Sam’s Coast to Coast

Every year we seem to have more and more ambitious targets, especially in the summer holidays. This year there was nothing earmarked: I thought maybe we could do one of the TdF days over a weekend or some other significant long ride but when Sam came back from a few days with Grand-dad he had his own ideas. He’d noted that it’s generally downhill from the top of Hartside to our house and that it might be possible to do the Coast to Coast by diverting via home and continuing down the Tyne Valley to Tynemouth. In a day, of course!

The Sunday of the August Bank Holiday weekend was identified, time crammed in with everything else. The plan was to use the van, sleep at the West end in Whitehaven (or St Bee’s as it turned out) and then get picked up at the other end in the evening.

So, we arrived late in the big car park in St Bee’s. Parked up and constructed our sleeping arrangements – me on a shelf, Harry in a hammock and Sarah and Sam sleeping across the van in the cab and floor respectively. Hilarious but surprisingly comfortable, especially if you like the smell of GT85.

The day was glorious with a slight tailwind – perfect.

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Having done the wheel dipping thing we made steady progress towards the Lakeland hills. Sam was going so well I could barely take any photos which was a shame on such a beautiful morning. Before long we were at Keswick and stopped for a coffee and cake, and a wrap for Sam. He’s been gluten free for a while we’ve found that Costa have some good GF wraps that hit the spot.

On and up. Since we weren’t following the official route we felt happy cutting a few corners off, like the one to Mungrisedale and back, but overall we just followed C2C signs. Climbing steadily up to Hartside we were looking forward to some lunch and it was clear that Sam was starting to tire, or at least get hungry. The cafe was packed. Queueing to order I noticed the lights were off but thought nothing of it – only when I tried to order some food was I told that they’d had a power cut and no hot food was available! With just a few GF bars to nibble we decided to press on to home where we knew we’d get a good feed.

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We’d only guessed how far it might be but by the time we got to our house we realised we were in for a bigger day than planned. We’d thought 120 miles but at home we’d clocked about 94 and it’s another 40 miles to Tynemouth….Sam was tired and I thought he might struggle to go on from home. Filled up with pasta and cake though he was fine and we set off on more familiar ground towards Newcastle and then the sea.

As we passed though Newcastle something happened. Sam had obviously been doing the maths and decided we might finish within 12 hours if we kept going. To be sure he picked up the pace. The signage as you approach Tynemouth is variable – at one point it says there is about 5 miles when there is more like 8 – so the last bit of the route became an increasing mental test of endurance. Finally though we sprinted up the last slope and dashed down to the water to dip wheels again and stop the clock. Strava says 12hrs 3min. That’ll do. A tremendous effort on a fabulous day to add to the memory bank.

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