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CYCLE West - Cross Channel Cycle Tourism

Dorset County Council is delivering the CYCLE West project to promote our area as a destination for cross channel cycle tourism using €460,000 of INTERREG European funding.

Three cycle touring itineraries offering over 1000km of traffic cycle routes and quiet roads connect Brittany and Normandy with South West England Dorset

The Petit Tour de Manche

The Petite Tour de Manche offers over 400km of scenic, way marked cycling from Weymouth - Dorchester - Poole - Cherbourg - Mont St Michel - Saint Malo - Jersey Condor and Brittany Ferries. In Dorset this follows National Cycle Network (NCN) Route 2 and Route 26. The route passes through beautiful and varied countryside and includes the historic D-Day landing beaches, Corfe Castle, two UNESCO World Heritage sites, the Jurassic Coast and St Michel and the magnificent Chesil Beach. It also offers the option to visit Jersey, the island where French and British cultures blend seamlessly. Touring cyclists may complete the route in 4 days as a challenge or take 7-10 days to leisurely explore our beautiful channel region and its varied attractions.

The Grand Tour de Manche

This is the longest, most varied and challenging of the three routes: a continuous 700km route of landscapes and seascapes either side of the English Channel. Highlights include the Bay of Morlaix, the Pink Granite Coast, the Bay of Mont St-Michel, the Jurassic Coast and Dartmoor National Park. A real adventure in every sense of the word! The grand opening of the Tour de Manche route is scheduled for summer 2013.

Velodyssey

The Velodyssey follows euro velo route 1, offering a 'there and back' itinerary, staying mostly inland to traverse some of the most stunning countryside of both Devon and Brittany. The route follows mainly old railway lines and canal side paths - with the opportunity to detour along the hugely popular Camel Trail into the heart of Cornwall. If you do feel adventurous, you can continue your journey for 1200km along the French Atlantic coast down to the Spanish border as this newly developed cycling route is signposted all the way to Hendaye. The sea is never very far away as you discover the best each region has to offer along France's longest way marked cycle trail. 

Infrastructure Improvements

CYCLE West has funded the following cycle infrastructure improvements in Dorset:

  • a continuous cycle route between Weymouth and Dorchester by completing NCN route 26 between the towns;
  • completed missing links in NCN route 26 and NCN Route 2 in Dorchester
  • provided cycle parking at key tourist attractions and transport interchanges in Purbeck and West Dorset.

CYCLE West will fund a cycle route connection between Weymouth ferry terminal and Westham Bridge in Weymouth town centre. Consideration is currently being given as to whether the route should follow Custom House Quay and Commercial Road or via the Esplanade and a possible cycle contraflow on Westham Road, pending the results of the reversible rail infill pilot, formal agreement with Network Rail who own the rails and a road safety audit.

Economic Benefits

Promoting cycle tourism, environmentally friendly travel and will open our area to a new tourism market and diversify our offer. A seminar held with local businesses in October 2012 highlighted the opportunities that the three CYCLE West touring itineraries will offer local business. Holidaying cyclists spend money and economic benefits of similar routes include:

  • tourists (out of region visitors) using four cycle routes in the North East generated £5.9 million in 2006, supporting 95 full-time equivalent jobs
  • tourists (out of region visitors) using The Celtic and Taff Trails in Wales generate £9.9 million per annum, supporting 183 job

Marketing our area as a venue for active/adventure holidays

Touring cyclists from are the main market for the three itineraries. A marketing budget of €1.2m is promoting the channel region as a destination for cycling and active holidays to cycling holidaymakers across the UK, France and Germany. This is a great opportunity for B&B's, hoteliers, attractions, cycle hire companies and bike shops, tour operators and baggage portage to expand their business into the growing market for sustainable, eco-friendly tourism.

Holidaymakers can plan their cycling holiday on these routes at  Tour de Manche (opens in a new window) and  Velodyssey (opens in a new window) where details of places to stay, where to eat and to see are listed.

A Guidebook for the Petit Tour de Manche has been published by Baytree Press, putting Dorset firmly on the cycle touring map. A You Tube video about the Tour de Manche (opens in a new window) has been produced so you can see the beautiful routes first hand.

View these beautiful routes first hand with the Tour de Manche video (opens in a new window).

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