The first item to consider was which route to cycle. There are various official cycle routes to cross the width of England, such as the Way of the Roses, Hadrians Cycleway and the C2C. As well as the route taken, these differ in the type of terrain that they cover. I was keen to cover as much offroad as possible, Liz was happy to stick to tarmac, so a route which offered a mixture of the 2 was likely to keep us both happy. This led us to choose the C2C, which uses a mixture of quiet back roads, cyclepaths and disused railways, with a few slightly more challenging optional 'offroad' sections.
Next decision - how many days were we going to take? 3 or 4 days seems the accepted norm, with some doing the full crossing in a day, and others taking a week. We decided that 3 days would be within our reach!
We also decided that we did not want to be lumbered with carrying our overnight luggage, so B&B were found on route in Greystoke and Allenheads. This meant that the middle day would be the shortest, but with the most elevation gain, which seemed sensible.
I then spent a long time pondering options for the logistics of getting ourselves to the start, home at the end, and getting luggage to our accommodation on Friday, Saturday and Sunday night. Our 2 daughters were to stay with my parents in Leeds, so a train ride up to Whitehaven and home from Newcastle seemed the obvious choice, but journey times were long, with changes required, and we would have to carry 2 bikes plus luggage on the train, and pay for 3 baggage transfers, which was costly.
So the cunning plan that we eventually settled on was:
- Post a parcel of overnight gear to the Allenheads B&B in advance of arrival
- Drive to Carlisle from Leeds via the Greystoke B&B (only 4 miles off the M6), dropping another overnight bag.
- Spend Friday night at the (cheap) Travelodge in Carlisle, parking in the long stay car park
- Catch the train from Carlisle to Whitehaven on Sunday morning (1 hour journey)
- Ride the C2C (makes it sound easy...)
- Catch the direct train from Sunderland to Carlisle to return to the car (2 hour journey)
- Drive back to Leeds via both Greystoke and Allenheads to collect our luggage