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Bikepacking? Go on then…

Scotland was made for adventures and from today, the 15th July, we are super excited to be allowed to head out bikepacking again. 

While things are far from normal and we should be applying some common sense to our plans it does mean we can plan and ride overnight again.

It is important to note that MBA Bothies remain closed currently so bivvy bags and tents are the way to bikepack.  

Our Ed is a seasoned bikepacker having travelled around the world by bike and had some incredible adventures in many different terrains. If you get the chance ask him for a couple of stories – please do, you wont be disappointed! 

Ed was the perfect person to tap for some tips to start your bikepacking adventures;

How to plan

Plan your route carefully, while mountain rescue are operating it is still best we don’t take too many risks still. Stick to routes you’ve done before or stay on tracks. 

Try to avoid areas you know will be busy and especially in vulnerable rural communities. While businesses need your support so stop to buy a coffee or dinner remember a lot of people will be nervous about visitors. Remember your facecovering – buffs come in handy.

Pack early and double check, it’s been a while so if you’re like me you’re likely to forget something. Take a plastic trowel to properly bury any ‘calls of nature’ in the wilds.

Don’t drop litter or start fires in fresh places, I expect we’re all shocked by some of the littering we’ve seen on social media so not only don’t drop litter but stop to pick up items you find (if safe to do so).

If you are new to bikepacking then stay local and have a test 'overnighter' before going into the wilds of the highlands! It’s best to find you’re missing a tent pole close to home or discovering your new bags rub on the wheels after a while.

Also check out the guidance in the Scottish Outdoor Access Code regarding wild camping in Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park - From 1st March 2017, seasonal byelaws came into effect which mean that camping in certain areas of the National Park is only permitted within campsites or with a camping permit. Please make sure you plan ahead. 

Where to Go

I’m not going to share exact routes because I still think part of the fun is planning your own adventure on a map, but here are the areas I love in Scotland that might work well for that first adventure back;

I think the areas around Galloway Forest park and Loch Ken in the South West are beautiful for adventures and normally on quiet trails. 

There are endless empty spaces to explore between Tyndrum, Loch Rannoch up to Ben Alder or across to Laggan is another favorite area to bikepack. Lots of safe but wild tracks in this area.

The Cairngorm outer loop can be started in Pitlochrie, Aviemore or Braemar and is a rewarding route mostly on tracks, but it is a potentially a busy option next weekend!

Finally I love the area around Aborfoyle to Callander and up to Comrie has plenty of bikepacking potential without travelling to remote parts of the Highlands.

Wild camping in Scotland: the essentials

We have checked a lot of the guidance out there to help first time wild campers and bike packers and found that the information from Mountaineering Scotland to be superb.  We urge you to check this out too.  Really useful guidance on the following:-

Tent/Bivvy

Campsite Hygiene

Location

Fires

Cooking

Toilet Matters

Leave No Trace

Keeping it Dry

Scottish Brands to check out and get you started

Shand Bikes make a great range of bikepacking rigs handbuilt in Scotland. Check them out

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Straight Cut Design make a full range now of bikepacking bags in Edinburgh. Check them out

Straightcut

AND FINALLY - Other essential kit.  Don’t forget some Stoats bars and maybe a cheeky wee Tunnocks.  Also we find a dram of Ardbeg or Lagavulin is very much needed to show your support for the Islands.

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