The Walney to Wear (coast to coast) Cycle Ride
One of Dorvics regular customers, Alan Hall, has written a review of one of the most challenging short cycle rides in the UK, 3 days of stunning scenery, severe climbing, 4 seasons in one day and a great long weekend away.
The Walney to Wear (W2W) cycle route from Walney Island just outside Barrow in Furness on the English west coast crosses 152 miles of wonderful, and very hilly, countryside to Wearmouth in Sunderland. It is a classic sea to sea (C2C) cycle touring adventure that is both challenging in distance and terrain but achievable with some preparation for all. Not only do you need to be fit but also your bike needs to be fully serviceable and your saddle bag topped up with spares and tools. This is something the team at Dorvics were perfect at helping me with.
The first time I cycled this route was with my 77 year old uncle who was both keen to take on the challenge as well as raise money for the Red Cross. He achieved both.
Barrow can be reached by train, with a short ride from the station to the beach on Walney Island. It is tradition to dip your wheels in the Irish Sea at the start.
While most of the journey is on quiet country roads with fantastic views, there are some farmland tracks and railway paths so this is a good test for the bike as well as the rider. In fact, on the hill out of Barrow, my Uncle’s chain failed under the strain taking his derailleur and a couple of spokes with it. It is all too easy to forget that a chain stretches over time. For a ride like this, your bike needs to be fully serviceable. We were fortunate in that a local bike shop came out to collect my Uncle and his bike and repair it.
As well as having my trusty Dawes bike fully serviced at Dorvics before I set off, I added spare tubes, a puncture outfit, a pump, spare CO2 canisters, lights, chain splitter and a full set of wrenches. As the majority of the route is on-road, Dorvics recommended Continental Four Seasons road tyres, which have a thicker surface to reduce the chance of punctures.
The route crosses The Lake District via Cartmel and Kendal and on to Orton having crossed under the M6 near the Shap summit. From here there is a short relief from the hills before the long climb over The Pennines via Tan Hill and the welcome site of The Tan Hill Inn at the top. A beautiful but very wild spot where we cross The Pennine Way. It was on this climb that we were buzzed by Lapwings presumably protecting their young from sweaty cyclists.
The welcome downhill is soon interrupted as the way diverts onto a rough farm track on the way to Barnard Castle. While this is passable with road tyres, be prepared for punctures. I always carry a CO2 inflator as I prefer to save my energy for the hills and not pumping up bicycle tyres.
After this, the route becomes more undulating via Hamsterley Woods and along a 7 mile railway path (more punctures!) to the delightful city of Durham. This is a good lunch stop and a chance to recover. The cathedral and castle are well worth a visit.
The route briefly follows the river before climbing out of Durham and eventually joining the gradual decent through Sunderland to the mouth of the River Wear as it spills into The North Sea.
A great ride, good fun and a fantastic way to test the fitness of both you and your bike. I have now ridden this route three times, twice as training for longer adventures such as London to Paris.
My advice to anyone who wants to take on this adventure is to travel light and ensure both you and your bike are fit for a hard ride. It is worth it. For more information take a look at http://cyclingw2w.info and don’t forget to book your bike in for a service at Dorvics first.