Tour de Manche UK – Plymouth – Poole

6 Scenic Stages of Ever Changing Natural Landscapes
7 Nights Quality Bed & Breakfast Accommodation
This Itinerary is for self-book and self-guided holidays only
Route Maps & GPS Files Available for Purchase

The UK section of the Tour de Manche starts in Plymouth, Britain’s Ocean City, and ends 175 miles / 282km later in the vibrant town of Poole with the 2nd largest natural harbour in the world. The ever changing natural landscapes include stunning views over Plymouth Sound, Dartmoor, Devon Coast and the Jurassic Coast – a World Heritage site of special interest.

Smeatons Lighthouse Plymouth Hoe - Tour de Manche UK

Smeatons Lighthouse

Departure Point – Plymouth
Plymouth is Britain’s Ocean City, a lively and authentic waterfront community with a distinctly European feel created by the many marinas, restaurants, alfresco pavement cafés and waterfront bars, historic buildings and the strong modernist architecture that lines Armada Way, the city’s central boulevard.
Highlights
The Mayflower Visitor Centre
National Marine Aquarium
Plymouth Gin Distillery Tours

Gem Bridge - Tour de Manche UK

Gem Bridge

Day 1   Plymouth – Okehampton
41.5 miles / 67 kms
The route starts along Plymouth Hoe and through the Barbican to Plymbridge Woods.  The wonderful off-road ‘Drake’s Trail’ passes over viaducts taking you to the spectacular 200m long, 24m high Gem Bridge. From the wooded Walkham Valley, a former railway path leads through the 350m Grenofen Tunnel to the historic granite town of Tavistock. The route is virtually traffic-free from outskirts of Plymouth to Tavistock and is very well signposted. Leaving Tavistock the ride passes by the 12th Century Brentor  Church, then Lydford a pretty and secluded village dominated by a Norman castle and  a 1.5 mile gorge with paid access to the 90ft White Lady Waterfall and Devil’s Cauldron whirlpools. After Lydford join the ‘Granite Way’ a mainly off road traffic free route passing over the impressive Lake and Meldon Viaducts with stunning views of Dartmoor.

Exeter Quay - Tour de Manche UK

Exeter Quay

Day 2   Okehampton – Exeter
21 miles / 36 kms
Starting to leave Dartmoor behind now as the route winds through undulating Devon countryside where rolling hills and green fields make for pleasant cycling, offering pleasing countryside views and the occasional stop in quiet villages. The route largely follows the old A30 road which is now bypassed by a dual carriageway before a steep descent from the plateau leads into the historic Roman city of Exeter with its quayside, cafes and restaurants that cater for all tastes.

Sidmouth Beach - Tour de Manche UK

Sidmouth Beach

Day 3   Exeter – Sidmouth
21 miles / 36 kms
Leaving Exeter Quay the route hugs the canal before heading into open country via the newly constructed Exe Estuary Trail and is mainly off-road and wonderfully level. Famed for its shipbuilding Topsham is well worth a visit for its Dutch-gabled houses and delightful quayside inns. Skirting on past Lympstone, home of the Royal Marines Commando Training Centre, the ride runs above  Exmouth and heads east along the Jurassic Coast to the picture postcard seaside town of Budleigh Salterton. Leaving the flat estuary behind leads to Pinn Hill a tough climb with rewarding views before an exhilarating decent onto Sidmouth seafront.

Beer Beach - Tour de Manche UK

Beer Beach

Day 4   Sidmouth – Bridport
33.5 miles / 54 kms
A challenging climb up Salcombe Hill is rewarded with glimpses of the coast and one of the most unusual visitor attractions of the whole Tour, the Donkey Sanctuary. On through some of Devon’s prettiest villages, Branscombe and Beer which makes a sensible refreshment stop, nestling in a sheltered bay flanked by towering white cliffs and stunning sea views. From the historic seaside town of Seaton the ride is occasionally partnered by the electric tram which glides up the Axe Valley beside the River Axe and on to Axminster. This route also explores the pretty Marshwood Vale, home to hill forts, stone circles and attractive hamlets. Bridport with its lively market and history of rope-making makes for a pleasant stopover.

Dorchester Attractions - Tour de Manche UK

Dorchester Attractions

Day 5   Bridport – Dorchester
22.5 miles / 36 kms
Riding along quiet lanes, the going is occasionally hilly with a steady climb to Hardy’s Monument and unrivalled views across four counties. Few counties capture the quintessential feeling of “Englishness” as totally as Dorset – and the next part of the route from Bridport to Dorchester following the Bride Valley goes through some of its most peaceful and scenic parts. Dorchester is the historic county town of Dorset and has much to offer, boasting a wide range of family attractions, independent retailers and delicious eateries. This thriving market town has famous connections with Thomas Hardy, the Tolpuddle Martyrs and Roman Britain and makes for a fantastic stay.

Corfe Castle - Tour de Manche UK

Corfe Castle

Day 6   Dorchester – Poole
35.5 miles / 57 kms
Riding along quiet county lanes through typical Dorset villages, past the famous Dorset author Thomas Hardy’s former house Max Gate. The rolling countryside is dotted with woods, pasture and heath, 3km north off route is Hardy’s Cottage the author’s birthplace. Moreton Village is where Lawrence of Arabia is buried in the village graveyard and close by is a footbridge crossing point of the River Frome where Kingfishers can often be spotted. Crossing Stoborough Heath, Corfe Castle’s crumbling iconic profile can be glimpsed between gaps in hedgerows as the route picks up the off road Rempstone Ride. A visit to Corfe Castle with its imposing hilltop fortification originally commissioned by William the Conqueror, is highly recommended. Views to Poole Harbour start to open up as you approach the chain ferry at the Studland to Sandbanks.

Aerial View of Poole - Tour de Manche UK

Aerial View of Poole

Arrival Location Poole
Poole has much to offer and boasts a vast selection of dining and drinking venues, a fantastic shopping experience together with a multitude of events. Poole is rich in history and character and has a unique visitor experience with the town centre stretching from the water’s edge at Poole Quay up to the Dolphin Shopping Centre. From humble beginnings the town centre grew up from the quay as it became one of the South Coasts most important ports with stunning Georgian Mansions, medieval, and Art Deco style buildings.
Highlights
Brownsea Island

175 Miles / 282km Ever Changing Natural Landscapes

Plymouth to Tavistock follows the Drake’s Trail passing over viaducts and through the heavily wooded Walkham Valley to the 350m Grenofen Tunnel and the dizzying 200m long 24m high Gem Bridge. The ‘Granite Way’ leads mainly off road to to Okehampton then leaving Dartmoor behind the route winds through undulating Devon countryside before a pleasant decent into the Cathedral City of Exeter.

A highlight of the tour is the ride to the Georgian seaside town of Sidmouth along the Exe Estuary Trail looking out for wildfowl and waders that gather there. A very pleasant ride along the Axe Valley has a couple of tough climbs that are rewarded with visits to Branscombe and Beer before arriving in the market town of Axminster.

Few counties capture the quintessential feeling of “Englishness” as totally as Dorset with quiet country lanes all the way to Poole, taking in the county town Dorchester, and the Saxon walled town of Wareham. Just off route is Corfe Village a jewel in the crown well worth a visit before crossing Stoborough Heath and taking the Sandbanks Chain Ferry to the finish point of Poole.

For more information on the full route www.tourdemanche.com
Visit Devon Website www.visitdevon.co.uk
Visit Dorset Website www.visit-dorset.com

Highlights along the Tour de Manche

Lydford Gorge & Waterfall
A challenging but magical 3 mile circular walk through the deepest gorge in the South West. Follow the river as it tumbles, thunders and gently meanders through the Lyd Valley, passing the 30 metre high White Lady Waterfall and the Devils Cauldron. Discounts for cyclists
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/lydford-gorge

The Donkey Sanctuary
Meet the donkeys as they wander at will and who adore the fuss and attention they receive from visitors. Donkeys of all ages are resident at Slade Farm
www.thedonkeysanctuary.org.uk

