The Dorset 330 Off-Road Bike-packing Circuit around the Jurassic Coast – UK

We decided, at very short notice, to head off on an Autumn cycle tour to fit between various other commitments. We would normally cycle from home, but as we only had 6 days spare we took the car to Dorchester and using the Just Park app were able to drop it off in someone’s driveway at the start of our route. We are going to cycle a mixed route of rough off-road tracks joined with a few lanes around Dorset’s Jurassic Coast circling around inland and ending up back in Dorchester. When Bernie suggested a little jaunt for a few days in either Somerset or Dorset I thought it a great idea and didn’t look too hard at the proposed circuit on the map. It was only when I started looking for accommodation and lunch stops that I realised how hard and steep this route was going to be. Oh well, life normal then!

Map of the Dorset 330 whole route. For a more detailed downloadable map see the end of this blog.

Day 1 – Dorchester to Kingston – A drove jam and a lot of gates

We were quickly out of Dorchester on a series of pedestrianised cycle paths. Before long found ourselves on the Jubilee Bridleway which was wide and gravelly over rolling hills.
The morning was a mixture of small lanes, gravel tracks, fields, drove roads and single track.
The biggest disappointment was finding ourselves on top of White Horse Hill, so we couldn’t see it!
The Drove tracks are still in use and we had a drove jam for half an hour following the farm quad bike and a herd of unruly young cattle. I decided I didn’t want my bike to share our room that night as the wheels are still green. There are only so many cowpats you can dodge.
It was a lovely sunny day with a light breeze, perfect for all the hang gliders circling the cliffs over Ringstead Bay.
We dropped down from the South Dorset Ridgeway into Chaldon Herring for a delicious lunch at the Sailors Rest.
I think I ate too much lunch or the hills got steeper after lunch. We cycled up a long valley through fields of cows, then had to climb steeply out.
A bee enjoying late summer nectar from the ivy
Arriving at the Lulworth Military Ranges as expected our track and other roads were all closed due to military exercises so we had to go a long way around. We were just completing the third side of the square, and I was thinking how lucky we had been that our diversion was flat when I noticed a sign that said 20%. It was a very long hill, with great evening views over the cliffs from the top where we had found the Hill Pop Up Cafe.
One last big climb, this time on a very rough track that had us pushing, then we had an amazing long fast decent along the cliffs into Kingston where we are staying.
The views always make the climbs worthwhile.

A short video of the trails from the first day is here

Day 2 – Wonderful Studland and Old Harry Rocks – Kingston to Ash

An exhausting day of two halves. We were expecting heavy rain all morning but it had come over in the early hours and had gone by the time we set off in the direction of Studland.

We rolled through some woods and across some fields past a beautiful old mill and could see the ruins of Corfe Castle in the misty distance. Wonderful.
Close up Corfe is less than wonderful with the over manicured old cottages, all with their burglar alarms on the wall and an oversized Discovery Landrover parked outside and with every shop selling tourist tat.
We were soon heading up the first of two big steep climbs, up through fields full of large field mushrooms and Red Devon Cattle.
Once up on Allwood Down we had lovely misty views in all directions. You can see which way the wind normally blows. We were lucky there was no wind while we were up there.
Looking down over Swanage
Our second big climb up to Studland Point and Nature Reserve. Fantastic views across the sea and down to Swanage and Poole Harbour.
We cycled to the top of Old Harry Rocks with their white cliffs and I took lots of photos so Bernie could see the cliffs later as his vertigo had stopped him a long way before the edge.
Looking back at Old Harry Rocks from Middle Beach
The rest of the day was a mixture of gravel tracks and deep sand as we traversed heath and woodland.
And some rocky single track
We were now going through the most populated part of the route, around Poole and Wimborne Minster. Although there were a few sections on the road with fairly horrendous driving most of the way we were on the Castlemans Trailway.
Finally we got to our home for the night in an extremely bijou shepherd’s hut on the edge of a wood. Somehow it felt smaller than our tent.

For a short video of the trails on Day 2 see below:-

Day 3 – Getting very lost between Ash and Ansty

After a breakfast egg and bacon bap delivered to our Shepherds Hut by our host we set off early under blue skies. We were now in the Cranborne Chase and West Wiltshire AONB
A village well built 1880
We passed through some lovely old villages with thatched cottages and lovely gardens, such as in Wimborn St Giles.
Cyclamen flowering beside the road
Our route took us along lots of small gravel lanes and sandy tracks
narrow very bumpy and overgrown bridleways
and through rooty forests and woods. We made good time as it was fairly flat for most of the day.
Stopping for a picnic lunch in a field
Well, it was flat until we got to Shillingstone Hill which was a very long push
Luckily we kept most of the height gained as we cycled through the woods on a crisscross series of tracks. From there is was a steady, but manageable climb to Bulbarrow Hill, the highest point on our trip at 265 m.
Old boys playing trains at Shillingstone Station.
At the top of Bulbarrow hill we found the impressive earthworks of Rawlsbury Camp an Iron Age fort.
Everything was going swimmingly until we turned off the top of this hill across the grassy ramparts. We shot down an alarmingly steep field for a long way but arriving at the bottom we realised we had gone the wrong way! It was an exhausting push back up the field only to find there was no way through on our correct route. So we followed a nearby Bridleway sign and headed steeply down through two more fields. Still no way out, so pushing up yet again we eventually found a track. After splashing along a stream we found a lane about 2 km away from where we should have emerged. We were now exhausted and muddy but luckily near our AirB&B in Hilton.

