Awoke and went down for breakfast 8-30. It was a good breakfast we were all happy the rain had stopped; it had woken us all up. Then we all got our Kit together and went out to our bikes.

They were soaking wet; the saddles had water standing on them.

After they had all moaned and commented on starting the day with wet backsides. I pulled out a small towel and dried off the saddles and handlebars. Experience counts when you're cycling. Kit loaded we cycled down to Penrith for a call at the cash machine and a corner Shop for some drinks. Then the climb out of Penrith before the gentle undulating route took us towards the start of the climb up Hartside.

Stephen had been ribbing Christopher and pointing to the top of the hills in front of us saying we were going up and over them. They were a bit shocked when I confirmed we were. I took a pair of binoculars out of my bag and let them view Hartside cafe sitting on top of the hill. Yes that was the route. Some other cyclists went past commenting it was hard enough without viewing the steep climb.

I had already made the decision that we were going to take the off road route to give sore backsides a bit of a rest. With this information, Stephen and Christopher took off for a run at the hill. Glen and I follow, and come to the junction just as a yellow shirt was disappearing round the first corner of the off road section, we took this to be Christopher heading on up the hill on route. We decided to pedal the first part as it wasn't too steep, but was very rough so it had to be taken slowly to avoid damage to wheels and tyres.

We had made slow progress, along with a few other cyclists who were also doing the C2C . It was pleasant riding along passing pleasantries with others, when we heard a shout from behind. It was Stephen and Christopher; they had taken a wrong turn at the Junction. It was a 5-lane end but was well signed they had just gone wrong. They hadn't even taken the road route but had gone off down a minor Road. When they realised after a couple of miles they had to cycle back up an unnecessary hill to the junction again. This time taking the right route, we cycled on together for a while, then, as it became steeper we had to get off and push. The off road section crossed the road. Decision time, we crossed the road and looked at the off road section. It looked very rough but we thought it would probably improve. Decision made we took the off road route. Bad idea the track got worse and worse, The track deteriorated to such a point it was hardly pushable.

This was the easiest part

I would recommend to any one doing the C2C take the off road section for the first part then the road section for the final climb to the top. I know as I have done both this year.

Eventually we arrived at the top; it had taken us 3 Hours that was bang on schedule. Well Glen had looked at the mileage and that had been his estimate. So well done Glen, do you want to plan the next one? Hartside cafe was busy, with a long Queue to get served. Bank holiday weekend makes it a popular stop for cyclists and Motorcyclists. Glen gets talking to some bikers. Relating tales of when comes up on his Triumph speed triple; It's certainly an easier way to climb up to Hartside cafe. We order our meals and wait at our table, The cafe use a number ticket system, Stephen is starving as usual. His ticket is number 49. When they serve 48, 50, 51, 52, Stephen is worried, "Have they forgotten me." Then it arrives, a huge plateful. Even Stephen struggles, and I have to help out by eating half his dessert. Then suitably refreshed we saddle up and head on.

Hartside summit

The next few miles are the reward for the long climb. Long down hill sections that go on for miles. Then a slight rise and into Garragill. More cyclists could be seen sitting in the Pub but we carry on. A slight rise, Glen's chain comes off. Refitted we cycle on. Turn a corner and the hill in front of us looks like a vertical climb. We cycle some of it then have to push. Glen's handle bars, have come loose. Some other cyclists come up behind us, some try to cycle it but it is a struggle, most get off to push. We push and chat. The other cyclists are from Yorkshire; they are on a sponsored charity ride. They are doing it for the Yorkshire kidney appeal. I suggest it would have been easier to donate one of their own. They are riding without panniers. Its 3 O'clock, they tell us they are staying at Nenthead. Their support will be waiting there for them. What are they going to do in Nenthead all night? Their plan is to ride from Nenthead to Sunderland on the last day. It's a long way I hope they made it. Although the last half is easy and down hill or flat, From Nenthead to Waskerly, the first half, is very hilly and hard.

We stop at Nenthead Glen needs to use the public toilet. He is in for a long time. Stephen and I amuse ourselves in the children's playground. Playing on the Ski lift wishing it went up all the upcoming hills. 


This is the way to travel

Glen finally emerges to a round of applause then saddle up, in the time we waited our leg muscles have cooled, shame as we now have to climb to the highest point on the ride.

We brow the first hill and put on our jackets as its starting to get cold and is threatening to rain. The climbs are steep but the downs are long and gentle. The scenery is breathtaking across the isolated moors. 

Two county borders in quick succession

We stop just out of Allenheads, it was a lucky stop as the wind got up and brought some heavy rain. Luckily we were stood under some trees so sheltered until it had passed. Into Allenheads a flat ride through the village. A short break then a steep climb through the forest to the crest of the last steep hill of the day. A nice long rundown towards Rookhope. Stephen does an emergency stop. He has spotted a road sign saying " Blanchland. He calls Amanda's Grandmother "Blanch" after the Coronation Street character. I will let you guess why.

Stephen finds Blanchland

Then into Rookhope, the road winds though the village, and presents the C2C cyclist with a choice. Up over the grouse moor, or the road route. We have the choice made for us as we are booked into digs at Stanhope. The road is gently undulating as it slowly drops down towards Stanhope, just as well, as its at the end of a hard day and Glen is tiring. Glen gets a text from his girlfriend Lesley, she suggests she stays the night with him, nudge nudge, wink wink. I tell him to text back. Not to brother as he is already shagged. He did, hope you have a sense of humour Lesley! Soon we are pedalling into Stanhope. The Packhorse Inn is in the market place and  right beside the castle entrance. We place the bikes in the garage, among the pop bottles and waste bin. Then up to our room, we are all in together tonight. An attic room with six single beds. It has a small room in the corner when we investigate we find its a urinal and the smallest wash basin we have ever seen. Stephen christens it the diary room. As we have a kettle I decide to make a cup of coffee for us. Stephen says the room is like being in the Big Brother house, and proceeds to start a running commentary. Colin is making the coffee, Christopher is resting on his bed, Glen is texting on his mobile. We all suggest he gets voted out first. 

The Big Brother house

We telephone the girls they are all coming up tonight to spend the evening with us as we are not far from home. Christopher takes the bed at the far end of the room, the only one with a footboard; Christopher is tall and spends all night complaining the bed is not big enough. He refuses the suggestion to Swop beds as he has all his kit spread on the adjacent bed and cant be bothered to swap over. The landlady says to use her bathroom, I think they all had a good soak using her babble bath. I use the guests shower so we are all ready and in the bar for 8 O'clock. The girls turn up.

The landlady advises us that no pubs will be doing food that evening, so suggests that we get a takeaway, from the Chinese /chipshop or Indian take away. Then bring it back to the pub and eat it in the Restaurant.
This was very kind of her and we accept the offer.
We decide on a Chinese and walk up to the take away. An order of 8 takeaways must be unusual in Stanhope, as the Lady behind the counter repeated it twice, then after writing it down and disappearing into the kitchen came back out to re confirm the order again.

The service was quick and we were soon back carrying our take away through the pub getting some strange glances. There was a disco on in the pub and a motor cycle meet in the pub across the road so it was quite lively. Once we got into the restaurant with the door shut, it was a lot quieter. The disco was pretty good, playing a wide variety of music, so different age groups around the table kept commentating this is a good song. Usually prompting derisory comments from the others. The food was good and apart from a few drunken girls that kept opening the door thinking it was the toilet door we had a nice private meal.