Visitors to Dorset have long hailed it as one of the finest counties in England, from its majestic coastline to beautiful nature reserves, it truly incorporates most of the finest aspects of the great outdoors.
Yet, despite this, Dorset has long remained one of the UK’s ‘hidden’ cycling destinations, but that appears to be changing, and once you take a closer look, you begin to understand why.
Along with the fact that the county is one of best in the country in terms of weather, Dorset also allows for a variety of cycling. You can coast along the top of the spectacular and famous Jurassic coastline, which provides mesmerising views of the sea and wonderful beaches below, many of which can be easily accessed by bike.
And away from the coastline, the county provides unspoilt villages, wildlife-filled countryside and undulating country lanes to explore. All of this is possible due to the sparse population (outside of Bournemouth and Poole) that Dorset enjoys, making it an attractive prospect for riders of all abilities to enjoy a traffic-free ride.
If that was not convincing enough, here are some of the best cycle rides in Dorset to emphasise the change in popularity.
Best Family Ride – Rempstone Ride
Finding a cycle route which can be enjoyed by all the family, yet be rewarding enough for the experienced cyclist, can be difficult. However, Dorset is blessed with a number of wonderful opportunities and none more so that the Rempstone Ride.
This mainly off-road 12-mile route takes you past most of Dorset’s trademark geography. From roaming fields to Poole harbour and from dense woodland filled with wildflowers to fabulous beaches, you will get to see a bit of everything. The ride also makes excellent use of the lovely and traffic-free Rempstone Estate to provide miles of tranquil forest bridleway for those less experienced riders.
There are various starting points, however, the accessible Norden car park tends to be the most popular. It is recommended that you allow for between 3 hours and a full day of riding to complete the circuit, depending on the level of ability and how many ‘required’ breaks you plan in.
Lastly, due to the sandy or muddy nature of some sections of the ride, it is advised that a mountain or hybrid bike be used.
Best Off-Road Ride – Okeford Hill Mountain Bike Park
For those looking to forget all about urban life and break free from the roads, Dorset provides some excellent options. North Dorset has garnered a reputation as the place to go with the Upper Piddle Valley tour the standout for those looking for a long and challenging ride.
Despite not technically being a single ride, the Okeford Hill Mountain Bike Park offers the best off-road biking in the county. It has received numerous positive reports over the last five years for the range of trails it provides. From exhilarating downhills to technical single tracks there is an option to cater for riders of all abilities.
The park also offers a couple of memorable features. It has a teaching skills area for those wanting to work on specific parts, while it also enjoys the luxury of offering an uplift to save wasted energy in getting back to the top of the trails.
Mountain bikes and full helmets are recommended to enjoy this park to its potential.
Best Overall Ride – Purbeck Cycle Ride
The Purbeck cycle ride is a must for any committed or amateur cyclist in the UK.
This wonderful 47-mile route encircles remarkable coastal views, exquisite rural scenery and an abundance of historic landmarks including the well renowned Corfe Castle. You will also be given the chance to pedal through some charming towns, offering more coffee and cakes than you envisioned before setting off.
The true beauty of this ride is that it can be attacked in several different ways. For those dedicated cyclists who are looking to test themselves, the loop provides a stern challenge with some lovely climbs and flat tracks to set a great pace. However, there are also a number of Dorset holiday cottages catering for cyclists along the route for those looking to break the loop up over a couple of days to explore every landmark and coffee shop.
As most of the cycling is set on public roads, and depending on your preferred rate of travel, a performance road bike or touring bike would be recommended.
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