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UK ride: The Dorset Coast

Rolling hills, stunning sea views and one very naughty giant to admire

7 Mar 2017

Distance: 125km
Elevation: 2,051m
Time: 4-6 hours

Where is it?

This month we’re in Dorset, which is not only full of soft, rolling hills, but also boasts 88 miles of coastline.

With a relatively small population – half the inhabitants live in the Bournemouth-Poole conurbation – traffic is light, especially inland.

While the altitude is minuscule compared to the Lake District or Wales (the high point of this route is just over 200m) the profile of a ride in this area will rarely be flat.

Tell us more about the route...

Our starting point is the On The Rivet luxury cycling retreat in Beaminster, near Bridport. Setting off from here, you’ll head immediately up White Sheet Hill, a steep and unforgiving climb, which goes up to 19% in parts. making your all-important pre-ride warm-up even more necessary.

The ride then takes you east into Thomas Hardy’s ‘Wessex’, ducking in and out of secluded villages frozen in time as you roll up and down the gently undulating roads.

After about 24km, you’ll find yourself at the foot of the famous Cerne Abbas Giant which adorns the hillside just outside of the village from which it takes its name.

At 55m high, this depiction of a naked ancient warrior is the UK’s tallest chalk hill figure, and is famous for its 7m erect penis. This is what people did before TV was invented.

What about getting some sea views?

After skirting past the south of Dorchester you’ll resume a direct path south towards Weymouth, the seaside town that played host to the 2012 Olympic sailing events.

Riding out to the Portland peninsula, on the left you’ll see the shimmering sea, while on the right is the spectacular Chesil Beach.

As you continue the loop you’ll encounter the famous Portland Bill lighthouse, which has been warning ships away from the shallow reef lurking there since 1906, having replaced an earlier one.

Any coffee stops to keep us going?

For caffeine-needy cyclists, Cycleccino in Portland ( is perfect: part-cafe, part bike shop, you can refuel and repair your bike there if necessary before a descent along the hairpins back toward Chesil Beach. Pick up the road west that hugs the coastline toward Bridport, and soon you’ll arrive at Abbotsbury.

Coming out of the village, you’ll be hit with a climb that peaks at 17%, but after that it’s downhill all the way to Bridport before the return run to Beaminster.

How do I get there?

Travelling by car, Beaminster is about 18 miles northwest of Dorchester on the A35. From the northeast, use the A3066, which comes off the main A303 road.

If, however, you’re using public transport, trains run direct from London Waterloo to Crewkerne and take around two and half hours).

From there, it’s under seven miles to Beaminster by bike via the A356 and the A3066. Or a little longer if you fancy taking the prettier B3165.

The route

Click here to download this route

1 Start in Beaminster, where there’s plenty of parking. Head north out of the village on North Street, climbing almost immediately. Bear right and briefly join the A356 before turning left on Benville Lane.

2 Continue east to Cerne Abbas and then on to Piddletrenthide. Head south to Dorchester.

3 Cross the A35 due south to Weymouth. Follow the seafront in the direction of Portland, past Chesil Beach and climb up to the top of the headland, detouring if you wish to the Portland Bill lighthouse.

4 Retrace and follow the coast road via Abbotsbury and on to Bridport. Head north to Dottery and Salwayash.

5 After North Bowood, turn right through Stoke Abbott and return to Beaminster.

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