Beer Quarry Caves & Beer Village
Guided tours of man-made underground caverns where excavated stone was used extensively in various historic English cathedrals and castles. Stunning seaside village with fantastic views over the English Chanel from its elevated position.
www.beerquarrycaves.co.uk

Thomas Hardy’s Cottage
Few authors have such strong associations with the natural and cultural heritage of their local area as Thomas Hardy. This cottage, where Hardy was born in 1840, was built of cob and thatch by his grandfather and has been little altered since the family left.
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/hardys-cottage/

Corfe Castle
Enjoy one of Britain’s most iconic and evocative survivors of the English Civil War, with fallen walls and secret places, there are tales of treachery and treason around every corner. Breathtaking views across Purbeck Hills and Downs.
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/corfe-castle

View the video of the full Tour de Manche route: Roscoff > St Malo > Cherbourg > Poole > Exeter > Plymouth

Tour de Manche Video

7 Nights Bed & Breakfast Accommodation in our Specially Chosen Cycle Friendly Hotels and Guest Houses:

The Caraneal Guest House, Plymouth
A long established family-run guesthouse where you are assured of a warm welcome from owners Max and Veronica. Ideally situated just off the seafront and opposite West Hoe Park, the Caraneal Guest House is within easy walking distance of the city of Plymouth and close proximity to Brittany Ferries Terminal.
Caraneal Plymouth
White Hart Hotel, Okehampton
Set in the centre of the market town of Okehampton in the foothills of Dartmoor and is a superior example of a 17th century coaching inn, offering fine cuisine and excellent accommodation. The Inn was given official license as Okehampton’s premier inn when the town’s charter was granted back in 1623 and has held that license continuously since that date. The White Hart once provided many horse drawn vehicles for local transport such as wagonettes, gigs, jingles, fly and the Landau and on market day there could be as many as 100 horses stabled at the hotel.
White hart, Okehampton
St Olaves Hotel, Exeter
A former Georgian town house originally built over 200 years ago for one of the prominent local merchants.  The St Olaves Hotel of today is a small, intimate, character hotel situated in the heart of the historic City of Exeter.  St Olaves is located in its own walled garden in the oldest part of the city, yet only 400 yards from Exeter Cathedral, one of the great Cathedrals of England.  All the rooms have modern bathroom suites with power showers, tea and coffee making facilities with homemade biscuits and chocolates.
St Olaves Exeter
Cheriton Guest House, Sidmouth
A delightful Victorian house just a few minutes’ walk from the regency town centre and seafront from Sidmouth. The rear of the property overlooks the popular National Trust Byes Riverside Park and the hills beyond. The Cheriton’s lush, beautifully presented garden leads you down to the River Sid. A bridge, very close by, provides pedestrian access to the park and a very pleasant alternative walk through the park into the town or to the seafront. Food is freshly prepared using locally sourced good quality ingredients.
Cheriton Hotel Sidmouth
The Tiger Inn, Bridport
Centrally located in the town centre offering comfortable accommodation, food and drink in a grade two listed building. Recently refurbished the boutique rooms are bright and modern with beautiful views over the town and surrounding countryside. The fresh wholesome breakfast will certainly set you up for the day’s riding ahead.
Tiger Inn Bridport
Aquila Heights Guest House, Dorchester
Located in a Georgian style detached house and directly on the Tour de Manche Route. Set in a quite location, yet only a few minutes’ walk from the County town of Dorchester with its range of bistros, bars and independent shops and attractions. The rooms are light spacious and comfortable with excellent views of the surrounding countryside. Breakfast is always freshly prepared and cooked to order using fresh local Dorset foods wherever possible.
Aquila Heights 150 x 150
The Mariners Guest House, Poole
Conveniently located, not only for Poole town centre but the ferry terminal, rail and coach stations to make your follow on journey easy.  Owner Yvonne has lovingly restored the house to a high standard of design and finish. The garden practically backs on to the idyllic and stunning Poole Park, well worth a visit if time permits.   Whether it’s full English, something a little lighter or even pancakes, enjoy your breakfast in the fresh and bright breakfast room.  An earlier breakfast may be accommodated for early follow on transport times.
Mariners Guest House Poole


