Cycling in Wessex

Opportunities for cycling in the beautiful south west counties of England is endless. From the very serious indeed to the rider who just wants a day out or a weekend break. Incredible variations of distance, of stunning scenery and levels of difficulty create a wealth of rides that can only delight.

Pleasures of the open road cyclist

Pleasures of the open road
Photograph L Temple

An inexpensive riding holiday in the Wessex region could easily be organised, the only problem would be what route to take, there are so many!

Healthy too.

Go alone or as a group – family, friends or workmates.

Join a club, there are many – it does not matter whether you are a serious or professional or an occasional friend of this form of transport – there is one for you. A great way to spend time with like minded folk doing something you all enjoy.

Pack the bike on the car or go by public transport. Larger train companies take bikes, but the smaller private ones may not. National Express coaches will take bikes if they can be folded and are packed properly.

Many cycling routes are also walking and horse riding trails.

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Recreational Cycling

Wessex is a wonderful region for recreational cycling. Each of the counties, Devon, Dorset, Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, Somerset and Wiltshire all have delightful cycle paths for all abilities no matter what age or ability. Try the longer ones in bite size bits as days out. Or even a short holiday.

One suggested break is Dorchester to Lyme Regis as a short break. Takes in some wonderful landscapes and interesting places, little hideaways and different road challenges. Not a good one with children as some of the route is on a main road.

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The coordinator of a National Cycle Network - NCN - is Sustrans and they have numbered the routes. Some of these are very long indeed, but there is no need to ride from one end to the other – unless you want to of course. Safe riding avoiding heavy traffic, many of the routes are off road.

Sustrans state that there is a route within two kilometres of most people so they are easy to access. They have produced a PDF document as a map showing all the network in England, Scotland and Wales. Download it from Sustrans and see the amazing total. Have fun planning a route.

Become a Volunteer and get involved!

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There are some B&B's and guesthouses that will take care of your luggage from their accommodation to your next while you go on your merry way. Check with your accommodation provider beforehand. However you may be nice and organised, travel light and back pack.

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Cycle Racing

Was at one time more popular on the Continent  but now the UK is catching up. Road races are from the one day through time trials to the Tours, the most famous of which is of course the Tour de France. Some are single entry others are team events.

Many cycle competitions in Wessex can be found in our Events pages.

Tour of Britain, Cheddar Gorge

Tour of Britain, Cheddar Gorge
Photograph © Nigel Mykura

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Mountain Biking

Mountain biking is an increasingly popular sport and some areas of Wessex are viable. Isle of Purbeck perhaps or Dartmoor.  Isle of Wight is worth a try.

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Quad Biking

Quad biking is a popular if somewhat dangerous sport.

They were invented in 1893  by Royal Enfield not as a sport vehicle but as a road vehicle. Needless to say if they are driven on the road they need all the usual paperwork for a road vehicle!

Also known as an all terrain vehicle (ATV) they can be six, four or three wheelers.  there is certainly quite a variety including those for work on farms and other such environments.

Such is the popularity that there are many places to go and enjoy some time on a quad bike all over the country and there are plenty in Wessex.

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Cyclo Cross

Needs strength and endurance!!! All the attributes of a cyclist and a runner with weightlifting included! A varied obstacle course where mud is normal. An autumn and winter sport some taxing weather can be encountered.

A bit of further information

Cyclo Cross a Beginner's guide

Wessex Cyclo Cross is a local organisation catering for folk from 7 to 70.

South West Cyclo Cross League

British Cycling has a Cyclo Cross section.

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Bike Hire

Keep an eye out for places like these that hire bikes, there are many more:


Devon Cycle Hire 

Biketrail Cycle Hire & Shop


Purbeck Cycle Hire


Meon Springs

Forest Leisure Cycling

North Hampshire Bikes


Wight Cycle Hire

Isle Cycle

Tav Cycles


Cheddar Cycle Store


Towpath Trail

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Cyclist by the Kennet and Avon Canal

Cyclist by the Kennet and Avon Canal
Photograph © Simon Mortimer

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Some Cycling Organisations

Audax UK is considered to be the foremost long distance association in the country and they state they are the biggest in the world. In their words they “oversee the running of long distance cycling events, and, using a system of time checkpoints, validates and records every successful ride” This one is for the serious long distance rider to enjoy as their shortest is 125 miles.

British Cycling is the national governing body for bike racing in Great Britain and administers most competitive riding within Great Britain, The Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. It selects the national competitors to represent Britain both in this country and abroad as well as representing Britain at the world organisation.

Cycling UK. An organisation with roots in the early days and today continuing to promote the interests of all sections of the activity at both country and district levels. Entirely a not for profit organisation they rely on the subscripton of members. Their results over the years at country level have been excellent. At a district level local groups organise rides for most Sundays and longer ones during the summer. Cafe's are important stops for more leisurely ride. Pleasant idea. Something for everyone.

CTC Wessex. Cycling for leisure and pleasure. Their area covers all of Dorset, South Wiltshire, Somerset and The New Forest. An organsation dedicated to the non competitive fan who wants a companionable ride. They are a Member Group of the Cycling Touring Club.

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Other pages that could well be of interest

Cycling in Southwest England

Cycling in Devon

Cycling in Hampshire

Cycling in the New Forest

Cycle Route Dorchester to Lyme Regis as a short holiday

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Return from Cycling to Home

Or if you want to browse some more, say the county pages or Events there are navigation buttons above on the left. Enjoy.

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Cyclists on the Tarka Trail

Cyclists on the Tarka Trail in Devon
Photograph © Lewis Clarke

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Useful Information

Things change. Always check out the external links for the latest information.

These are just helpful suggestions only.

There is only one affiliate link, SBI.

Travel Wessex is a Guide.

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Self Catering Accommodation is useful where you can take your bike. It would be worth asking the owner if this is possible before you book.

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This is a developing map. Some areas have better coverage.

To find the nearest Electric Vehicle Charging Point please click here.

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Public Transport

Travel to your starting point by coach

National Express will take bikes provided they are properly packed. This is where the folding bike comes in handy, get one with its own case!!!

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National Rail Journey Planner.

For train journeys all over the United Kingdom connecting the places you want to go efficiently and quickly.

If you are planning to take your bike, check out the guide.

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Cycling Round the bend and up the hill

Round the bend and up the hill

Cycling Bembridge IOW

Bembridge Isle of Wight

Cycling Antique delivery bike


Cycling Nice spot

Nice Spot!!

Cycling Lydford Castle with bike

Lydford Castle

Cycling Rough ride

Rough Ride!!

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