Day 1 – Whitehaven to Keswick.
Whitehaven is as windblown as any other English seaside town. Wild waves smash against the breakwater in the outer harbour but an official starting point can be found on the boat ramp at the end of the white wiggly structure (see photograph).
Quickly inland the path takes you winding through red brick housing on the outskirts of town and up gently though a string of parks toward the north-western Lakes. Along the way, near picturesque Lorton and other places kindly and enterprising home owners sell slabs of flap-jack outside their remote homes.
It’s a push up to the Forestry Commission at Whinlatter but worth it for the café seemingly on stilts in the canopy. It is a downhill slalom down to Keswick, where you might want to stay, or head out to a roadside Inn on the way to Penrith. Good fish and chips or pub grub almost guaranteed as Lakeland food is well known for being hearty, fresh, sustainable and sustaining. Check out the Sustrans/C2C website for bike-friendly accommodation.
Day 2 – Keswick to Rookhope
A gradual climb to Penrith is a good way to start the day and there will be more to come when you are warm. Quieter and (one imagines) less explored countryside (perfect cycling country). That’s the thing about the beautiful north – maybe we should keep it a secret?
Memorable climb up Hartside known by my friend as heart-attack hill. You will be breathing hard and blood will be pumping. Another winding road up the hill and it is a great summit. Roadside café serves filling grub.
Along and down through an abandoned landscape to a pub seemingly in the middle of nowhere. After miles of quiet road with bare bones of empty houses the guest house felt like the most comfortable place in the world, the only problem being walking up the stairs after a hearty meal and pint. The whole thing was about 70 miles. Vague memories of a tough but rewarding day.
Day 3 – Rookhope to Sunderland
Sharp climb over big stones to start with then spinning over high moorlands, an open far-reaching landscape. Plenty of places to stop for those who want to travel light and indulge in café stops. Down to the coast and along past the stadium of light to lighthouse and Lifeguards. A great beach around the corner for those looking for a proper beach-side scene. It was great. Four days would also be a good option.