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Six of the best Dorset Cycling Trails & Routes

Dorset is one of the most bike-friendly counties in the UK, with a variety of wonderful cycling routes and trails to explore. Whether you prefer a family bike ride through enchanted woodlands or a more challenging route across hilly terrain, you are truly spoilt for choice when it comes to places to get on your bike in Dorset!

Cycling routes in Dorset

The LiveWell team has hand-selected six of our own favourite cycling routes in Dorset, all of which showcase some of the best scenery this county has to offer!

1. Castleman Trailway

This traffic-free, 16-mile route offers a gentle, scenic ride through some of East Dorset's most stunning scenery. Much of the trail follows the old Southampton to Dorchester railway line and passes through charming market towns, mystical woodlands and scenic riverside spots. You’ll also cycle alongside meadows bursting with wildflowers in spring and summer - perfect for a pitstop to enjoy a picnic!

  • Distance: 16 miles
  • Duration: 2 hours
  • Difficulty level: Easy to moderate
  • Start: Ringwood (Follow green and yellow Castleman Trailway Logo)
  • Finish: Upton Country Park, Poole

 

2. North Dorset Trailway

This wonderful trailway largely tracks the old Somerset and Dorset railway line which linked Bristol and Bournemouth up until the late 1960s. The route also follows the valley of the River Stour - a haven for wildlife such as otters and kingfishers. Along the way, you’ll take in the scenic views of Hambledon Hill and wind through the quaint Georgian town of Blandford Forum before completing the trail in Sturminster Newton.  The path en route is wide and well-surfaced and avoids the busy A357, making it safe for cyclists of all ages.

  • Distance: 13 miles
  • Duration 1.5 – 2 hours
  • Difficulty level: Easy to moderate - mostly flat with a few gentle inclines
  • Start: Spetisbury
  • Finish: Barnes Close, Sturminster Newton

 

3. The Sika Trail loop

If you’re looking for one of the most enchanting cycle routes in Dorset, look no further than the Sika Trail, which guides you through the wonderful Wareham Forest, a haven for flora and fauna. Soak up the beautiful scenery and keep an eye out for the elusive Sika deer, the inspiration for the trail's name. This route is mostly flat with paved surfaces, making it suitable for all fitness and skill levels.

  • Distance: 9 miles
  • Duration: 1 hour
  • Difficulty level: Easy – mostly flat with paved surfaces
  • Start: Wareham Train Station
  • Finish: Wareham Train Station

 

4. The Rodwell Trail

A pleasant, fully surfaced two-mile path, this trail is part of National Cycle Route 26 (Portland to Portishead) which connects the centre of Weymouth to the Isle of Portland. This popular route can get busy and you will need to share the trail with pedestrians, but the sights along the way make it all worthwhile, including glorious views out across Portland Harbour towards Portland and the giant Olympic Rings which serve as a monument to the sailing action from the 2012 London Olympic Games.

  • Distance: 2 miles
  • Duration: Approximately 30 – 45 minutes
  • Difficulty level: Easy - mostly flat, suitable for families
  • Start: Abbotsbury Road, Westham
  • Finish: Portland Beach Road

 

5. Stour Valley Way

One of the LiveWell team’s favourites, this winding trail follows the course of the River Stour through the idyllic Dorset countryside and guides you through some stunning landscapes. The full 64-mile route takes in Hambledon Hill in North Dorset, Dudsbury Iron Age hillfort in East Dorset and finally Hengistbury Head overlooking Christchurch Bay. If you prefer something a little less challenging, there are also plenty of shorter routes available, all of which are ideal for tranquillity seekers or wildlife lovers. Although this a predominately flat cycle ride, there are some hills to contend with along the way, depending on which route you choose.

  • Distance: 2 - 64 miles
  • Duration: 30 mins – all day
  • Difficulty level: Easy to intermediate/challenging
  • Start: Hengistbury Head, Christchurch
  • Finish: Stourhead, Wiltshire

 

6. Horton tower circular

Named after the 300-year-old red-brick Gothic landmark that stands seven storeys high, the Horton Tower Loop is a mixture of gravel tracks, bridleways and quiet lanes, part of which includes the Holt heath Nature Reserve. Suitable for cyclists of all ages and abilities, there is also the option to combine the trail with the Witchampton Cycle Route which extends the distance to 22 miles.

  • Distance: 10 miles
  • Duration: 45 mins – 1 hour
  • Difficulty level: Easy
  • Start: White Sheet car park, Holt
  • Finish: White Sheet car park, Holt

 

Want to find more cycling routes in Dorset?

Cycling is fun, social and a great way to experience this beautiful county we are lucky enough to call home. It’s also a great way to get fit and active! If you prefer to cycle as part of a group, use our activity finder tool to find cycling clubs near you or if you’re looking to get more active in general, Register with LiveWell Dorset today and receive personalised advice from our team of LiveWell coaches. We’ve helped thousands of people across Dorset live happier, healthier lives and we’d love to help you too!

Further reading

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