The Desert of Wales [n.]
a glorious, desolate area of the Cambrian Mountains in Mid-Wales
Travel writer John Henry Cliffe first coined the Elenydd Uplands “The Desert of Wales” in the late 1800s, because of the desolation, and wildness. Today, the sweeping hills, moors, forests, rivers, remote roads and tracks are still much the same but for the damming of several rivers and spread of man-managed forests; still desolate but for Red Kites sweeping the skies >> one vast empty oasis where
“road and river…wander side by side…into a land of mystery”
25 May – 28 May 2019
30 May – 02 June 2019
40km // +500m
80% tarmac / 20% gravel
Intro ride to our group, the area and your bikes (if hiring). We ride a 40km loop of stunning quiet roads and gravel tracks in and around the Elan Valley…
Accommodation: Pannier Basecamp
55km // +1100m
40% tarmac / 60% gravel
The real escape. We set off on an overnight bikepacking ride into the Cambrian Mountains, spending the night at a remote bunkhouse in the Desert of Wales. Expect bothy lunches and #coffeeoutside…
Accommodation: Off-Grid Bunkhouse
60km // +1400m
75% tarmac / 25% gravel
…we head back to Basecamp across dams and up famous road climbs >> pausing for lunch and a wild swim on the banks of the River Irfon. A cracking day out on the bikes, finishing up in Pannier style, with a short bike-hike over moorland…
Accommodation: Pannier Basecamp
0km // +0m
…wake up in the glorious Welsh hills for a Basecamp breakfast, social, and pack-up
“…what an adventure! I’m relatively new to cycling so I was nervous at the thought of joining 10 people in the middle of Wales for my first bikepacking trip, but the Pannier welcome was amazing. The Basecamp setup was beyond expectation and the route was really special – it genuinely felt like an escape – the landscape was made for our bikepacking adventure and although it was a challenge, the 15KPH slow travel pace made it accessible. I’m officially hooked!” // Sophie, UK
“…our four-day adventure in the middle of Wales was a fantastic experience – I can honestly say I ate better on this trip than when I’m at home! At Pannier Basecamp we were treated to a delicious curry around the campfire, and at the Overnight Bunkhouse we even made our own pizzas, with hot and cold drinks on tap throughout. As an experienced tourer, I felt every food, water and snack break was well thought out, perfectly time and, importantly, in the authentic bikepacking spirit that I’ve grown to love” // Will, UK
“This Pannier Camp has reignited my love for cycling again! Riding bikes in the wild, in Pannier style, is an entirely different experience; journeying at a speed that matches the glorious slow flow of nature, concentrating on how to negotiate the varied terrain rather than how to stay alive on main roads, and being fully exposed to the elements all make for a truly wonderful cycling experience … Oh, and ending the day with a log fire and negroni is pretty special too!” // Meg, UK
“The Desert of Wales trip was my first proper foray into gravel biking, having previously had a lot of experience with mountain bikes. From the get go, arriving at camp, there was an organised but chilled vibe and the Pannier staff were incredibly welcoming. A warm-up ride on the first day was a great sight-see around the immediate area and made for some good chat with the other tourers. The overnight leg of the trip took us to beautiful remote parts of the country where we ate exceptionally and shared story after story cruising a mix of winding gravel and sweet single-track roads. The Pannier Team put on a great show…” // Duncan, UK
>> Adventure Bike & Accessories
>> Bikepacking Bags
>> Camp Kit (sleeping bag, sleeping mat, liner)
>> Private Tent (at Basecamp)
>> 2.5 days of guided riding and adventure
>> Basecamp & bunkhouse accommodation
>> Food and drink
>> Pannier Tourer Pack: branded dry bag, branded enamel mug and spork
>> Travel to and from Pannier Basecamp
>> Riding Insurance (required for overseas tours – see FAQ)
>> Pub meal on the final evening
Basecamp is not far off NCN Route 8
Nearest Stations: Llandrindod Wells / Caersws / Hereford
Parking is available. Please let us know if you’re planning on travelling in your own vehicle. We can be in touch about opportunities for car-shares etc.
Nearest Airports: London / Cardiff / Bristol / Birmingham / Manchester / Liverpool
The boring stuff. Sorry.