For a short video of the tracks on day 3 click below:-

Day 4 – a perfect off-road day between Ansty and Beaminster

After a wonderful breakfast at our AirB&B in Hilton we set off again in sunshine but with a cold wind. It had rained again overnight but it was clear blue skies now.
Today was the perfect adventure day. There are so many bridleways in Dorset it is the perfect place for biking.
As soon as we left the village we were off road and climbing.
Then across fields for the next 30 km
with far reaching countryside views
and the occasional steep flint gravel and loose stone tracks.
Sometimes you just have to believe there is a track there!
Forward motion was generally slow today as it was so steep but we had a great morning and saw a surprising number of walkers, with the odd horse rider and cyclist.
Having stopped in the sun for a snack, slowly reducing the hundred weight of flap jack I am carrying, we found the Acorn Inn in Evershot at lunch time and had a really delicious roast beef lunch.
Feeling very full after lunch and with heavy legs it was back on steep rough tracks and some tracks we couldn’t see were tracks. I nearly had a bad moment when I didn’t duck enough and a low branch tried to remove my helmet. Luckily I was going uphill at the time.
A iron age earth work. We passed various tumulus mounds and ancient earthworks of some type. At the top of one hill we also found about 50 metal detectorists in a field having a happy time doing whatever it is they do.
Milking time at Langdon Farm near Beaminster
A lot of gates today
Evening views across to the sea near Beaminster
Waiting to get into our AirB&B. Although this was a shorter day in kilometres we did more climbing, with the days total of 1140 m. We were very tired when we arrived at our AirB&B in Beaminster only to find our host had forgotten to email us the key code. Luckily she rang us back quickly and we were soon in drinking cups of tea and eating cake. Lovely comfortable village house and a quick walk down the road to the local hotel for dinner. Overall a perfect day!

For a short video of the trails on day 4 see below:-

Day 5 – A circuit from Beaminster via Charmouth and Chideock

The day started as it would continue, with a hard push up a never ending hill. We had only just left Beaminster and were still in the lane but just couldn’t keep peddaling. Once we made the top of the hill the wind hit us full force as we set off across the fields.
A typical rocky track today
Before long we dropped into some beautiful old beech woodland
and the tracks started to get technical.
I was fine with all the tree roots heading up hill but the track narrowed as it headed steeply down and the roots got higher and the rocks got larger. But as it got steeper I was soon walking down as I know my limits.
We were on lanes quite a bit during the morning and arrived in Charmouth around 12, so we had an early lunch before tackling the almost vertical Golden Cap Hill. This involved a lot more pushing and seemed to go on forever. Eventually we arrived at the National Trust land with wonderful views of the sea and the flat topped Golden Cap hill itself. Apparently from the sea the hill has a pointed top with golden rocks at the top, hence the name. This is a view from the top.
The flat topped hill here is Golden Cap
We headed over a field and along a rocky track before the climb towards Golden Cap started up the grassy hill. Another mammoth push. If we had been paying more attention we would have noticed our route went a slightly different way. As it was we arrived near the top at a gate just meant for walkers. We did manage to get the bikes through on their back wheels but it was hard. Luckily we had been able to leave the luggage in the AirB&B so the bikes were lighter than normal.
From there we had a lovely ride around Langdon Hill through the fields.
The rest of the day was spent on rough rocky lanes going steeply up and down
and getting stung by nettles and scratched by brambles.
We ended up in a beautiful sunken lane with high green sides
and massive tree roots protruding above our heads
Amazingly we didn’t get wet despite the strong wind, at least not from the sky, but it had rained heavily overnight so we got fairly muddy today. Another fun day!

For a short video of day 5 trails see below:-

Day 6 – Lumps, bumps, mounds and tumuli between Beaminster and Dorchester

We have been so lucky on this trip, yet again it rained overnight but as we set off it was sun and cloud with a cold breeze blowing. Not the strong cold wind we had had yesterday. We said goodbye to our lovely hostess for the last two nights who had offered us a home from home while we were in Beaminster.

We had to make our own way back onto our route so turned off through a wood along Furze Lane which was very narrow and steep and fairly overgrown. This met up with our route after a couple of kilometres.
We were in the Dorset AONB all day and the scenery was stunning.
After our usual steep start we undulated along a pretty track beside the Mangerton River.
Just before dropping down a muddy track to a farm near Mapperton we went along what looked like major fortifications. The track had been cut down through these and we could see parts of old walls in the banks on either side. We met the farmer at the bottom and when asked he just said, Oh yes, from long ago. I couldn’t see any mention of it on the map.
Had to do a lot of ducking and diving
In all the damp weather there were a lot of fungi about
There were some very pretty hamlets on this section. This lovely church is in Littlebredy
across the South Dorset AONB
We saw a lot of mounds, bumps, tumuli and barrows of all shapes and sizes, as we progressed along past Toller Porcorum and the aptly named Long Barrow Hill on the South Dorset Ridgeway
Heading up and along the South Dorset Ridgeway on the Downs with great views of the sea and down over Weymouth.
The Thomas Hardy monument. Our final earthworks view was of the magnificent Maiden Castle just before we got back into Dorchester. All in all a great ride.

For a short video of day 6 trails see below:-

The overall distance we cycled, which includes a few errors, was 361 km (224 miles) and we climbed 5566 m (18,261 feet). No wonder my legs were tired! And we enjoyed every minute of it, I would recommend it as a fun short off-road tour.

The map of this route can be seen by clicking on the link below:

To see our previous trip bikepacking An Turas Mor in the Scottish Highlands see below:-

To see our next bike-packing trip around the Rebellion Way in Norfolk see below:-