The word ‘adventure’, that’s the key. If like me, you’re used to heading out on roads and lanes, battling with traffic and seeking out those roads on which you have to share the space just a little less, Pannier may offer you a lifestyle shift from which there is no looking back…
Pannier’s Borders Tour is the first in their series of 2-3 night bikepacking tours that have been curated to demonstrate the capabilities of a bike to provide escapism in its truest form; real authentic adventure cycling experiences. This route winds through and across wild moorlands, threads through forests and skirts along remote reservoir tracks. Wild horses are your only companions on these untapped roads, and without the constant distraction of traffic you can immerse yourself in the landscape and the hedonistic pleasures of riding a bike through them. Abbeys, dams, fallen trees and lonely telephone boxes provide waypoints from which to navigate by and to regroup with your fellow cyclists. As you ride, the sounds of the forest, rushing water and twigs cracking beneath your tyres add a glorious new dimension to the journey that may be unfamiliar to those of us used to riding in busier locations…
“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 few added home comforts.”
Though the terrain is undoubtedly challenging and the weather at times boisterous, the whole experience seems somewhat luxurious given the added few home comforts and attention to detail (compared to a DIY bikepacking trip). Stefan, the founder of Pannier, has clearly coined it the 15KpH Club for a reason: pauses are fairly regular, well timed and located with some memorable experiences. For example, a sharp right turn away from the single-track moonscape and across boggy moorland takes us to the open door of an idyllic stone bothy; inside freshly brewed coffee and welsh cakes are the order of the day. At another typical ’15KpH Club’ pause a Pannier branded watermelon (see photo) is calved with an axe after a wild swim in a perfectly sited hill stream.
It’s these breaks from riding, as much as the route itself that demonstrate the care with which the weekend has been planned. Each of them offers a unique cycle travel experience that goes far beyond purely the necessity of refuelling.
“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.”
The evenings off the bike provide campfire camaraderie the likes of which you could only hope for. The Pannier tepees are stocked with all the supplies to make Stef’s famed Negronis and at some point in the evening a local farmer delivers fresh scones and dry wood to refill the fire pit. After two nights under canvas, the final night of the trip is spent in an isolated bunkhouse. The shared kitchen is filled with the smells of slow roasted pork and vegetables, the source of which turns to be the AGM of the Rough Stuff Fellowship, an adventure cycling group founded in the 1950s. After exchanging some excess supplies, we stay up illuminated by the bunkhouse gas lamps and swap stories of adventures had, and those yet to come.
“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 don’t yet have the necessary kit, Pannier offer full bike and kit hire for their tours…”
For anyone who has picked up a copy of Boneshaker or stalked the adventure cycling tags and longed to try riding in a different style, this is the weekend for you. The opportunity to hire kit takes all of the hassle out of organising a trip, and allows for the weekend to feel long, wild and truly off-grid; an experience I won’t forget for a long time…
Alex Turner & Elliott Waring
(For Elliott’s own account, check out his piece over on See Outside)
Our Borders Tour is a three-night tour, and starts at £255.
Tours like these are a long term project for us, into 2018 and beyond. However, two official dates run in September 2017 (14-17th September and 21-24th September) which are available to book onto now, the second of which is a Brooks England associated ‘Break-In’ tour, starting with a tour of the factory where tourers pick themselves a brand new saddle to break in over the 240km. See our Borders Tour page for more details.
Sound like your camp mug of tea? Please register on the website below for news our future tours and join the Pannier 15KPH Club.
Over and out…