Our Borders Tour defines escaping by bike.

From the industrial heartlands of Birmingham - home to the Brooks England saddle-making factory - we head straight out to the Heart of England countryside before riding off along the Border, into the wild expanses of mid-Wales on a point-to-point journey taking in famous touring roads and less-discovered tracks. After exploring the historic region of Radnorshire and the Elan and Irfon Valleys, we rejoin the Border in the Black Mountains before finishing on the pictureseque outskirts of Hay-on-Wye: the quintessentially British "town of books"... 


At the end of each day, you'll arrive into our Pannier Camps, free to gather around the campfire or in our stove-heated tipi(s) for communal drinks and food. On the middle evening, we'll be recouping in B&B style accommodation. Off-the-bike highlights include the Brooks England Tour, a number of wild swim opportunities, numerous abbey and remote bothy coffee-brewing stops, local delicacy sampling, campfire cooking, time in Hay-on-Wye ... and bog-snorkelling?


So, what has industrial Birmingham got to do with Mid-Wales? Back in 1892, not long after Brooks England had started making saddles at their factory, the Birmingham Corporation Water Department took a big punt and bought 45,562 acres of Elan / Claerwen River gathering grounds in order to dam and flood the valleys; a response to rapidly growing demand for clean water. The impressive engineering scheme was opened in 1904 and, ever since, water from the Caban Coch, Careg Dhu, Pen-Y-Gareg and Craig Goch reservoirs is carried by gravity the 117km to Birmingham, via the Elan Aqueduct. 

"I want to...intrigue you to follow me on a wonderful voyage of discovery into the very heart of the principality from where the great flow of water to the great industrial area of the Midlands is obtained. Let me ask you. "Have you ever met anyone who has travered the Claerwen Valley through to the Teifi Lakes?" You haven't? Neither have I. Well you, citizens of Birmingham, this great watershed is yours. Believe me, it is grand hiking country and it is calling me"              [Up the Claerwen, Sid Wright. 1948]

Following a drought in 1937, the valley Sid Wright refers to was also flooded to establish the Claerwen reservoir, which equalled the combined capacity of three of the others put together. We follow in his tracks...

  • Day 1

    Birmingham > Shropshire HillsApprox. 25km
    Meet in Birmingham for a tour of the Brooks England Factory. From there, we'll transfer out to a Pannier Camp in the Shropshire Hills, hand out bikes & kit and head off on an initial trial ride: Long Mynd "England's Little Switzerland" before heading back for dinner & social...
    Included: Brooks Tour, Dinner
  • Day 2

    Shropshire Hills > Elan ValleyApprox. 80km
    Rolling hills and forest tracks along the English/Welsh border, before dropping into the wild moorland valleys south of Rhayader. Easing into the Tour nicely...
    Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Day 3

    Elan Valley > Irfon ValleyApprox. 75km
    You won't see many people today - skirting around remote reservoirs, through epic forests and following the contours of river valleys - with a coffee break at a bothy. A challenging day, rewarded by the remoteness of Elenydd "the desert of Wales" and a night's recoup in the small town of Llanwyrtd Wells - the home of Bike Bog Snorkelling...
    Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Accommodation
  • Day 4

    Irfon Valley > Hay-on-WyeApprox. 120km
    An early start from Llanwyrtd Wells, riding through Brecon into the Black Mountains. We'll follow Offa's Dyke (the border) up Gospel Pass for sundown over the expansive Wye Valley below Hay Bluff. It's an awesome descent into Hay-on-Wye from there...
    Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Day 5

    Hay-on-Wye > Birmingham0km
    Awake in the hills outside Hay-on-Wye, before heading into the quintessential "town of books" slap-bang on the border to discover some of the cafes and shops. We'll then transfer back to Birmingham for early-afternoon...
    Included: Breakfast

  • Curated mixed-terrain routes in the UK's best riding locations; real escapes
  • Turn up with just a bag and enjoy an adventure cycling experience on one of our Surly adventure bikes loaded with the best camping and other kit included. Or bring your own (subject to checks). Peace of mind.
  • Pannier Guides are experienced riders, qualified tour leaders and outdoor first aiders. We have toured extensively, some have ridden around the world...
  • Social. Riding with other adventure cyclists, in small groups
  • Authenticity. Our tours reflect the experience of a challenging adventure cycling trip, just with some home comforts in the evenings. A steady pace, riding in all weathers, carrying some of your own gear, communal camping and eating. Background support, when essential. Sometimes it's not as glamorous as it looks on Instagram, but you know that.
  • One Price. With the exception of the odd food stop, everything is included. Even Route Beers and Gin around the campfire...
  • Pre-tour discount in the Pannier Shop, and access to post-trip deals
  • Meet
    Central Birmingham (Lunch-time)
  • Accommodation
    Pannier Camps / B&B
  • Finish
    Central Birmingham (Early-Afternoon)
  • Tour Duration
    5 days / 4 nights
  • Group Size
  • Total Distance
    Approx. 300km
  • Bike & Kit Hire
    Bikes and all kit available; recommended
  • Terrain
    67% Paved, 33% Un-Paved
    All included, minus one evening meal
  • Difficulty
    Moderate > Tough
Selected date: None selected
Total Trip Cost: £2500
Deposit Payable Now: £0

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