The route was launched on 1 June 2005 to complement the popular Sea to Sea Cycle Route (C2C) that runs from Whitehaven to Sunderland. It is designed to be slightly harder and longer than this other route, totalling either 149 or 151 miles (240 or 243 km). When launched the route used sections of NCN Routes 72, 68 and 71 west of the Pennines. From Tan Hill to Sunderland a new Regional Route was created and given the number 20, with a blue background. In 2012, after improvements to meet National Cycle Network standards, it was upgrade to National Route 70. Route signs were changed to the number 70 with a red background. Around the same time the sections on the route that had previously been Route 71 and 72 were re-signed as Route 70. In 2007 a southern branch from Barnard Castle to Whitby was added. Orignaly classified as regional route 52, it was upgraded to National Cycle Route 165 in 2012. The Walney to Whitby route is 179 miles (288 km).
W2W Route Map
The W2W is a Y shaped route with one western leg from Walney to Barnard Castle, and two eastern legs Barnard Castle to Sunderland (northern) and Barnard Castle to Whitby (Southern).
103 miles (166 km) Walney to Barnard Castle
- From Walney Island in the Irish Sea ( it goes on to the industrial port of )Barrow-in-Furness
- It then runs through the Furness peninsula, passing towns such as Ulverston and the picturesque Grange-Over-Sands where the route follows the Promenade.
- The route continues to skirt the Lake District national park towards the historical market town of Kendal
- After this, the path continues northwards, before moving in an easterly direction towards Kirkby Stephen and through the Pennines to Barnard Castle in County Durham
North Eastern Leg
49 miles (79 km) Barnard Castle to Sunderland
- The northerly spur passes through Hamsterley, to reach the beautiful cathedral city of Durham. National Route 715 between Barnard Castle and Willington is an alternative W2W route. It is 2 miles (3.2 km) shorter and easier ride via Bishop Auckland.
- The final 18 miles (29 km) of the W2W follows the River Wear to the North Sea at Sunderland ().
South Eastern Leg
76 miles (122 km) Barnard Castle to Whitby
- From Barnard Castle the route descends off the Durham Dales along the lower Tees Valley for 20 miles (32 km)to Croft-on-Tees near Darlington.
- Continuing on flat roads for 27 miles (43 km) until it reaches the North York Moors at Great Ayton.
- Following the Eskdale for the final 27 miles (43 km) the route cross the River Esk 5 times before reaching Whitby. This section includes serval steep climbs and descents, some of them are on off road tracks.
- "W2W renumbered to Route 70 / 165". W2W cycle route. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
- Sustrans (2007). Discover Three Rivers : cycle routes map. Bristol: Sustrans. ISBN 1901389685.
- "Walney to Wear [and Whitby] (W2W) - Map". Sustrans. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
- "W2W — Grange Promenade now open for cycling". cyclingw2w.info.
- The official website of the W2W
- Wearside Sustrans website with links to details on the route in Wearside