Written by Dave Hartwell
There’s only one way to discover all that Dorset has to offer, and that’s by bike. From quiet country lanes and picturesque villages to seaside towns and stunning viewpoints, this beautiful county is a treasure trove for two-wheeled sightseeing.
Whether you’re up for a day-long mission or just a couple of hours on the saddle, there’s a fantastic selection of long and short distance cycle routes for all abilities. We’ve selected our top five rides, all leaving from The Watersports Academy in Sandbanks, where you can hire a bike if needed.
This is a pleasant, gentle cycle route to Bournemouth Pier and back, following the promenade and beach all the way. You’ll pass quaint beach chines and seaside cafes, where you can stop for a snack or ice cream along the way. You could extend your route by following the same promenade all the way to Hengistbury Head, which enjoys glorious views of the Isle of Wight. If there weather’s good, you’ll be able to cast your eyes all the way back to where you started.
Average time needed: 30 minutes x 2
Degree or difficulty: Paved cycle trail and no hills
Please note the promenade is closed for cyclists during the summer season (1st July – 31st August)
An enjoyable route to traditional Poole Quay and back, you’ll discover the world-renowned Poole Pottery, Poole Museum, traditional fishermen buildings, shops, eateries and even an exclusive marina full of glamorous and beautiful boats. During your ride you’ll pass through stunning Poole Park, which enjoys its own cycle trail and views of the harbour, Brownsea Island and lush playing fields.
Average time needed: 35 minutes x 2
Degree or difficulty: Road, paved cycle trail and one hill
Old Harry Rocks
This medium-length route takes you along the Sandbanks Peninsula, over the Sandbanks Ferry and onto the gateway of the Purbecks. You’ll cycle along picturesque country roads that cut through stunning marshlands filled with wildlife. Keep your eye out for pheasants and even the odd deer. Then stop and take in the view after Knoll Beach turn-off – it’s simply breathtaking. Carry on to reach traditional Studland Village and you’re nearly there. Follow the uneven walkway to Old Harry Rocks and the start of Ballard Downs – you’ll be amazed at the views.
If you have a little extra time, take a short detour to South Beach just before the Old Harry Rocks lane and enjoy a cuppa at Joe’s Café. Or if you fancy something stronger, try the Bankes Arms for some delicious Dorset Cider.
Average time needed: 60 minutes x 2
Degree or difficulty: Road, one off-road section, hilly in parts but easily manageable
This invigorating ride takes you on the Sandbanks Ferry, through Studland and further into Dorset’s lush countryside. The scenery along the way is absolutely breathtaking, such as the viewpoint situated just after Isle of Purbeck Golf Course. Your journey is very easy just stay on the same road until you reach a T-junction and look up – you’ve arrived at Corfe Castle. Turn left to go into the magical village and if you have time, take a tour around the historical castle.
Looking for more? 300m before Isle of Purbeck Golf Course there’s a National Trust pathway, which takes you to Agglestone Rock. Legend has it that the devil threw the rock from The Needles on the Isle of Wight with the intention of hitting Corfe Castle. He missed by a long shot!
Average time needed: 90 minutes x 2
Degree or difficulty: Winding country roads, steep hills in parts
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