Cycling in the Purbecks

The Isle of Purbeck is a beautiful peninsula in the Dorset county, surrounded by the English channel on one side and the river Frome and Poole Harbour on the other. Here is where the Jurassic Coast starts, with its abrupt cliffs and rock formations. I am lucky to live right here, in the historical town of Poole.

Yesterday I took advantage of the good sunny weather and, after finishing helping moving to our new office, I decided to go for a bike ride around the area. And where better could I go than exploring the Purbecks? I’ve set my phone to record my ride and started the challenge. I only knew the route for about half of the journey, but I thought I would manage just fine by following the road signs.

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I left Poole through Upton and headed over on the bike route towards Wareham, the first town in my journey. The roads were empty, there was just a bit of traffic until I reached the crossroads with Sandy Lane, in Upton. From there, all the way to Lytchett Minster, a tiny village on the way, it was quiet. There was a bit of wind but nothing to powerful to stop me going with about 20km/hour. I was looking forward to pass the Holton Heath forest, as usually there are deer alongside the road, but this time there was none. Just a lonely horse looking at me with curiosity when I stopped to drink some water.

The bike path to Wareham is pretty well done, with just around half a mile going on the actual road, due to the lack of sidewalks. I was a bit scared, as this is a pretty busy road, quite narrow, with a speed limit of 60mph. If there is traffic from both sides, a cyclist can not be overtaken, which makes some drivers anxious and impatient. And as a result, they will either speed while overtaking, or come really close to you, almost pushing you into the bushes from the side of the road.

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It took about an hour until I reached Wareham, a small town on the river Frome. In summer, there are daily boat trips from Poole to Wareham, with plenty of time to explore the town and have lunch here. Wareham dresses in flowers each summer and has a lovely riverside promenade, where I stopped for a while to rest and have a boost of energy from a KIND snack.

For me it is very important to eat as healthy as possible and KIND bars are exactly what I am looking for in a snack: tasty, low in sugar and high in fibre. They are made out of whole nuts and fruits bound together in honey and they contain about 40% less sugar compared with similar snack bars. More, the KIND snack bars are gluten-free, making them the perfect option for people who suffer from celiac disease.

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In the UK, the KIND snacks come in two delicious ranges: Nuts & Spices (Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt, Caramel Almost and Sea Salt, Maple Glazed Pecan & Sea Salt, Madagascan Vanilla Almond) and Fruit & Nut (Peanut Butter and Dark Chocolate, Almond and Coconut, Cranberry Almond and Macadamia Nuts, Dark Chocolate & Cherry Cashew).

I chose to taste first the Almond and Coconut bar which pleasantly surprised me with its softness. The taste is very coconuty and combined with the almonds, reminded me of marzipan. How cool is that, to have a snack bar that tastes like marzipan? I found the flavours to delicate complement each other, with a nice sweet aroma and, if you are a fan of coconut, like me, you will love it.

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The second KIND bar I tried, before getting back on the road again, was the Dark Chocolate and Cherry Cashew one. Cherries are my favorite fruits so I was quite excited to try this bar. And I wasn’t disappointed! The cherries blend perfectly with the rich chocolate. Cashew are my favorite nuts and they are packed with antioxidants, minerals and vitamins. They are a very good source of energy, same as the dark chocolate, perfect to keep me going for another 5 miles, until Corfe Castle. Overall, I didn’t find this bar to be very sweet.

I left Wareham behind and, after about 200 meters on the main road, I took a left and turned towards the Arne Natural Reserve. This road is a bit longer but safer as not many cars pass by. I did however got the wrong turn towards the Corfe Castle and I had to go back. I didn’t get discouraged, consulted the Google Maps for a bit and soon enough I was on the right path again.

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The road passed through a forest before opening up through fields of purple flowers. This is when the terrain started to elevate and I had to put my muscles to work harder. It wasn’t that bad though, not at all compared with what was about to follow. I was enjoying the ride and I was happy that I chose to do it. It was just me and the nature, and the odd car passing by, from time to time. Not very often though. Soon, I managed to see Corfe Castle at the horizon and I knew it wasn’t long until I will reach it.

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Corfe Castle dates back in the 11th century and is one of the first fortifications to be built using stone, while the other castles in Europe were still made out of timber and earth. It stands above the village with the same name and, unfortunately, today we can only see the ruins of what this castle used to be. The road passes underneath the hill it is built on and surrounds it in a steep half loop. The Castle belongs to the National Trust and can be visited. I stopped at the pub near the entrance, to rest for a bit. The weather was lovely, not a cloud on the sky and, from the pub garden, the view over the castle was beautiful.

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I felt that I needed a bit more energy, without knowing what was waiting for me on the next leg of my journey, so I opened the Peanut Butter and Dark Chocolate KIND bar. Peanut butter is a great source of protein and magnesium, while dark chocolate is an excellent antioxidant.

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I left Corfe Castle following the road towards Studland. I knew there was an off-road shortcut somewhere around, very fun to do and all downhill but I could not remember the exact location. So I thought I should stay safe and just follow the road. At the beginning it was up and down, more up than down but still, there was time to rest in between climbs. But all of a sudden, the road started to curve, and after each corner all I could see was more elevation. There was nowhere to stop and rest. The road was narrow and curvy, if I stopped the drivers coming behind could not see me, so I had to push myself harder and harder. My knees were in pain and my muscles aching. “One more step, just one more”, I kept telling to myself, while the bike barely moved.

I continued to climb the hill thinking that it will never end. I had the power however not to get off the bike, it was a challenge that I had to succeed. And I did! The reward was an amazing panorama over the entire Isle of Purbecks, from where I could even see my home. It was all worth it and once on top, even if I could barely stand up due to the pain in my knees, I felt proud of myself.

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From here, the road down the hill was so much fun! I managed to reach a speed of 53km/h while letting the bike lead me to the ferry. Studland, a natural protected area, is connected to the other side of the land, Sandbanks, by a chain ferry. The price for a crossing, for passengers and bikes is only £1. The advantage of being on a bicycle is that you don’t have to wait in the queue of cars, you can simply bypass them and go to the front. The crossing only lasts for 5 minutes.

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Off the ferry and straight home: only 4 more miles to go and one hill to climb. I stopped to take a photo, as the sun was preparing to set, over the Poole Harbour. Did you know that Poole Harbour is the second biggest natural harbour in the world, after Sydney?

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In the end, here is the map of my ride. The total time was about 3 hours for 49.1 km (there are 4 hours on the map because it includes my stop overs at Wareham, Corfe Castle and… the supermarket, near my home 🙂 ). Difficulty, in my opinion, was 7/10

Disclaimer: Please note that I received the KIND snack bars for free to review them. However, all comments and opinions in this article are my own.

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