"". Cycling the Coast to Coast Challenge | Is This Mutton?

Fashion for the over 50s with books and beauty

Search This Blog

Wednesday 4 October 2023

Cycling the Coast to Coast Challenge

 & #WowOnWednesday 

Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton and husband at the Long Meg and Daughters Neolithic site

Dear friends. We've just completed a thrilling and challenging cycle ride, the Coast to Coast (C2C).  I literally got back this afternoon, which is why the Wednesday post is late. 

The Coast to Coast is 140 miles over 4 days, starting in Whitehaven on the west coast of Cumbria, and finishing in Tynemouth, not far from Newcastle, in the north of England. 

We did an organised self- guided tour. Our accommodation was booked for us - charming pubs and hotels in pretty villages - and our bags and bikes transferred as needed. I took my ebike and J a manual bike. I had to temper my usual modus operandi of taking too much! In fact I took too little, but we'll come on to that.

Why this Challenge?

As you'll recall, we did some cycling in the Lakes for the first time in early September, and enjoyed it so much we decided to go for the C2C challenge.  I thought 42+ miles a day  (less on some days) would be doable, and it was a good opportunity to see if I took to a group cycling holiday. 


We left home early with our bikes in the car - 7.30am -  to get to Newcastle in good time. We met the crew from Skedaddle, our tour operator, and the 10 other participants. I was relieved to see they were all in the same age group, late 50s to 60s. I was even more relieved to see there was another ebike, which was being rented. 

We were transferred to Threlkeld, a village at the foot of Blencathra mountain, staying at the Horse & Farrier for two nights.  Dinner in this cosy and busy pub was extremely hearty. I had soup followed by a beefburger and chips. 


An early start with breakfast at 7 to try to avoid the forecast wet weather.  Rain was very likely from 2pm. We were driven to Whitehaven,  the traditional starting point for the C2C challenge.  You're supposed to dip your wheels in the water, but it's a risky manoeuvre on the slipway.  

We hadn't gone far when we ran into a problem:  the path, bordered by trees, was under water. Some managed to push their bikes up the slippery bank;  I walked mine through the edge of the water, cringing as my white trainers got filthy  (not very practical, and the only pair of shoes I took!).  We then discovered the rest of the route was even soggier, so had to turn back and find the road. 

After the first 10 miles the Skedaddle van popped up on the roadside,  a table groaning with cakes. biscuits, fruit and drinks.  This was a welcome sight each day for coffee, tea and lunch stops. 

We quickly split into two cycling groups. J was mostly the leader of our group, as he had the route on his Garmin. 

After scaling Whinlatter Pass we had a van lunch at the roadside: rolls, salad, quiche, crisps and so on. No toilets but plenty of trees for a wild wee! 

As we started the remaining 10 miles back to Threlkeld the heavens opened. We were soaking when we got back, although my rain jacket kept me dry underneath. The pub is well used to fell walkers and cyclists so there was plenty of hot water and heat to dry our clothes. The first group were quickly escorted outside by one of the helpful staff who showed us the lock-up where we stored our bikes. 

Dinner for me was fish n chips. I skipped a starter knowing how big the portions are. 

DAY THREE: THRELKELD TO ALSTON, 41.8 miles, 4265 ft (1299.972 metres) ascent 

The day dawned chilly and overcast.  Later start with breakfast at 8. This was a stellar day, and the weather was good. We saw a Neolithic stone circle - Long Meg and Daughters (shown at the top). Below: lunch on a village green. 

The highlight of the day was scaling Hartside Pass, a very long and gradual climb. In the last few metres I was challenged to a race by Liz, who's amazingly fit, but my ebike managed to hold her off.  At the top we enjoyed hot drinks from a mobile vendor and watched motorbikers and owners of classic and fast cars showing off on the pass. 

We were thrilled to get Tunnock's Wafers at the Alston Hotel (it's the little things!) and a very nice group dinner. I had a rustic prawn cocktail and lamb shoulder with mash. 

A dinner stop at Alston House for the Coast to Coast cycling challenge and Is This Mutton's Gail Hanlon

DAY FOUR: ALSTON TO EDMUNDBAYERS, 37.4 miles, 3937 ft ascent (1199.998 metres)

This was the hardest day because although it was shorter, we had some very unrelenting hills along the North Pennines to deal with: bleak but stunning terrain. The hills were deceiving as you couldn't see where they ended. 

As we were in danger of finishing by 2pm, we stopped at a heritage centre and cafe for coffee, and looked around the delightful craft shop. 

 I regretted not taking warmer clothes for cycling. My leggings weren't dry from yesterday so I had to wear bib shorts, and my legs were cold. 

Near the end we arrived at a gorgeous village called Blanchland, and popped in the abbey, founded in 1165. There was a wedding party taking photos in the picture-perfect square.

