Dorset has amazing scenery to put touring cyclists in a holiday frame of mind. Its hilly terrain limits your options though if you after a reasonably easy going, flat cycling experience.
The Rodwell Trail is one of the few high-quality railway paths of Dorset, taking you from Weymouth onto Portland Bill, the impressive peninsula sticking southbound into the English Channel. The path also provides access to famous Chesil Beach. Note this pebble beach is not suitable for any cycling; even walking on and over the endless "sea of boulders" is extremely hard going! Inland, a journey by bike to Dorchester is well worth the effort. Dorset's "county capital" has plenty to offer for visitors.
Bournemouth is one of the very few places in Britain where you can cycle traffic-free alongside a sandy beach on a promenade with hard surface for miles. You'll have to choose your moments though, as the path can get very crowded with beach-holiday makers. In the busy summer months, cycling on this promenade is prohibited during day time. Be ready to cycle this 9 mile route (16 kms) in the early hours of the morning or in the evening; especially a perfect ride during sunset or dawn. A similar gravel beach path of about 1 mile can be found at Barton on Sea, leading towards Highcliffe Castle. There is no straight-forward traffic-calmed link between the two paths.
Following the Dorset coast to the west, across Poole Harbour, the Isle of Purbuck, with its forests and coastal views, is a great holiday destination. Cycle Experience in Norden and Wareham is the true expert of cycling on Purbeck and has something on offer for everyone. Visit their excellent website and get inspired!
In summary, most of Dorset's cycling appeal lies in the south coast. Please note that many inland cycle journeys will be hard-going. The Dorset hills can be ruthless, with many steep climbs and descents to take in. Having this said, there are plenty of country lanes which you can use to plan your own traffic-calmed routes. Bring plenty of food and drink; distances between places can be long!
If you are interested in traffic-calmed long-distance cycling on England's South Coast, please note that National Cycle Network Route 2 is far from completed. This route, supposed to connect Dover with Cornwall, has various missing sections. You'll end up cycling on busy main roads for considerable distances and also have to plan and research your way to make up for the missing gaps.
If you are after a continuous east-west cycle route across southern England, consider our London-Land's End Cycle Route Book, which also features a route from Dover to London, thus providing the Dover-Cornwall connection. It comes in a handy spiral-bound format and GPS-tracks are free when ordered via our own websites.