steep gravel driveway, so I ended up pushing 2 bikes up the hill. What a gentleman...
Driveway to B&B
We were given a warm welcome at the B&B, stashed the bikes in the outbuilding, and then had well deserved showers. It had been a long day, not arriving until after 6pm. But we had a table booked at the pub for 7.30pm, so no time hang about!

The walk back down the hill to the pub went better than expected, and when we arrived we met up with the same 4 C2C-ers we had seen earlier in the day on various occasions, so we enjoyed a drink together and then agreed to eat together too. It was a great social evening, helping to take our mind off our aching legs!
Appropriate Ale

Tiredness started to kick in as 10pm approached, so we plodded back to the B&B up that long driveway once more!

Route stats below, click to see the full details.

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