In January 2011 I foolishly presuaded Celine to join me in attempting to do the c2c in two days. My brother John kindly offered to provide the logistics when he learned of our mad expedition. The plan was to travel to Whitehaven the day before the start so as to get on the "path" as early as possible. I booked two rooms at the Premier Inn, Whitehaven on the internet. Unfortunately, neither at the oft advertised discounted rate of £29. The active word, as ever, being "from" in the context of "rooms from £29". I was presuaded to prior book supper and breakfast for the three of us – to achieve a modest saving. I also booked us two rooms at the Alston House Hotel for our one night stopover.
The Premier Inn was fine – fit for purpose – we had an acceptable supper and the breakfast next morning was good. We were queuing to get into the dining rom for 7.00 and by quarter past it seemed that all the the guests were also taking breakfast – so busy – we c2cists were a minority – most of the residents looked like they were on business. A short journey took us down to the harbour where we dipped our wheels in the Irish Sea at bang on 8.00am – and then we were off . The weather was glorious – not a cloud in the sky and minimimal wind – eventually we were to complain that it was too hot. A puncture on Whinlatter pass and we were in Keswick for a well earned Hot Chocolate and food in no time at all but still a long way to go to get to Alston. A late lunch in Greystoke followed by another puncture on the outskirts of Penrith then a long and steep climb after Langwathby to join the main road from Penrith to Alston via Renwick. By this stage our sense of humour had completed deserted us. Once on that A road, it was a gentle climb to the summit of Hartside – time for a brief rest and then downhill all the way to Alston – reaching speeds of up to 45 mph in the process. Checking into the Alston House Hotel we were made very welcome. This is a lovely family run hotel -I think parts of the building date back to the 18th century. I'd told Celine and John about an interesting pub I'd visited the last time I'd stayed in Alston on the c2c so we decided to have a drink there before supper at the restaurant (highly recommended, by the way) at our hotel. The pub's called the Turk's Head and I can best describe it as a local pub for local people. The pint of local brew was most welcome, however.
After an excellent breakfast the next morning we set off for part two of our journey. A wretchedly steep journey out of Alston on the road to Nenthead and then Blackhill – the highest point on the route. Downhill for a while after that – more speeds of 45mph, then our first rest at a super little cafe in Allenheads. Another wretched steep climb from there – but fortunately cooler due to the cloud cover then a superb descent to the village of Rookhope. A choice here to follow the road to Stanhope and an ascent up Crawleyside bank or up Rookhope Incline and over the moors to Park Head for lunch. A no brainer really bearing in mind I'm on my mtb. Once the summit of the Incline is reached, its more or less downhill all the way to Tynemouth. Lovely thought. A welcoming cheese and onion toastie at the Park Head cafe and another Hot Chocolate.Mind you, we snacked all the time both days – to replace all those calaries we were burning off. The rest of the journey was less arduous thank goodness which was just as well as the glutious maximus was beginning to complain. Had a most welcome pint of lime and lemonade at the Pitcher and Piano next to the Millenium Bridge on Newcastle's quayside and a mere hour later we were at journey's end at Tynemouth, celebrating with a glass of champagne. Exhausted but so pleased to have done it in the alloted time. And guess what Celine and I both said? " never again" Who knows?