C2C MTB Western section St Bees to Kirkby Stephen

Our route to Kirkby Stephen

With a combined age of 125 years we decided to give ourselves the luxury of baggage transfer for our trail ride on mountain bikes from St Bees in Cumbria to Robin Hoods Bay in North Yorkshire. We were riding unsupported and had devised our own route which was based on the Tim Woodcock route, which itself is based on the walking route developed by A.W Wainwright.

We used the the Kirkby Stephen based company Packhorse for our transfers and baggage transport.

Readying the bikes for our Packhorse transfer to St Bees

We met the Packhorse team at Kirkby Stephen which is roughly half way across the C2C route. There were several other people there too but they were walkers. We left our car in their secure car park and were transported with our bikes to St Bees to start the ride.

At St Bees ready to Start

Posing at the official start of the C2C walk

We began by riding up the road to Sandwith and then joined the cycle track along the old railway at Moor Row. National Route 71 of the National Cycle Network makes up the western third of the C2C route which follows paved roads.

On Sustrans route 71

At Kirkland the more difficult of the Tim Woodcock routes heads onto Ennerdale. We had decided to take the easier option through the Lake District and kept going North. We were soon onto some very nice bridleways and headed down to the lakeside at Loweswater.


We continued to a bridleway which became a footpath alongside Crummock Water . At Buttermere we took the road over Newlands Hause.

The road climbs over 200 metres with gradients up to 18%.

Newlands Hause.

We then dropped down through the Newlands Valley, through Keswick and climbed up to Castlerigg Stone Circle. It was constructed as a part of a megalithic tradition that lasted from 3,300 to 900 BC, during the Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Ages.

Castlerigg Stone Circle.

We continued east by following the Old Coach Road from St John’s Vale. It’s very steep and rough to begin with so we had to walk.

Walking up the Old Coach Road out of St john’s Vale.

Once up above the quarries it was really good and we had a great ride over to High Row.

Great riding on the Old Coach Road to High Row.

We followed undulating paved roads through Matterdale and down to Pooley Bridge.

The undulating paved roads reminded us of why we had opted to take an easier route through Lakeland.

Pooley Bridge is at the Northern End of Ulswater. From there we took a delightful bridleway across Askham Fell.

Askham Fell above Ulswater.

We stayed off road as much as possible and joined the main Tim Woodcock route at Shap.

Crossing the River Lowther en route to Shap.

Tim Woodcock does not explore the wonderful limestone scenery between Shap and Kirkby Stephen and cruises through this area on paved lanes. Once again we deviated from the route to stay off road.

From Oddendale we followed the course of a Roman Road across Cosby Ravensworth Fell and just before Orton we left Cumbria and entered the Yorkshire Dales.

Leaving Cumbria behind

After Orton we headed North up onto Orton Scar.

We then entered the the Great Asby Scar National Nature Reserve. This area was one of the highlights of the whole ride. We didn’t see anyone else until we dropped back down to Smardale Bridge.

Great Asby Scar National Nature Reserve

Great Asby Scar National Nature Reserve

Great Asby Scar National Nature Reserve

From Asby we came back down across Crosby Garrett Fell following a bridleway.

Crosby Garrett Fell

We dropped down to Bents Farm, crossing the C2C walking route and rode a bridleway to Smardale Bridge. The onward route over Smardale Fell was great riding and we enjoyed the descent to Waitby and were on mainly paved lanes for the last few kilometres into Kirkby Stephen.

Distance: 144km
Elevation: 3037m


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