C2C - Route 71
Route Section: Start Point > Keswick
To Finish: 222km (139m) Tynemouth | 216km (135m) Sunderland.
Distances to Finish will henceforth be to Tynemouth. Simply subtract 6km (4m) if you are heading to Roker Pier, Sunderland.
km = kilometres
m = miles
Keswick 50km (31 m). 19km traffic free.
Penrith 86km (54 m).
The first bit you are advised to walk. Fear not, you will soon be in your saddle! When you get to the train station walk to the end of the station car park and turn right down the path to the front entrance of Tesco.
Turn left up the wide path until the zebra crossing, then hang a right into the car park.
Cross the road onto the harbour by the Whirlpool of Fishes sculpture. Then you can get on your bike and ride straight along the harbour to the slipway before dunking your wheels and setting forth.
Haven Cycles, 2 Preston St, Whitehaven, Cumbria CA28 9DL. 01946 63263.
Powerbikes, Unit 8a, Sneckyeat Industrial Estate, Whitehaven, Cumbria CA28 8PF. 01946 690900.
About the town
Whitehaven has the distinction of being both the starting point of the C2C and the finish for the Reivers Cycle Route. It is also on the route of Hadrian's Cycleway.
Whilst it may not be quite the place it was in the 18th century, when it played a significant role in the British slave trade and was the main importer of tobacco on the west coast, it has undergone a major transformation in the last couple of years and its fine Georgian architecture is now looking spruce and proud again.
Perhaps the most impressive feature is the large harbour, which has undergone a £68 milion facelift. There is a fine 100-berth marina, now choc-a-bloc with pleasure craft of all sizes and shapes. The town has, in short, re-acquired some of the prosperity it lost in the years after it became the world's first new town.
It is hard to imagine that early Manhattan's street grid system was based on the pattern the Lowther family laid out for Whitehaven in the late 1690s, when it became apparent that the Cumbrian settlement was destined for great things. Shortly afterwards the streets filled with rum and sugar merchants, slave traders and tobacco speculators as well as America-bound settlers waiting for their boat to come and take them off to a new life in the New World.
The harbour was teeming with coal transporters, which plied the Irish Sea to supply Dublin's houses and industries with black stuff dynamited from under Whitehaven's seabed. There was also shipbuilding: more than 1,000 vessels were built in the Whitehaven yards, and one of the oldest surviving iron-built ships was constructed here.
After London and Bristol, this was the busiest port in England.
Places of Interest
The Beacon (01946 592302) Local maritime and industrial history within the Harbour Gallery and magnificent views over the town. Done up during 2007.
Michael Moon’s Bookshop & Gallery (01946 599010), 19 Lowther St. One of the largest bookshops in Cumbria, “vast and gloriously eccentric!”
The Rum Story(01946 592933), Lowther Street. Exhibition celebrating the Jefferson family business, the oldest booze empire in Britain.
The Haig Mining Museum (01946 599949) Solway Road, Kells, Whitehaven. Memories of the last deep pit in Cumbria.
Where to eat and drink
Castle Knights Bar & Grill, Low Corkickle, CA28 7RP. Rustic style, burgers, fish and chips, grills all home-cooked and locally sourced. From £7.95 to £16.95. There’s a bar and a big sun trap of a beer garden, plus lock-up for bicycles. 2 minutes from rail station. 01946 693604. E: firstname.lastname@example.org. Run by: Kelly Gribbin.
Georgian House, Church Street. 01946 696611
Jasmine Palace, Duke/Strand Street. 0871 5297754
Blue Wine Bar & Restaurant, Tangier Street. 01946 691986
Westminster Coffee Bar, Lowther Street. 01946 694404
Askash Tandoori. 01946 691171
Ali Taj Restaurant , 34/35 Tangier St. 01946 592679
Howgate Brewster & Travel Inn. 01946 66286
Zest Harbourside. 01946 66981
The Wellington Bistro, at the Beacon, 01946 590231
Whitehaven’s connections with America go deep: John Paul Jones, founder of the American navy and erstwhile scourge of Britain’s own, gained his sea legs as a merchant seaman from Whitehaven. Indeed, the last invasion of the English mainland, in 1778, was perpetrated by Jones upon the town. The incursion was part of the only attack on British soil by US forces; and we should not forget that George Washington’s granny, Mildred Warner Gale, lived here and is buried at St Nicholas’s churchyard.
The town has been impressively preserved, one suspects, because a sudden lack of prosperity after the boom years disinclined planners from bulldozing in the name of progress. This left the Lowther architectural heritage preserved, as it were, in aspic. It is worthwhile walking the streets, admiring this memorial to an earlier and prosperous age, when sea captains and merchants lived in style.
There are many interesting and quirky sculptures around the harbour, a number of street mosaics featuring different aspects of the town’s heritage, plus a mural in Washington Square and a plethora of shiny plaques above doorways giving clues to the past. It is one of my favourite places on the whole route and it seems a shame just to use Whitehaven as a point of departure without spending the previous night exploring. There are plenty of distractions, in the form of pubs, restaurants and venues. The following day’s ride out of this port is nothing if not leisurely – a stark contrast to the undulations that are to follow. A late night is not going to spoil it.
The traditional way to start this route is by christening your bike on the slipway behind the big C2C sign by dipping the front wheel in the briny. Then you might wish to get your first route stamp at the New Espresso café in the Market Place.
Where To Sleep
Run by: Alan Graham
You can leave your car here for the duration of the ride. Good for groups, Chase is a privately owned Victorian former gentleman's residence in two acres of grounds. Quiet and comfortable with plenty of parking space, yet only a short stroll from the town centre. There is a secure lock-up for bikes (they have been looking after C2Cers since the route opened). Special £50 dinner, bed and breakfast deals for groups. £38pp (£2 discount) Fri/Sat/Sun for groups. Please call to discuss/arrange.
Car parking for duration.
Fully licensed: 0.25 miles from route. Town centre.
Pk lunch: from £7
Eve meal: £7 - £15. 2-courses £15.
B&B: Fri, Sat, Sun B&B £40.00 (D,B&B £65). Rest of week £50pp if sharing.
Rooms: 23. 6S, 4T, 13D.
Run by: Joanne Arthur
More much needed accommodation at the most popular start-point, Summergrove has 131 rooms 2 miles from the centre of town. Book room only and add meals as required or choose self-catering. Free car parking and you can leave your car for the duration of the ride. In-house gym, beautiful surroundings. Quote C2C on booking and get a 10% discount.
Pk lunch: by prior arrangement. Secure cycle storage and drying facilities.
Full English breakfast: £6.90.
Eve meal: yes - large dining room.
Room only: from £44.10; self-catered with shared kitchen from £46.65
with en-suite shower rooms.
Rooms: 131 available, single (3/4 size bed), double, twin, family room all