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.
North Dorset Cycleway Ordnance Survey Map - view and print off detailed OS map
North Dorset Cycleway Open Street Map - view and print off detailed map
North Dorset Cycleway OS Map - Mobile GPS OS Map with Location tracking
North Dorset Cycleway Open Street Map - Mobile GPS Map with Location tracking
Consider stopping off at the pretty village of Ibberton where you'll find the noteworthy Ibberton pub. The inn has an interesting history stretching all the way back to the 16th century. It has retained original features such as flagstone floors, beams and inglenook fireplace complete with bread oven. Outside there's two gardens with a trickling stream running through. It's a lovely spot to relax in on a fine summer day. You can find the pub on Church Lane with a postcode of DT11 0EN. It's also worth strolling round the village and visiting the interesting St. Eustace Church which dates back to the 14th century. Here you can also pick up the Ibberton Millennium Path which explores the area on a waymarked footpath.