Best Cycling Routes in Dorset
With two-thirds of Dorset sitting in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, bike rides here promise the most magical scenery. If you’re putting the wheels in motion for your Dorset holiday, here are our top picks for some of the best cycling routes.
Some meander gently along family-friendly trails with showstopping views, while others require some serious stamina, but all are within reach of the Silverlake Estate – where you can hire bikes direct.
The doorstep one
You don't have to venture far to enjoy some incredible cycling opportunities right at your doorstep. Silverlake itself boasts an extensive network of quiet lanes and trails, offering miles of scenic routes. Within the Estate, you'll discover a network of bridleways that showcase the very best features of the area. For example, you can visit the Island, where an exhilarating zipwire spans across a picturesque lake. Another gem is Knighton Heath woodland, a fantastic destination for off-road cycling enthusiasts, thanks to its historic woodland pathways.
One delightful option for a leisurely ride starting from Silverlake is to journey through the enchanting woodland, passing through West Knighton, and eventually returning to the Estate via the bridal way that runs alongside Beaumont Lake. This particular route is perfect for guests renting bikes from the Activity Hub, as it requires off-road tyres. However, it's important to note that the trail can become quite muddy during the winter months. So, prepare accordingly and embrace the adventure!
The casual ones
With most of its 17-mile circular route on flat, safe cycleways, the Portland Trail is a great option for families. Starting at Overcombe Corner, the trail follows cycle paths around Lodmoor Country Park and nature reserve, into Weymouth town centre (perfect for a cake stop!) and along the Rodwell Trail to the Isle of Portland. Add in a stop at Chesil Beach - one of the best beaches on the Jurassic Coast – for a picnic before continuing to Portland. Portland Castle is a particular favourite.
Another more meandering cycle route is the Ashley Heath Railway Station to Moors Valley Country Park loop. A steady 10-miles, the route combines easy paved cycleways with a gentle forest track for a family-friendly amble. Travelling with little fans of the Gruffalo storybook? Save your picnic for Moors Valley Country Park and they can tuck into their sandwiches whilst sitting beside life-size sculptures of Gruffalo and friends.
Silverlake’s year-round bike rental means the whole family can explore Dorset by bike, without the hassle of loading up the car with all the bikes, racks and kit necessary.
The challenging ones
Dorset’s rugged, hilly terrain makes for some strenuous rides that seasoned cyclists will revel in. If you fancy incorporating a bit of a challenge into your Dorset holiday, saddle up and head for the Purbeck Trail. Following a circular route from Corfe Castle, the 57-miles combine enough stunning coastal views, unspoilt rural landscapes, charming villages and historic landmarks to make the hill climbs worthwhile. The Smedmore hill climb is particularly tough, so reward yourself with a refreshment stop at the Bankes Arms pub a little further along the route, before knuckling down for many undulating miles of the gravelly Purbeck Trail.
Another interesting ride is the Canford Magna Bridge to Poole Quay loop from Hampreston. You’ll need decent fitness levels to manoeuvre your bike up and down steps in some areas, and moveable bridges mean you’ll have to factor bridge opening times into your plans, but the mostly flat route is a great way to get acquainted with Poole and its Quay area.
For those that prefer to spend their time on dirt rather than tarmac, a great option is Puddletown Forest, widely regarded as one of the premier mountain biking destinations on the South Coast. It's conveniently located just a short distance from Silverlake, about a 20-minute ride away via the tranquil country lanes that pass through West Stafford.
Upon reaching Puddletown, you'll uncover a vast network of bridleways that crisscross the forest, providing an exceptional mountain biking experience. These trails offer a thrilling adventure, allowing you to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the surroundings. It's important to note that there are also hundreds of unofficial off-piste trails available in the area. It's essential to respect signage and seek local guidance before exploring these non-designated paths and rights of way. Mountain biking in Puddletown Forest is an exhilarating experience, combining outdoor adventure with stunning landscapes. Ride responsibly, follow local regulations, and enjoy exploring the remarkable biking opportunities in the region.
The expert ones
The Dorset Greatest Hits Tour is the perfect ride for those looking both to test their endurance and take in some of the most spectacular countryside the area has to offer. Stretching 73-miles it’s a long day in the saddle and should only be attempted by those with the fitness and equipment to match. The route takes in a selection of must-see spots in the local area, including the birthplace of local author Thomas Hardy, the prehistoric geology of Lulworth cove and the home of Lawrence of Arabia. When you arrive back at Silverlake you’ll be in awe by the stunning natural scenery and rich history of Dorset, along with having that satisfying tiredness in your legs!
If you’re looking for something even more challenging whilst on your Dorset holiday, the Corfe Castle loop from Wool will fit the brief. At almost 100-miles long and with a section endearingly known by the Kamoot community as the ‘Kingston Leg Burner’ it will test the endurance of the most expert cyclist. It’s a ride best followed by a spa day!