Coast To Coast By Bike; A Sea-to-Sea Cycle Route

Our Coast to Coast Cycle Route

Barrow-in-Furness to Whitby

In the autumn of 2008, Mash-Up and District Cycling Club took north to tackle a challenging Coast to Coast Cycle Route. In this article, I share our Wainwright-inspired coast-to-coast route with maps, places of interest and some excellent tea room recommendations. All the essentials for a successful Sea-to-Sea bike ride.

Our Coast-to-Coast Bike Ride

Riding in convoy with the crew Adrian and I like to call the Mash-Up and District Cycle Touring Club, we set off in a raggle-taggle shimble-shamble of bike-based vagabonds from all corners of the UK.

MUDCTC is our quirky moniker for a motley crew of enthusiastic amateurs. We all share a love of steel bikes, open country and steep climbs.

Typically, we place the route planning for these bike trips with Adrian. He’s a map reading pro (he works with maps at the Environment Agency) so always makes an effort to add a little creativity to these organised rides.

A quirky fact, many folks (including me) mistake the C2C abbreviation for Coast-to-Coast. It is in fact, Sea-to-Sea, that the C2C stands for. Useful insider detail for when you meet fellow travellers in a tavern discussing the days adventures over a cold beverage.

mash up and district cycling club on the coast to coast cycle

Coast To Coast Route Plan

Adrian planned our C2C cycle route to maximise the bike paths and B-roads that we are all so fond of. Plenty of winding lanes, rolling hills and country pubs – perfect for a post coast-to-coast beer!

In a nutshell, our four-night and five-day Sea-to-Sea cycle route in main way markers looked like this:

  • Barrow-in-Furness
  • Coniston (Lake District National Park)
  • Cross Windermere on a ferry
  • Kendal for lunch
  • Hawes YHA (Yorkshire Dales National Park)
  • Northallerton
  • Great Ayton, Egerton (into North York Moors National Park)
  • Whitby
  • Cinder Track to Scarborough

A Coast To Coast Cycle Route

Our total coast-to-coast route distance was 166 miles. For the terrain, we made steady progress and made the most of our lunch stops at the excellent selection of cafes, tea rooms and public houses along the way.

Our starting point was Barrow in Furness. A small town with good railway connections. We arrived here over the course of a few hours on trains from London, Stoke and Nottingham. Most riders had pre-booked tickets to guarantee bicycle storage on the train.

Barrow-in-Furness to Coniston

barrow in furness coast to coast cycle route map

Barrow-in-Furness To Coniston Cycle Tour

Day One: From Barrow-in-Furness, we cycled up to Coniston. Perched just inside the southern tip of the Lake District National Park, Coniston is an iconic name in watersports. Coniston Water is where Donald Campbell set several world speed records.

We spent the night at YHA Coniston Holly How. Hot showers, comfy beds and tasty food – highly recommended. The licensed bar serves local ales including Blue Bird (named for Donald Campbell’s boat), Old Man (named for the famous hill) and Original IPA. Perfect for an end-of-day coast-to-coast beer.

Lake District National Park to Yorkshire Dales National Park

lake district national park coast to coast cycle route map

Coniston To Hawes Cycle Ride

Day Two: This next stretch of our coast to coast cycle took us out of the Lake District National Park across the country into the Yorkshire Dales National Park. We started the day with an unexpected highlight. We crossed Windermere on a ferryboat.

In Kendal, we enjoyed a delicious second breakfast of tea and cake at Farrers Tea and Coffee House. We cracked on from there towards Sedburgh, where we stopped for lunch. A giant jacket potato filled with cheese and beans. Much needed after the morning’s efforts, alas, a little heavy on the digestion for a big afternoon cycling.

Our final destination for the day was Hawes in the Yorkshire Dales. There is a steep descent to this place so we knew were heading into a climb first thing – a classic Adrian surprise. We arrived at the hostel in plenty of time for supper and a delicious pint of Black Sheep.

Crossing The Yorkshire Dales By Bike

yorkshire dales national park coast to coast cycle route map

Hawes To Osmotherley By Bike

Day Three: There’s a saying in the UK, ‘uphill and down dale’. It’s an idiom meaning it’s a heck of a long way round and very hilly. That saying derives its name from this region. That said, the Yorkshire Dales are stunning in every way. Steep inlines lead ever upward to reveal vast expanses of rolling hills below.

Each new valley offered its own variety of cheese or pie. The Wensleydale Visitor Centre at Hawes of Wallis and Gromit fame was our first stop for the day. We enjoyed a slice of tasty cheese, took a photo and were on our way past dry stone walls through the grasslands of Swaledale.

Our destination for the evening was Cote Ghyll at Osmotherly. A beautifully refurbished linen mill served as our accommodation for the night. It was a fine place to stay, nestled on the cusp of the North York Moors National Park. Pint in hand we chatted over supper about our day of cycling across the wonderful Yorkshire Dales.

Up And Over The North York Moors National Park

north york moors coast to coast cycle route map

Osmotherley To Whitby By Bicycle

Day Four: Our destination for the final day of this improvised coast to coast cycling challenge was Whitby. This charming coastal town has a special place in my heart because for ten years I ran The Whitby Guide. On the night that we arrived in Whitby, I ran around the town frantically posting flyers for my fledgling business through the letterboxes of hotels and B&Bs.

The days cycling from Ostmotherley to Whitby was a pleasant one, skirting the fringe of the North York Moors National Park. The scenery had changed dramatically. Where the Dales had been lush, green and peppered with cattle and sheep, the Moors were barren, bleak and rugged.

There’s only one road across the Moors. The A169 is a terrific way to see the sparse beauty of this historic part of the world. Once at the coast there’s a rich maritime heritage to explore including Captain James Cook, smugglers tales and the finest fish and chips in the land.

And that was just how we ended our coast to coast cycle challenge. We ate fish and chips from Mr Chips (look for the psycho clown sign) and enjoyed a few well-earned pints in the Abbeywharf. A fine way to end a fantastic week of cycling. Grand.

The Final Stretch Cycling The Cinder Track

whitby to scarborough cinder path route map

Cycling The Cinder Track From Whitby To Scarborough

Day Five: The final morning of our coast-to-coast cycle route was spent cruising along the Cinder Track to Scarborough. The Cinder Track is a disused railway line that was converted into a cycle path by Sustrans.

These last few miles were easy going along a flat bridleway directly into the town centre. We all had trains to catch back to our busy lives but for five idyllic days, we romped through the Lakes, Dales and Moors, just like Wainwright himself.

Coast To Coast Cycling Kit

Since we stayed in hostels each of the four nights we carried just a change of clothes and basic tools. I carried a small backpack and rode a 54cm SCOTT USA sports bike. It was not a great set up but I was young and keen.

Some of the more established members of Mash-Up and District Cycling Club rode sensible steel-framed touring bikes and carried just a single small pannier. The perfect lightweight rig for this trip.

The Coast To Coast Cycle Route With Google Maps

Have you cycled the Coast to Coast? Share your routes and experiences in the comments below: