Bikepacking the Southern Uplands from the door.

With Saturday afternoon fast disappearing before me, I strapped my Apidura saddle and bar bags onto the bike, found my lights and headed out of the front door. I didn’t take a map as I know the area well, despite having it in my mind to explore a new variation. I was headed to a Bothy on a route that was. like the best adventures, subject to change but would take in some of the best views and gravel riding around.


From Peebles I was up to the Southern Upland Way and east to the Three Brethen – three towers that make the boundaries of three ancient sounding ‘shires. The ribbons were still blowing in the wind from the last common riding (horses) along the boundaries of one of these Shires that takes place every summer.

From here I headed to the town of Selkirk a traditional Borders market town that was closing down for the day.

A spin along the river took me to Bowhill Estate and onto gravel tracks up into the woodlands. From here I headed further east, when full on twilight was fast approaching and I’d stupidly left a rear light only loosely clipped to my Apidura saddle pack. On the rough gravel descent I’d lost it, it was my favourite crazy bright Lezyne Zecto one too (I’m still annoyed with myself!). I now wanted to keep off the busier roads ASAP with no rear light so I detoured to the reservoirs of Meggett at sunset;

As I got higher I reached the view over Talla’s shimmering surface with night lights on full.

This route was part of my planning for a rather epic challenge for 2019. A route that takes in 12 of the area’s biggest summits. I will post my 5 best local gravel routes on the blog soon as they are about done and I need just one more ride to reveal what ‘The 12 Peaks’ what I think could be a new classic challenge for the area!

Having a baby means we’ve stayed home a lot more and it also means I have been out from my door and explored pretty much every single track, forest and valley in the local area. Sometimes I find awesome link ups and others dead ends, but I love the exploring part. To ride the same route twice is simply boring and with so many options I literally haven’t taken my Tripster ATR the same way twice in 2018 and that’s something I hope to keep up for the rest of the year.

To plot and plan these rides I have been using GPS files onto the new Mega XL Lezyne GPS. It has a new mapping function using Open source maps to aid navigation that is super useful for sharing routes, combined with 48hr battery life it’s a great little device. From here it was off road again towards my night’s accommodation.

The track to the bothy was actually rideable the whole way up to my surprise. Then as I approached the place I saw the river crossing. After a pretty flat out and tiring late afternoon ride I wasn’t super excited about an icy ankle experience, but I had no choice. Shoes off and socks too and a stumble across the river in the darkness. It is also a place to watch it doesn’t rain too much overnight!

The clear sky was perfect for some bothy based night photography;

Given that I was after a good nights sleep I was relieved to find the place to myself. While it’s great to meet people I was not in the mood for a snorer in a bothy on this occasion! It’s getting less and less common to not have company these days as bothy bagging gains momentum and finding your way to  bothys is so easy.

A good selection of reading material in a well kept bothy is good combination;

I forgot a spork so it was eating with a well washed tyre lever for breakfast porridge! The night had seen the first proper frost of the new winter approaching and the weather continued to be pretty much perfect for the ride out.

Past Talla reservoir and it’s awesome reflections and it was a combination of roads and tracks again for day 2.

The light was perfect in the autumn colours;

I wasn’t riding too far on Sunday as I had a flight to catch at 5pm that evening from Edinburgh airport. I was off to ride bikes in Denmark for work on Monday.

As I got home, it was all go to unpack, repack and catch a bus to the airport. That night I arrived on the west coast of Denmark and fell asleep listening to the waves crash beyond the sand dunes. It was then onto mountain bikes to explore the Slettesstrand trails with Kristian and Esben

Any thoughts or questions?

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