A cross country cycle route that has brought millions of pounds into the local economy - and millions more to charity - has celebrated its 20th anniversary.
The C2C cycle route from Whitehaven, in Cumbria, to Tynemouth, North Tyneside was set up in 1994 as part of the National Cycle Network and now attracts around 15,000 cyclists a year taking anything from a day to a week to complete its 140-mile route.
The C2C is the country’s most popular long-distance cycle route and uses a mixture of minor roads, disused railway lines, off-road tracks and specially constructed cycle paths.
Since being set up it has provided income for a number of businesses along the route, particularly those in the tourism and hospitality industries. It has also been highly popular with people raising money for charity
To mark its anniversary, a team from cycling charity Sustrans is this weekend cycling the route to raise money for its maintenance.
Kate Jones, national events fundraiser at Sustrans, said: “The C2C is the most popular long distance route with a staggering 15,000 people riding it every year.
“Sustrans is responsible for looking after considerable sections of the C2C and we wanted to raise money to keep the route in tip top condition to help us maintain it and slow the rate of wear and tear so thousands more people can enjoy it.”
Speaking as the group stopped to rest at Nenthead, near Alston, Kate told The Journal: “Some people have found it quite challenging as the hills are very high, but everyone’s done amazingly well.
“Thankfully, we have been so lucky with the weather. Right now, it’s very sunny and that has helped make it more manageable!”
A total of 13 volunteers took part in the challenge, which saw them leave Whitehaven in glorious sunshine on Saturday, riding 54 miles across Cumbria and the Lake District before finishing their first day in Penrith.
They spent Sunday travelling through the North Pennines, cycling up hills as high as 650m above sea level, including a stop at Hartside, where they had tea in the highest cafe in England.
The cyclists will reach Tyneside today with a ride across the Millennium Bridge before completing their journey at Tynemouth. A special celebration will be held afterwards at the Cycle Hub in Ouseburn.
Among those taking part was Jenny Martin, 50, from Bristol.
She said: “I like keeping fit and I like an active lifestyle. This is probably the most physically challenging thing I’ve ever done but it’s been absolutely stunning. I can’t believe how beautiful the route has been.
“For all the pain and hard work it’s been really worthwhile. I can see how people get addicted to cycling.”