Day 3

Monday 29th July - Allenheads to Sunderland

We woke to an overcast, but dry, morning. Another hearty breakfast around a big table with all 6 guests eating together. All of us were doing the C2C, so lots of chat about the last few days experiences.

Whilst eating some rain started to fall, but nothing too serious, not after yesterday! So, once again we packed up for the day, I lubed the bikes after all of the water of the previous day, and then we were ready for the off. It had even stopped raining again!

Allenheads to Consett

Being a nervous downhiller, Liz decided to walk her bike down the driveway... I do wonder how many times I uttered 'let the brakes off!' over the course of the whole trip!

Once the driveway was dealt with, we then had to tackle the first significant climb right from the start, with no chance for a 'warm up'. The legs were not feeling too bad though, and a little bit of drizzle didn't bother us. Once at the top, we passed into County Durham, the county Liz and I met in nearly 20 years ago...

Into County Durham
There then followed a lovely 5 mile run down to Rookhope, our downhill pace evened out by me stopping every few hundred yards to take photos, and the headwind that we were facing on this section!
Mine workings

Rookhope Arch

Once in Rookhope, we once again had an off-road option. I had been working on getting Liz to try this section, as the alternative standard route followed the road further down the valley to Stanhope, followed by a tough road climb out of the valley. The off-road route goes up the 'Rookhope Incline' so there was no denying it was going to be tough, but hopefully much more scenic. She agreed to give it a go...

It proved to be a good option. Although a long climb, the surface was good enough to not cause Liz any problems, and the scenery was great. At the top we found the old engine house that was used to drag carriages up the incline in days gone by.
Start of the climb out of Rookhope
On the Rookhope incline
View back to Rookhope
Made it to the top
From here we had a great off-road section, gently downhill on the line of the old railway across the moor, some bits smoother than others, but everything ride-able. Great stuff!
Old railway line
This led us to the Parkhead cafe at the top of the Waskerley Way - time for a coffee stop and a bite to eat!

From here, we rejoined the standard C2C route, and the terrain became correspondingly easier, still a loose surface, but much smoother and faster than the previous section.
Start of the Waskerley Way
We now started to make good progress, it took us 2 hours to cover the first 11 miles of the day, from here onwards we were much faster. The skies also started to brighten, and soon we were removing waterproofs and swapping to short sleeves as the day warmed up.

Consett to Sunderland

After a few more miles, we started covering some more urban sections, still mostly on cycle tracks, as we navigated around Consett, Stanley, Chester-le-Street, grabbing a sandwich (and more cake) from a friendly bakery in Leadgate, which we ate on the edge of town.

We spotted various landmarks such as the Angel of the North and Penshaw monument, amongst other trailside features, as we continued on our way towards the coast.

Relics of a bygone age

The Transformers
The cows are a bit strange round here

Penshaw Monument
Finally we started seeing glimpses of the River Wear as it headed towards the coast, as the scenery became increasingly urban. We were still impressed at the pleasantness of it all though, enjoying this section more than expected.

Sunderland's Stadium of Light
Under the railway & road
More sculptures
The final section lead us around the marina and out to the the beach at Roker, to the end of the C2C, where rather inconveniently the sculpture was behind barriers due to impending 'improvements'. Oh well!
C2C sculpture was behind bars!
Traditional wheel dipping at the end
And relax
Not quite finished yet though - we need to cycle back to Sunderland station to catch our train to Carlisle, grab a bite to eat for the train journey, find the car, load the bikes, drive to Greystoke and Allenheads to collect our overnight gear, and then head back to my parents in Leeds. We arrive there at 11.30pm, ready for bed!

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

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