I went on a weekend cycling trip to Bournemouth with some friends recently. We spent two days in the area and cycled a couple of circular routes in Dorset, including the Isle of Purbeck.
- We’re a group of 50-something guys.
- We like to cover a few miles on our trips but we aren’t club cyclists.
- We have hybrid/town/commuting bikes (like this one) not road bikes. This, and our ages, means that we’re not the fastest (but we get there in the end).
Where We Stayed
We stayed at The Wessex Hotel (on Trip Advisor), which is a large hotel on the western side of Bournemouth. It has a big car park and is easy to find from the main A338. The hotel was welcoming and the staff helpful with storing our bikes in rooms inside the hotel. The buffet breakfast, especially the choice of cereals, fruit, yoghurt and pastries, was great. Just what you need before a long day’s cycling in the Dorset countryside!
The hotel was comfortable with large bedrooms although the decor was slightly dated. Nothing that would stop me staying there again though.
The Cycling Routes
Isle of Purbeck and Blandford Forum
Here’s a map of the first day’s cycling:
- This is the Dorset route from Great British Bike Rides: 40 Classic Routes for Road Cyclists.
The route goes west from Bournemouth and into Sandbanks. We took the Sandbanks chain ferry across Poole Harbour. The ferry runs every 20 minutes and costs £1 for cyclists.
After the crossing, we cycled picturesque countryside on the Isle of Purbeck, past Corfe Castle, and through the Purbeck Hills before heading north to Blandford Forum. Just before BF, we stopped for lunch (at the Hambro Arms pub) in the delightful village of Milton Abbas. I’ve been through that area before on my Blandford Forum cycling trip but Milton Abbas was just as lovely as I remembered it. There’s a tough little climb out of the village that I had almost forgotten though!
The only drawback to this route was the busy road into Poole near the end of the trip. There are cycle paths through Poole but be prepared to stop and check signage regularly.
We originally planned to finish the day by cycling back to the hotel via the promenade into Bournemouth but this isn’t permitted between 10 am and 6 pm during summer months. Check timings before you do this! We were stopped by a ‘promenade ranger’.
No problem. The promenade would have been nicer but we took a busier road back to the hotel.
Overall, for the first day.
- 89.90 miles
- 3,911 ft elevation gain
- 11.8 mph average speed
North of Bournemouth and east of the New Forest
Here’s a map of the route:
On day 2, we cycled a shorter and flatter route (thanks for devising the route, Brian), along the promenade (a gentle start to the day) to Christchurch, heading north, and skirting Ringwood and the eastern edge of the New Forest. After that, the route went west as far as Witchampton before we turned south back to Bournemouth.
The route is mostly country lanes but we also cycled an off-road cycleway after a lunch stop (a cafe in the town square) in Wimborne Minster. Some of the group stopped at a pub in Gussage All Saints (great name!) for their lunch.
The second day was just what we needed to ‘recover’ after the much hillier first day. We all arrived back at the hotel in late afternoon, ready for the evening’s traditional end-of-trip curry!
- 60.37 miles
- 1,603 ft elevation gain
- 11.6 mph average speed
Great trip. Great routes. Lovely and varied countryside, especially the first day. Some tough climbs through the Purbeck Hills (oh, really?!) and the first half of that day. Much less ‘elevation’ on our second day’s route though.
Yes, I’d love to go back to the area again.
- There are some great routes, including the Dorset ride from the first day of our trip, in Great British Bike Rides: 40 Classic Routes for Road Cyclists.