J and I had to wait a while in Edmundbuyers for a transfer to our overflow accommodation, the Mansion House Inn.  We had dinner at the former, Stilton, walnut and apple salad for me followed by koftas. 

DAY FIVE: EDMUNDBAYERS TO TYNEMOUTH, 43.2 miles, 2297 ft ascent (700.1256 metres)

Today was the day we cycled triumphantly into the coastal town of Tynemouth, dazzling in October sunshine. But first there was an agonising climb out of Edmundbyers, with a cold head wind that made even my sturdy ebike wobble when a lorry went by.

Mercifully it was over after 3 miles and we dropped down to a pleasant granite trail. There was a tea shop, sadly closed, and some artifacts of mining and metalwork. 

J had shot off, and was a speck in the distance.  I "went like the clappers" to catch him, and finally did. We rolled through lovely country parks, the town of Consett and back to a former railway trail, and were the first to arrive at the coffee stop at 11.30. 

Just over an hour later we got to Gateshead and Newcastle and cycled over the Millennium Bridge. Along the Quay we found the Cycle Hub and had pre-ordered rolls. 

We stayed together as a group for the final leg and our last few miles included an old Roman baths site.

In Tynemouth we posed for pictures. It was a proud moment to savour our achievement. After a celebratory cup of prosecco, those on trains were put into taxis and the rest of us went back to the Newcastle Hilton. 

We did it! Is This Mutton's Gail Hanlon and 11 other participants in thge C2C challenge with Skedaddle in Oct 2023

J and I spent the night at a Holiday Inn on Scotch Corner. The area was plunged into a power cut, just before our dinner order had gone through, but power was restored in 30 mins. This was a mercy, you know how men get when they're hangry! But sadly, the power cut disrupted the car's charging, and it wouldn't reset so we had to do without. 

Is the Coast to Coast worth doing?

As an organised trip, yes! You see the most wonderful scenery. There's a desolate and bleak feel to some of the North Penines, the bustling chic town of Newcastle,  and lots more in between, with Neolithic sites and reminders of the northern industrial heritage. 

The cycling is tough, but everyone succeeded, and we were all at varying degrees of fitness. There were two ebikes and a bike with a 30% power boost. And I still got a good workout on the ebike: on the last day I burned 2,386 calories  (without exercise I burn 1,400). 

A ebike is a great option for those who haven't got the time to do lots of cycling,  aren't as fast as their partner, or just want a boost of energy to extend a ride or get to the top of a hill. 

More and more places are getting savvy about bike storage and charging. It will be a huge market if you look at the growth of ebikes in the rest of Europe. 

We're now considering doing Land's End to John O'Groats, over 3 weeks.  J has done it three times over two weeks. There are a few difficulties to resolve with logistics before we can commit to it. 

I hope you enjoyed our cycling challenge. A bit different than the usual fashion post...but normal service will be resumed next Wednesday. 

If you'd like to leave a comment,  please scroll down past the link-up to the comments box. 

Sharing this post with: Weekday Wear at Away from the Blue, #AnythingGoes at My Random Musings, Hello Monday at Sunshine and Books, Tell it to Me Tuesday at Perfectly Imperfect, Rena at Fine WhateverTurning Heads Tuesday at Elegantly Dressed and Stylish,  Confident Twosday at I Do Declaire, Style with a Smile at StylesplashCurated by Jennifer (Wednesdays), Chic & Stylish at Mummabstylish, #SpreadTheKindness  and #Linkup on the Edge at Shelbee on the Edge,  Thursday Fashion Files at Doused in Pink, #Neverendingstyle at The Grey BrunetteFancy Friday at Nancy's Fashion Style,  Traffic Jam Weekend at Marsha in the Middle Senior Salon Pitstop at Esme Salon Crafty Creators at Life as a Leo Wife,  Unlimited Link Party at Grammy's Grid 


September Sizzled 

September Books

Weight Struggle Update

Autumn New Arrivals

Wow On Wednesday is the weekly link-up that brings you posts from around the world on fashion, beauty, lifestyle and travel. Readers can find new blogs to follow, and bloggers can find new readers! Favourites will be back next week. 

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


  1. What a great endeavor! I have a friend here in southern California whose son is doing the same kind of cycling challenge, like 200 mountain miles, beginning today.
    That sounds like a feat!

    1. These challenges are fun to do, and I've us something to train for, which I think is essential as we get older

  2. How I enjoyed this post Gail! What a amazing few days. We love to cycle and twice a year we do so with friends with a overnight. We cycled a few times in the Rye area. You see so much more when you cycle! But the Lands End trip would be totally awesome I think.

  3. Wow, congratulations on the C2C! I enjoyed hearing what it's about and where you've been.
    Visiting today from AnythingGoesLinky 397 #5&6


Blog Design Created by pipdig