Bike packing bothy trip in Mid Wales.
Recently I was asked if I could come along and photograph three ladies taking on a two day adventure through the wilds of Mid Wales for Bike Radar. Hmmmm….. I pondered for a whole 2 seconds and agreed of course. There’s only a few things I like more than riding my bike and camping out in the wild and hunkering down in the relative comfort of a bothy is one of them.
Unfortunately, there was going to be a slight hicup to this great adventure… me!! The week before, I headed out on my road bike to test the legs on a decent length ride. After 50km I was dropping into the remote village of Tregaron where a mixture of me thinking that I was in a downhill race and a plastic disc sat in the middle of the road, resulted in me in a ditch upside down, the bike wrapped around me and a pretty nasty mess under my knee. After 12 stitches and hours in A&E, I realised I may have to pull out off the upcoming trip; luckily this was not the case, I know the area fairly well I decided I could hike and drive around the place and catch them in key areas.
On the upside, this meant I was at the bothy an hour or so before they arrived. I lit the fire to get the snug nice and warm in readiness to dry any wet clothes. It also meant I had time to make a brew and sit at the window reading the comments book, which was full of past adventures by people from all over the UK. For me, these small moments mean so much, a chance to travel back in time where we didn’t have all the modern day technologies that we rely so heavily on.
Once the girls unpacked their gear from the bikes, they headed in to the (pre warmed) bothy and the chatting about the day’s adventures started. I felt heartbroken not to be riding but pulling out the wine and cheese soon helped to ease my pain.
Once the civilised entrées had been consumed, we sat down to a feast of chicken fajitas and continued with the stories and tales of previous adventures. This is one of the reasons why I love bothies, unlike wild camping, you are all sat around a table or next to a roaring fire under a sound roof in the knowledge that the wind and rain isn’t going to get near you.
With our bellies full and the roll mats and sleeping bags laid out, it was time to start thinking about getting our heads down for the night. Well, that was the plan… As I popped out to get some night time shots of the bothy, a stream of head torches appeared from the door and three ladies started to run around waving their arms in what I hoped was a preplanned motion.
Morning broke, breakfast was demolished and the bothy was cleaned. I tend to make the fire and stack some wood ready for the next visitors if possible. There is a bothy code, the basics are to leave the place clean and tidy, and if possible leave behind something that will help the following visitors.
This was the moment I really felt left out, as they left the bothy and crossed the river I knew they were making their way to the Goethe Valley, possibly one of the best sections of single track to ride in the UK.
After a few crossings on the Tywi track, I meet them again before they head off to the remote Doethie Valley. There was no easy way for me to get in, so this was the moment I said my fairwells and left them to finish this amazing micro adventure.
So this is where my short photo blog ends, all I can say is, grab the maps, plan a route and head out as soon as you can. One night out in the wild can feel like a massive adventure and will fuel your mind with many ideas for the future and bring many stories to the table when your next sat in the pub.
Some handy links for you to look at kit and get inspired.
Here is the link to the article in Bike Radar