A weekend of guided adventure cycling in one of the most remote corners of the UK
Travelling point-to-point on a bike- carrying everything you need- is one of the purest forms of travel, and the Pannier Borders Tour encompasses everything that is great about cycle touring, with a little added luxury.
Starting in the rolling hills of Shropshire, this four day, 250km route follows single track roads up and over Long Mynd, the highest point in Shropshire, before heading west towards the Welsh border and beyond, through the Elan Valley. A combination of tranquil country lanes, gravel tracks and bridleways through a sprawling, often wild but always beautiful landscape, leaves you feeling fully detached from the real world.
For the first edition, I was invited along to ride the tour, which after months of obvious planning from the Pannier team, works brilliantly to create an authentic adventure cycling experience with a few well thought out home comforts to enjoy along the way. Think hearty breakfasts cooked on the camp fire, craft blend coffee, artisan cheese boards, and boutique camping set-ups to arrive at after a day riding.
The first night’s accommodation was under the stars in bivvies (which can be hired for the trip) in the Shropshire hills, the second night was spent in the Pannier tipi which was erected at a remote campsite on the outskirts of Rhayader, and the third in an off-grid bunkhouse in the Cambrian Mountains. Each night was different in its location and set-up, but had the same formula applied to create a comfortably wild night out.
Cyclists with their own adventure/cross bike and kit are invited to bring their own, but for road cyclists, or cyclists interested in getting into bikepacking but without the necessary kit, full bike and kit hire is available for the trip.
The custom Surly Straggler has been modified with a forest green paint job and appropriate 15kph decals to remind the rider of the Pannier ethos. On the roads (of which there are few on this route) the Straggler rides nicely, comfortably munching the miles. But it’s on the forest tracks and bridleways where the Surly excels, even fully loaded with camping kit packed into Revelate outpost bags.
Aside from great mixed-terrain riding, comfortable yet wild accommodation, and good food throughout, other highlights included stopping at a bothy deep in the Cambrian mountains for a much needed coffee and Welsh cake..
… and meeting a Rough Stuff cycling group at the bunkhouse on the final night. The group of older riders were in the area for two days of circular rides starting and finishing at the bunkhouse. I couldn’t resist asking to take a portrait.
For more information on the upcoming tours, or to get some more adventure cycling inspiration visit https://www.pannier.cc/tours-events/borders-tour