The Reiver Raid is a new bikepacking route in the Ale Water Valley in the Scottish Borders, which has been developed by round the world singlespeed bikepacker and Capital Trail founder Markus Stitz. Since his return from the epic 34,000km singlespeed trip last September, Markus has focussed on setting up Bikepacking Scotland with the aim to develop new bikepacking routes in Scotland.
The Reiver Raid is the direct result of an MBTAG event where Markus met Teyl de Bordes from Whitmuir Farm in February. Teyl, who is part of the local tourism group Ale Water Valley Co-operative, runs a local farm business in this part of the Scottish Borders. After a short visit to the region and a few conversations with Teyl, Markus spent a week in a cottage at Whitmuir Farm to discover the opportunities the valley has to offer, simply by riding as much trails as possible in one week and combining them afterwards to a bikepacking loop.
Markus says about the process of creating the route: ‘Developing a route in that way was an interesting experiment for me. I had no clue whether or not I will find enough good trails to create a loop, or if I spent a week simply looking to understand that there’s not enough on offer. Having been to many fine bikepacking destinations on my round the world trip, my standards to judge routes are very high. It was raining most of the week, which made the process much harder. But after an intense week riding and documenting everything and many changes of clothes, I had enough good trails to create a 175km loop, which is fun to ride.’
At ca. 175 km the Reiver Raid is a great route for a weekend, starting at Tweedbank train station. With about 4000m of climbing it is not an easy route, but has fantastic views and trails on offer. It takes its name from the infamous Border Reivers, who were raiders along the Anglo-Scottish border in the late 13th century to the beginning of the 17th century.
The short film, a documentary about the Reiver Raid, was filmed and directed by Fynn Elkington from FoSho video, who has worked with Markus on various other projects in the past. It is as much about the route as it is about Markus’ personal views on bikepacking, narrating the video with his close friend Jay Lamb. Jay was one of the riders at the 2015 Capital Trail and has since helped Markus to develop the Central Belter, another new route to be finished soon. Since his return from the round the world trip Jay and Markus have developed a close friendship through their joint bikepacking adventures.
The social aspect of bikepacking is something Markus would really like to get across in the film: ‘When I thought about the idea of the video with Fynn I knew straight away that Jay needs to be in there. If it wouldn’t have been for the Capital Trail, I would have possibly never met Jay. When I started thinking about a new route through the Central Belt he contacted me, as it runs basically past his cottage. And since that day we kept on riding new trails together, and became very good friends.’