Autumn is a great time of year to explore Dorset by bike.
We’re still getting some lovely sunny days, but now that the weather is cooling down, cycling is that little bit easier – especially if you’re going up hill!
If you’re new to cycling or getting back in the saddle after a break, why not try out these short and mostly flat cycle routes.
There are places to stop along the way for something to eat or drink or simply enjoy the view. Four of the routes are linear routes, meaning that you can stop cycling at any point and head back to your start point along the same track – which is great for cycling newbies or families with young children.
Each of these routes has a route map which you can download as a GPX file to your smartphone or fitness device. This makes following the route that little bit easier - some of the routes are also signposted.
Poole Quay to Whitecliff
This easy and flat linear route is 3 miles in total.
Start off at Poole Quay and cycle alongside the restaurants, cafes and pubs until you pass the Thistle Hotel and RNLI Lifeboat Station. The route then turns towards Harbourside Park along a shared-use cycle/walking path next to the waters edge. You'll get fantastic views of Poole Harbour and Brownsea Island as you cycle along.
Continue through Harbourside Park to Whitecliff Recreation Ground. The route ends at Turks Lane, where you turn around and cycle back the same way to Poole Quay.
If you’ve got time and the energy, you could take a detour into Poole Park where there are two cafes, a boating lake and mini-golf.
Don’t have your own bike? You could hire a Beryl Bike to use for the day with collection and drop off points near Poole Quay.
The Trail is a 4 mile linear route between Weymouth and Portland and back again.
The Rodwell Trail follows a disused railway line, which is now a wonderfully accessible wildlife corridor used by cyclists, walkers and mobility scooters.
The route takes you past old station platforms and Sandsfoot Castle, with lovely views out across Portland Harbour towards Portland.
The Trail is also great for wildlife with many birds, plants and butterflies along the route.
Bride Valley Cycle Ride
Explore the beautiful Bride Valley in West Dorset on this 7 mile circular route.
The route starts in the small village of Littlebredy. Follow the fairly flat and winding rural lanes to two other West Dorset villages – Litton Cheney and Long Bredy.
There are places to picnic at Littlebredy or pop into the White Horse Inn pub on route for a break and refreshments.
If you're feeling energetic, you can extend this route to a longer 15 mile cycle ride down to Hive Beach at Burton Bradstock.
Hengistbury Head to Sandbanks
This is a 10 mile linear route (one-way) but you can cycle as much or as little as you want to.
The promenade between Hengistbury Head to Sandbanks is great for cycling away from roads. It’s also very scenic as its right next to golden sandy beaches.
The route passes by Southbourne Beach, Boscombe Beach and Pier, Bournemouth Beach and Pier as well as Durley Chine and Alum Chine.
You can start or stop your journey at any point - you do not have to cycle the whole length of the promenade. For example, you could cycle from Bournemouth Pier to Boscombe Pier and back again, which is about 3 miles. Or from Sandbanks to Bournemouth Pier and back is about 6 miles.
There are beachside kiosks, cafes and restaurants along the promenade to stop for a break or refreshments.
Cycle hire is available near Bournemouth Pier or you can pick up a Beryl Bike at the start of your journey and drop it off at the end point - there’s no need to take it back to the start point if you’re just cycling one-way.
North Dorset Trailway
This is a 14 mile linear route which can be split into smaller sections.
Great for new cyclists and families, you can cycle as much or as little as you want along the North Dorset Trailway. The section from Sturminster Newton to Shillingstone and back again is about 6 miles. The section from Blandford Forum to Shillingstone and back again is about 12 miles in total.
The Trailway is mainly flat, with a tarmac or fine gravel track. Large sections of the trail used to be the old Somerset and Dorset Railway which linked Bristol and Bournemouth until the 1960s.
You can read our two blogs about a 6 mile route and a 12 mile route with details about where to stop for breaks and what you’ll see along the way.