This ride along the Jurassic Coast combines cycling and discovering local history. It’s a tough but rewarding route through some of Dorset’s most dramatic scenery and fascinating sites. If you don’t have the time (or energy) for the full 47 miles, you can choose smaller sections, such as the round trip from Corfe Castle
Your starting point is Wareham train station. Head southwards out of town and over the bridge towards Stoborough, riding through tranquil water meadows. In Stoborough, follow the signposts to Corfe Castle, via Norden and along the A351. Take care on this busy road, which is flanked by farmland and a nature reserve. Stop to explore the castle’s ramparts, ‘murder holes’ and secret nooks and eat at the National Trust’s café, with its flower-filled garden and view of the castle, or one of the local pubs.
Distance: 47 miles (or choose smaller sections)
Duration: a weekend for the entire route, which includes very steep hills; 1 day for the super-fit
Return briefly to the A351 towards Studland before taking the first left into Sandy Hill Lane, passing Corfe Castle railway station, where steam trains chuff their way from Norden to Swanage. Follow this winding lane through farmland until Knitson Farm, where you turn right, onto Washpond Lane, on the outskirts of Swanage. Follow signs to Langton Matravers where, behind St George’s Parish Church, with its tower dating from 1320, there is a small museum telling the story of Purbeck stone and local history.
Langton Matravers Museum: www.langtonia.org.uk
From here head on to Kingston bearing right and down a steep hill to Corfe Castle. At Corfe you can either finish your mini-round trip, or turn left after castle mound towards Church Knowle and Creech. This is lovely cycling country – to the south lie Worbarrow Bay and Kimmeridge, where Purbeck Marine Wildlife Reserve has excellent information on fossils and the area’s geology.
After a steep climb you come into Lulworth Cove (with views of its 17th-century mock castle on your right), a pretty village from where you can walk the steep footpath to the natural wonder of Durdle Door, and its wide sweep of shingle beach.
Your route continues on to West Lulworth through beautiful countryside. At Lulworth head towards Chaldon Herring and then right towards Dorchester. Continue to Moreton, with tea rooms housed in the old village school and the delightful and light-filled St Nicholas’ Church, with spectacular engraved clear glass windows (rather than stained). This is where TE Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) is buried, and his house lies three-and-a-half miles to the east at Clouds Hill – a fascinating and deeply personal home in secluded woods, which is owned by the National Trust.
The route continues to Briantspuddle in the Piddle Valley, a lush countryside of grazing pastures and riverside views. A side trip two-and-a-half miles to the west is Tolpuddle, with the unique Tolpuddle Martyrs Museum, which reveals the impact of enclosure in the 18th century and the roots of the trade union movement. Returning to Briantspuddle, follow signs for Throop and then Bere Regis. You return to Wareham via Turnerspuddle and Bere Heath.
Words: Jo Leevers