As the depths of winter loomed back in November, we launched our Spring 2016 Cycle Tour Bursary project. The aim? To raise excitement about the touring weather and opportunities ahead, and to inspire and enable cyclists to dream-up awesome touring plans and pedal off on their own journeys in the Pannier spirit of adventure…
On offer were two travel bursaries (£250 + Touring Kit from the Pannier Shop, courtesy of our sponsors) to the travelling cyclists that submitted the most interesting proposals for unsupported cycle tours during the Spring 2016 touring season. One bursary was available for the UK & Ireland, and one for the Rest of Europe. The deadline for applications was 23.59 on 14 January 2016, and since, we have been busy deciding on a winner for each of our two Bursaries.
Thanks so much to everyone who registered and submitted an application; the engagement was fantastic. It is hard to describe exactly what we were looking for, but hopefully the two successful proposals offer some clues – achievable, interesting journeys in places off-the-beaten-track, that celebrate the joys of slow travel and travelling by bike.
Here are our two successful proposals for Spring 2016:
1 | UK & Ireland
“LOST RUINS OF THE WILD WEST COAST”
“Georgia! What is the cycle touring journey you have planned?”
My plan is to tour the Scottish West coast from Thurso to Dumfries, skirting the coastal road and around some of the islands in search of the lost ruins along the way. There are 18 identified sites that I have researched; they are not National Heritage sites as such, but abandoned ruins. I plan to explore the sites as I ride and camp at a different site each night – access permitting – uncovering what I can behind each ruin. They vary from old abandoned mines, factories and castles, so should reveal the history of the area from a range of perspectives. This is the perfect opportunity to give the West coast a real exploration and do it justice. I imagine it will not always be possible to uncover every detail about the ruins, but I would document each site in a journal as I go: doing my best to uncover as much of its story; asking locals a bit about what they know of the site; describing their setting and atmosphere.
“How have you gone about finding all of these Lost Ruins?”
I was first drawn to the idea of ruins by David Hamilton’s book ‘Wild Ruins’ – it describes a wide range of ruin sites all around the UK. Following a description and using an OS map makes for a completely different experience – a type of cycle-orienteering – all the fun is in the hunt. I have camped in one of the old castle ruins before in Northumbria and there is something captivating about sleeping in a man-made shelter, with the eerie feeling of knowing how many people had lived, worked and slept there before you. This gave me the idea of wanting to collate of all the lost ruin sites along the coast. The book highlights a few details of some of the sites: of murderers and their buried victims, and scandals of treason and rivalries between powerful families, for example. I like the idea of seeing the layers of history and in finding other interesting sites that have not been given any notice along the way. So, I have used this book to plot the main checkpoints on the route, but of course we shall hopefully explore and expand on the route if we hear of some other interesting sites along the way.
“You applied solo – are there any touring companion(s) joining you en-route? When are you setting off, and for how long?”
Initially I was planning to tour alone, however my friend (Mook, who is a student at Edinburgh University with me) has told me she will be back from the States by late May. So, I have looked at starting the tour on the last weekend of May with her and would look to complete the tour in 10 days, looking to average about 80 miles a day. She (Mook) was one person to recommend I go to the West Coast of Scotland for a cycle tour and I have been very excited to get to those beautiful, crystal, sandy beaches since; the Pannier Bursary opportunity gave me the incentive to properly plan an interesting trip.
“At this stage, have you done much of the detailed planning, or are you happy just travelling to your start point and then back from Dumfries (Scotland) and seeing what happens along the way?”
Our starting point is Thurso – a town on the northern coast of Scotland – which we would get to by train from Edinburgh. From Thurso, we will ride west, and then south along the coast – taking ferries to get between the islands – to Dumfries, where we would get the train back to Edinburgh. We aim to wild camp for the duration of the trip…
2 | Rest of Europe
“Eloise! What is the cycle touring journey you have planned?”
The tour we have planned maps the length of former Pomerania – “Land by the Sea” – which is now part of Poland and Germany, and hugs the southern coast of the Baltic Sea. I have a personal connection to this place: my great, great grandfather was the Öberpresident of Pomerania, and while I have always known about him, I could tell you very little about either my relatives or this place. I’ve only ever had a vague idea of where Pomerania actually was! So the idea for the tour is to find out more about the region. It’s also an area of Europe which feels a bit off the beaten path, so it will be exciting to discover somewhere new; I believe it to be a beautiful area with pretty towns and villages, and also has the historic cities of Szczecin and Gdansk to explore…
“Is this a trip you’ve had on your mind for a while now?”
To be honest, not too long but I’ve always been interested in my family history, and I knew I wanted to plan a trip somewhere a bit different this year. A connection between Pomerania and cycle touring came into my head on Boxing Day – I decided it might be fun to explore this mysterious land by bike. We won’t be leaving Europe, but it seems like we are going enough off the beaten path for us to feel as though we are venturing into the unknown.
“When are you setting off, and for how long? Are you are travelling out to your start and end points, from London?”
We plan to head off in May/June – when it gets a little warmer – for a week. We will be flying to Szczecin in Poland, heading north-west from there to the border of Germany (and the former western Pomeranian border), before following the Baltic Sea coastline east to Gdansk (the eastern border of Pomerania) where we will finish.
“You applied as a pair, or group – who are your touring companion(s)? Are you doing the full journey together?”
I’ll be travelling with my partner, Harry, and (hopefully) my dad too…
“At this stage, have you done much of the detailed planning, or are you happy just travelling to your start point in Szczecin (Poland) and then back from Stralsund (Germany) and seeing what happens through Pomerania?”
“We’ve got a rough route planned, though I’m planning on working out the details a little more, such as where we will stop each day etc. I need to speak to my Grandpa to find out the places he knows about that have a connection to the family. We have a painting at my parents house of Szczecin, which has been passed down through the family, so first stop when we arrive will be to try and find the scene in the painting! If anyone has any information on anything unmissable en-route, I’d love to hear! [firstname.lastname@example.org]”
Pannier Bursary | 2016 Sponsors
Each journey will receive £250 towards their planning and on-the-road needs, as well as touring kit from the Pannier Shop, courtesy of our Bursary Sponsors: Ortlieb, MSR, Thermarest and Brooks.
Thanks again to everyone who registered and submitted their touring ideas for our first Spring Cycle Tour Bursary. Missed out this time round? Please sign up in the footer to be the first to receive news and information about the next round of applications.