Tour de Manche UK Route Overview

Tour de Manche UK Cycle Route

 

Smeatons Lighthouse Plymouth Hoe - Tour de Manche UK

Smeatons Lighthouse

Plymouth – Poole Overview

175 Miles / 282 Kilometres

30% Off Road Traffic Free / 70% Quiet Country Lanes

Difficulty: Easy > Intermediate > Expert

Whilst the route has a number of hills to climb they should pose no problems to a reasonably fit person and the views from the top are very memorable

Easy: Route with little difficulty mainly off road trails and cycle paths
Intermediate: Route with some difficulties of relief on a mixture of quiet country roads, trails and cycle paths
Expert: Route with some challenging hills mainly on quiet country roads

Gem Bridge - Tour de Manche UK

Gem Bridge

Day 1: Plymouth – Okehampton

41.5 Miles / 67  Kilometres

66% Off Road Traffic Free / 34% Quiet Country Lanes

Difficulty: Easy > Intermediate

Includes very steady rise to Okehampton then undulating after Tavistock

Easy: Route with little difficulty mainly off road trails and cycle paths
Intermediate: Route with some difficulties of relief on a mixture of quiet country roads, trails and cycle paths
Expert: Route with some challenging hills mainly on quiet country roads

Exeter Quay - Tour de Manche UK

Exeter Quay

Day 2: Okehampton – Exeter

22 Miles / 36 Kilometres

100% Quiet Country Lanes

Difficulty: Intermediate

Undulating with one hill climb just before Exeter

Easy: Route with little difficulty mainly off road trails and cycle paths
Intermediate: Route with some difficulties of relief on a mixture of quiet country roads, trails and cycle paths
Expert: Route with some challenging hills mainly on quiet country roads

Sidmouth Beach - Tour de Manche UK

Sidmouth Beach

Day 3: Exeter – Sidmouth

22 Miles / 36 Kilometres

70% Off Road Traffic Free / 30% Quiet Country Lanes

Difficulty: Intermediate

Flat estuary ride, rise before Budleigh major hill climb before Sidmouth

Easy: Route with little difficulty mainly off road trails and cycle paths
Intermediate: Route with some difficulties of relief on a mixture of quiet country roads, trails and cycle paths
Expert: Route with some challenging hills mainly on quiet country roads

View of Beer Beach - Tour de Manche UK

Beer Beach

Day 4: Sidmouth – Bridport

34.5 Miles / 56 Kilometres

10% Off Road Traffic Free / 90% Quiet Country Lanes

Difficulty: Intermediate > Expert

Major climbs out of Sidmouth and out of Branscombe, climb after Axminster

Easy: Route with little difficulty mainly off road trails and cycle paths
Intermediate: Route with some difficulties of relief on a mixture of quiet country roads, trails and cycle paths
Expert: Route with some challenging hills mainly on quiet country roads

Dorchester Attractions - Tour de Manche UK

Dorchester Attractions

Day 5: Bridport – Dorchester

20 Miles / 32 Kilometres

2% Off Road Traffic Free / 98% Quiet Country Lanes

Difficulty: Intermediate

Steep climb from Long Bredy to Hardy’s Monument, then all downhill to Dorchester

Easy: Route with little difficulty mainly off road trails and cycle paths
Intermediate: Route with some difficulties of relief on a mixture of quiet country roads, trails and cycle paths
Expert: Route with some challenging hills mainly on quiet country roads

Corfe Castle and Square - Tour de Manche UK

Corfe Castle

Day 6: Dorchester – Poole

35.5 Miles / 57 Kilometres

20% Off Road Traffic Free / 80% Quiet Country Lanes

Difficulty: Easy > Intermediate

Flat ride to Wareham with 2 small rises on the way to Poole

Easy: Route with little difficulty mainly off road trails and cycle paths
Intermediate: Route with some difficulties of relief on a mixture of quiet country roads, trails and cycle paths
Expert: Route with some challenging hills mainly on quiet country roads

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