Be Sure to Dip Your Wheel!!
Alarm went off at 0315hrs!!!! Saturday morning. We load the van and off we jolly well go. Our driver is an important cog in the weekends exertions. He is friend, navigator, cook, logistics, medic, transporter et al.
We arrive at Walney Island at 0650, still dark. It's cold, windy, miserable and the sea looks rough. Too rough, far out and stoney beach for 2 of us to even consider dipping our tyres in the traditional and 'luck bearing' way. Big mistake for us 2.
We set off as soon as it"s light. We quickly see off Barrow and the busy roads and into the scenic villages and landscape. First stop is tea and snacks at Grange on Sands....plus toilet. We set off again and it becomes a rolling climb fest all the way to Orton with the outstanding scenery still with us. Dinner is waiting and a well deserved dinner break. Tiredness is kicking in now at 63 miles, but worse, much worse is looming. Kirkby Steven and then the infamous climb up Tan Hill.
The first bits up Tan Hill are steep, hard work, but do-able. We are climbing and climbing and it's getting bleaker and windier. This is now tough, very tough. The wind is against us!! We eventually catch sight of the lone building at the top. The highest pub and that sight inspires us to kick on and pass a few walking mountain bikers. A beer and a seat by the log fire is most welcome. Lots of bikers and walkers in there and all friendly. We are now at about 90 miles and legs are stressed from the many climbs.
From Tan Hill, there's a stoney loose path to Bowes and Barnard Castle (overnight stay). I deem it too risky for our road bikes and insist we do the road route albeit a few extra unwanted miles. I win and we descend for miles and to our alarm we hit an unwanted climb that makes the Strava Top 100. This was an absolute brute with shattered legs and causes 2 falls from the ones who didn't dip their tyres. I think the 3 of us were at the cusp of exhaustion. We arrive at Barnard Castle for another uphill ride through the town and now it's dark at 1915hrs. We were absolutely shattered having done 105miles and climbed 8500 feet. We stayed at Buchanan House (best place I've stayed, on all my cycling jaunts). Washed and refreshed we hit the nearby pub and eat and drink. Sleep is not a problem, surprisingly.
After a fry up we are sent off with a wave and pack up. It's 0800 and it's rained all night. Within 1 mile we are all wet through from the spray. We plod on and stay infront of the rain. The pace is quick due to 20 miles of flat terrain. Spirits are high. We hit a descent with a sharp bend and one of the 'non tyre dippers' falls grazes his hip and worryingly damages his derailleur. We manage to sort it, but his gears are constantly playing up. A short brutal climb and gears now stuck for good and all bent. 1 non tyre dipper down, gutted and now in the van for good.
We plod on to Great Ayton. In a rush to get refreshments and the best deck chair first, I clip the kerb and fall in the middle of the village and infront on my gang. Blooded knee and elbow I'll tolerate, but save me the embarrassment!!!
We hit the North York Moors and into serious climbs again. The initial climb onto the moor is the hardest I've ever experienced. We plod on, climb, descend, climb, descend -20% 25% climbs. These climbs are worse than day 1, or are my legs just in bits? A final stop break in Egton and another fall from me on a loose stone path (the curse of the non tyre dip), we hit the last stretch to Whitby. Pretty straight forward except for very tired minds and bodies and one last 25% climb into Whitby (thanks for that one).
Pro"s and Cons
I've done C2C, Way of the Roses, Hadrians Wall and Coast and Castles. I've listed them in order of toughness. Each one is now pushed down one to make way for the W2W (Whitby section).
180 miles and nearly 12,000 feet is a lot in 2 days. As everyone said, consider doing it in 3 or 4 days and enjoy the scenery/surroundings. We were nose to the grindstone all the time and missed out on a lot.