Coast to Coast 2 – Kirkoswald to Rookhope

Today we were being chased by Steve, Will and James – friends from London who had decided to do the route in two days. We had 35 miles to cover to Rookhope on our heavy bikes, whilst they travelling light had 95. The thought they might catch us on route drove us on throughout the day.

We left at 9.00 after bacon and egg rolls and chatting with three guys also cycling the route. They’d found it tough going too and looked a bit worried at the day ahead. The weather wasn’t so good and we were in Gortex from head to toe, which we both agreed was the greatest thing ever.

The morning started with an eight mile climb from 180 to 580m (1903ft) above sea level to the top of Hartside Fell. It was steep, cold, wet and hailing but pedalling along slowly was doable. The killer was the headwind that reduced us to a walking pace.

It took us 2.5 hours to reach the café at the top where we met up with Catherine and her 12 year old son Oliver who we’d met at the start on Day 1. They generously treated us to hot chocolate and cake which was delicious and needed. Although we should probably have waited for it to settle before we started the next uphill!

We’d been warned about the climb coming out of Garrigill, but naively thought with Hartside the worst was behind us. Fools! The road just went up and up and didn’t stop. We crawled up the thing with long spells of pushing where it just got too steep. It took us an hour to get up to the top and five minutes to fly down the other side into Nenthead where we had a picnic lunch, shivering in the cold.

The climb up Black Hill Summit, the highest point on C2C at 609m, warmed us up again, although we were greeted at the top by a flurry of hailstones that stung our faces. We didn’t stick around long therefore to admire the view, but did chat briefly to two guys who were doing the whole route in a day. They’d started at 5am in Workington and were hoping to finish by 7pm. The thought that somebody could do the entire thing in a day made us thing the boys might make it, so we pushed on too.

After a quick stop in Allenheads we saw the first blue sky of the day as we climbed the short, sharp hill coming out of the village. This made us very happy, and we were in great spirits as we whizzed down the four mile descent past Grove Rake Mine. However, we were quickly brought back down to earth turning the corner into Rockhope and hitting a headwind and blinding hailstorm that nearly saw Laura take Paddy out when he stopped to layer up.

The last mile was cold and wet and we’d made the decision to sleep in the bunkhouse rather than camp even before Val at the Barrington Bunkhouse showed us the room complete with roaring fire and comfy beds, all to ourselves.

Cleaned up and warm we headed to the next door pub to wait for the boys. We decided not to worry until 8pm, but as it got darker, colder and wetter and we still couldn’t get in touch we grew concerned. We finally heard from them that they had stopped in Nenthead, 20 miles back. For once they’d made the sensible move and we could relax knowing they weren’t lost in the middle of nowhere.

Stats

  • Distance covered: 32.2 miles
  • Average speed: very slow – 8.9mph I think…
  • Highest point: Black Hill Summit, 609m
  • Paddy’s best moment: Being on the same wavelength about staying in the warm bunkhouse rather than camping in the cold and rain.
  • Paddy’s worst moment: Starting the final descent in sunshine and finishing in a mini hailstorm
  • Laura’s best moment: Descent coming into Rookhope, before the hail
  • Laura’s worst moment: Garrigill hill
  • Food of the day: Chocolate cake and hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows at top of Hartside Fell


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