Dorset is a wonderful county with a huge variety of scenery and terrain and despite my Northern roots it is where I have lived for the last 30 years or so. A ride around its boundary seemed a fitting way to spend a couple of days.
The route I devised, some 220 miles or 330 kilometres with about 4000m of ascent would be too challenging for a days ride so I split it into two. The first day went from East to West roughly following the South Coast from Christchurch back home to Burton Bradstock.
Steve accompanied me on this trip and it was great to have time to catch up on his recent cycling tours in Donegal and Brittany.
My other ‘companion’ was my brand new Thorn Audax bicycle which Thorn had built in a day instead of the expected 5 weeks.
This would be quite a big test ride for the new machine especially as Thorn suggests 20 miles is plenty for the first few outings. But as this ride was in the diary and I am off to San Francisco for the first part of October there was no way I was not going to ride on it.
We started at Hurn near Bournemouth Airport and head down the busy B3073 to Christchurch where we crossed the River Avon and rode out to Hengitsbury Head for the sake of completeness.
Then on a flat road with a tail wind (very unusual circumstances) we rode along the sea front with hazy views across to old Harry Rocks all the way to Poole.
The Chain Ferry at Sandbanks was just pulling out as we approached. The enforced break allowed us a coffee break and time to chat to a couple of local cyclists out for a day ride.
On to Swanage, up to Kingston and then the magnificent descent to Corfe. We thought the Lulworth Ranges would be closed so we went up and over Creech Hill and round the long way to West Lulworth. 2nd breakfast – spinach and ricotta pastie! Out to the A352 and down to Weymouth. We cycled along the cycle path from Overcombe to Weymouth and then picked up the Rodwell Trail from Radipole Lake to Ferrybridge. Portland Harbour was looking quite rough in the strengthening easterley breeze and the kite surfers were out having an exciting time.
There was a gusty cross wind on the Portland beach road so after the first close encounter with a lorry we crossed onto the cycle path which although narrow was safe.
The hill from Fotuneswell to Portland Heights is always a challenge but the transmission on my new bike was built for the job and I had no problems. The wide roads through Easton to Southwell were a delight (mainly downhill) with great views emerging of the Shambles Bank and the Portland tiderace. The wind became more intrusive as we headed down to Portland Bill and we took a few moments off the bike to enjoy this spectacular environment.
We had a headwind along the continuously rising road back to Portland Heights but enjoyed the descent back to the causeway and once again used the cycle path. Dorchester the County town next. To get there we went through Chickerell, Nottington and then up the long hill over Ridgeway and down the cyclepath. It was definitely time for some proper food before the 2 big hills that stood between us and the end of our ride. The cyclists we met at the Sandbanks Ferry had recommended Wetherspoons so we cycled into their back entrance and for £3.99 had a veggie burger with chips and a cup of tea. Perfect.
We cycled out through Poundbury and Martinstown then up over Hardys Monument and down the Bishops Road to Abbotsbury.. The evening light over St Catherine’s Chapel and out to sea was wonderful and we paused on the descent to enjoy it.
Without further ado we rode slowly up Abbotsbury Hill and back to Burton Bradstock along the B3157 where part 1 of Beating the Bounds of Dorset ended. 165 km – just over 100 miles with 2047m of ascent.