This challenging but rewarding ride forms the western end of National Route 2, spanning some of the most scenic regions of the South Coast. It takes in the East Devon and Dorset Areas of Natural Beauty as well as the New Forest National Park, and those with an interest in history and geology will be keen to know the area from Exmouth to Studland Bay forms the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site.
Starting off in the pretty seaside town of Dawlish, you’ll pass round the Exe Estuary, an area known for its rich birdlife. There are long climbs after Exmouth, but the picturesque coastal villages you’ll pass through will soften the challenge, and the gradients get gentler toward Axminster. After that there are views of Lyme Bay, and Lyme Regis, “The Pearl of Dorset”, is a recommended route detour. Hitting the chalky grasslands of the Dorset Downs poses further climbs, but there’s a long downhill to enjoy from before Dorchester through to Moreton, passing the imposing mass of Maiden Castle as you go.
Over the heaths of the Isle of Purbeck peninsula, you then catch a ferry from Studland to Sandbanks (missing out a long, busy diversion around Poole Harbour) and ride through a long stretch of Bournemouth seafront. Then it’s a pleasant ride from Christchurch through the New Forest to Brockenhurst, the end of the journey.
We have taken all responsible steps to ensure that these routes are safe and achievable by people with a reasonable level of fitness. However, all outdoor activities involve a degree of risk. To the extent permitted by law, Sustrans accepts no responsibility for any accidents or injury resulting from following these routes. Walking and cycling routes change over time. Weather conditions may also affect path surfaces. Please use your own judgement when using the routes based upon the weather and the ability, experience and confidence levels of those in your group.