North Dorset Cycleway
This terrific signed circular route takes you on a tour of some of the prettiest villages and finest countryside in this beautiful county. You will pass through the Dorset Downs and Cranborne Chase Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the delightful Blackmore Vale.
The ride starts at Gillingham railway and heads towards the lovely town of Sturminster Newton. Situated on the River Stour the town boasts an ancient working watermill which is now a museum.
From Sturminster Newton you continue to Ibberton and the fabulous Ibberton Hill with spectacular views of Dorset's AONB. The ride then descends to Milton Abbas where you will find pretty thatched cottages and the impressive Milton Abbas Abbey, which is now a school. The village is often shown on picture postcards of Dorset with the 36 quaint white-washed and thatched cottages each fronted by a lawn.
The next stage takes you to the market town of Blandford Forum where you cross the River Stour. Pleasant riverside sections along the Stour and the River Tarrant follow before passing through Moor Crichel,Gussage All Saints and Farnham. Here you begin a series of wooded sections through Farnham Wood and Fontmell Wood on your way to Fontmell Magna.
The next stop is the interesting town of Shaftesbury. One of the oldest and highest towns in Britain it is home to Gold Hill, a steep cobbled street featured famously on the Hovis advert. The ruined abbey, founded in 888, and its accompanying museum is also worth seeing if you have time.
The final section then leads you back to Gillingham via Motcombe.
This route mostly takes place on country lanes and contains a few steep climbs. It is probably best to tackle it in stages unless you are an experienced cyclist.