To confirm your place(s) on the Camp, we require a 50% deposit. At which point, we’ll be in touch via email or over the phone to have a chat about your requirements / arrangements. Please don’t book travel to Wales until the Camp is 100% confirmed by us 🙂
Pannier (Pannier Ltd) is a Tour Operator, and is compliant with the Package Travel Regulations 1992. We do not arrange or book travel to and from our Camps/Tours.
Our Booking T&Cs need to be agreed to/signed in order to secure a place on our Camps.
Our Hire T&Cs will need to be agreed to/signed on arrival at a Pannier Basecamp, if you are hiring anything from us.
In accordance with the Package Travel Regulations, Pannier Ltd is is a company committed to customer satisfaction and consumer financial protection. At no extra cost to you, and in accordance with The Package Travel, Package Tours Regulations 1992 all passengers booking with Pannier Ltd are fully insured for the initial deposit, and subsequently the balance of monies paid as detailed in your booking confirmation form. The policy will also include repatriation if required, arising from the cancellation or curtailment of your travel arrangements due to the insolvency of Pannier Ltd. This insurance has been arranged by Towergate Chapman Stevens through Zurich Insurance PLC. Exclusions: Travel Insurance, and any claim relating to Air Flights.
Looks ace! How do I join one of the Camps?
Great. Check out the Booking Page. We require a 50% deposit to secure your place(s). Tell your friends 🙂
Is the cycling hard?
The nature of the places we ride mean that Pannier routes are curated to be challenging, but accessible. Challenging given the terrain (it’s not all flat, by any means) but accessible in the short-ish distances we ride each day.
What is the group size on your Camps?
Anywhere between 8 and 14, plus 2 x Pannier Staff. Small groups mean more access, better social, and reduced impact.
Do you run custom Camps, for groups, clubs, or companies?
Yes, they are great to run, but you’ll need to meet the min. number of 10 tourers. Please email David and Stefan at firstname.lastname@example.org for more…
I’m real keen to come, but I don’t have ANY bikepacking kit, or a suitable bike?
Our Camps are designed for both experienced bikepackers, as well as folk that have never tried it before. The minimum you need is some riding clothes, outerwear, shoes and ounce of wanderlust. We can have an adventure bikes, all the bags and camp kit you need ready for you to hire.
Do you carry everything for us?
No. For authenticity, Pannier groups are 100% self-sufficient on the road. Pannier Guides carry most of the kit and essentials, you don’t need a lot: layers for comfort on the ride and at the Overnight; ride snacks; Pannier mug and spork…
Can I join a Pannier Camp on a road bike?
Potentially, yes. We’d insist on a minimum tyre width of 33/34c, and low gearing. Please email David and Stefan at email@example.com if you have any questions…
Can you help with travel to and from Pannier Basecamp?
Yes, and even with things like car-shares once we know who is coming, but we can’t book for you. Please don’t book travel until a Camp has been confirmed by us (min. numbers)
I keep seeing you refer to yourself as the ’15KPH Club’, what does it mean?
It’s a somewhat tongue-in-cheek referal to our slow travel touring style. 15KPH has been our average pace on pretty much ever tour/trip we do – factoring in stops for photos, lunches, hot drinks, swims. Sometimes it’s even less.
What is the Basecamp accommodation like?
Ace. We’d call it off-grid glamping. The firepit area acts as a heart, around which our tipi accommodation and communal social, eating and drinking areas sit. Tipi accommodation is communal, they each sleep 5-6, layed out with your own Pannier blanket. If that’s not your thing, you can hire or bring your own private tent. We have composting loos, and a river to wash in (makeshift showers TBC), too.
What happens if the weather is bad?
We’ll enjoy riding in bad weather! Bar force majeure and dangerous conditions, the Camps will always go ahead. Pannier Staff will make informed calls on a day-to-day basis.
Do I need to wear a helmet?
We’re not pro/anti-helmet by any means, but the answer is Yes on all of our Camps and Tours. If you don’t, you’re on your own…
Do I need riding insurance?
Yes. We are a fully-insured Tour Operator but you’ll need your own personal travel insurance for your four days with us. Please email David and Stefan at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.