Every year I like to set a challenge for myself with the aim of testing the boundaries of my limit. Or simply to go and experience something that I have never done before that is perhaps a bit extreme.
Previous years have seen the likes of:
- Multi-day trips paddling around Anglesey
- UK three peaks
- Long distance walking paths
- Skydiving, white water rafting and bungee jumping
- Mountain biking across Wales over several days
- The London marathon
- Multi-day backpacking trips across Scotland
These challenges often require meticulous planning and a fair degree of physical training. My journey throughout the duration and the preparation leading up to these challenges is something I would like to capture and share, holding this as a central feature of this blog.
The first challenge I have set, will commence March 30th 2018 and finish 1st April 2018. This will be to cycle 222 km, coast to coast, across the entire width of the UK over a two-day period. I will begin this journey at Whitehaven and finish in Tynemouth, stopping half way at Nenthead.
The reason for choosing this as a challenge is for endurance required to witness this route’s renowned stunning beauty. Running over the mountains in the northern edge of the Lake District, through the equally beautiful Eden Valley and across the vast, roaming hills of the Northern Pennines, before dropping down to the post-industrial landscape of the North-east. This remarkable route then heralds a fittingly dramatic finishing point after negotiating two of the country’s main mountain ranges and a major city, linking the Irish and North seas in the process, completing an epic journey with a real test of endurance.
“This remarkable route heralds a fittingly dramatic finishing point after negotiating two of the country’s main mountain ranges and a major city, linking the Irish and North seas in the process, completing an epic journey.”
The plan will be to stay over in Whitehaven on March 30th to catch an early start on the Saturday. From here a 170 km stint will take me through the mountains and the most severe climbing sections on the route before spending the night, and a well-earned rest at Nenthead. The next day will then see a 130 km cruise along to the magnificent North-east coast after the highest point on the whole route, Black hill.
King of the Mountains
Starting at the impressive Whitehaven harbour and soon passing through villages like Loweswater and High Lorton dipping and climbing up into the mountains of the Lake District. The test piece of Whinlatter pass, a lengthy, steep climb alternating between forest track and road soon reveals itself to give a strenuous flavour of things to come. The most challenging section of the day will then come in the form of a 10 km off-road section on the ‘old coach road’ just after leaving Keswick. After this, the high summits of the Lake District are left behind as the flatter and more pastoral country of the Eden valley is approached. The final section of the day will be a long, steady climb up to what promises to be some spectacular Lakeland views from Beacon edge. From here the steep climb up to Hartside will descend into some serious off-road mountain biking before traversing along the Northern Pennines.
Early on in day two the highest point of the entire challenge is reached at Black Hill, standing at 609 metres. Fine sweeping vistas then progress the journey along the Waskerley way which will then lead to the magnificent Hownsgill viaduct before taking a more northerly course to put the mouth of the Tyne firmly in the crosshairs. My route will then follow Keelman’s way taking in attractive views of the River Tyne from an elevated position, this then allows a gentle downhill section, finally! Before arriving in the picturesque town of Tynemouth to then emerge in front of the sweeping beach of Longsands right on top of the Tyne estuary.
This promises to be a leg screaming challenge of endurance that will take a lot of hours on the bike in training. I plan to document each month of training to keep you updated on my progress every step of the way.
Leave a comment below if you have any tips on completion you would like to share, or have any future challenges you would like to see me have a go of!
I can’t wait for this one. It is going to be an epic!
The challenge is now set, this is the Starting point!