Eight new Foodie Routes designed to put Spring into your step, flex those cycling muscles and explore the true flavours of Dorset!
Athelhampton House provided the perfect backdrop when Dorset food producers and representatives from Dorset Food and Drink met recently to celebrate the launch of eight new Dorset food routes from Dorset Pedal.
This is a creative initiative from Dorset Food & Drink which, with the support of DEFRA’s Food is GREAT campaign, encourages participants to harness some Dorset Pedal Power and explore the amazing range of food this unique county has to offer.
The Foodie Routes tell the story of how Dorset is fast becoming the “larder of the South West” and the new leaflets can be downloaded from: www.dorsetaonb.org.uk/food-and-drink/foodie-routes or copies are available from Tourism Information Centres, libraries, cafes, shops and a wide range of tourism providers supporting the initiative.
With four routes covering Eastern Dorset and the Purbecks, and four routes covering Northern Dorset and the Stour Valley, the new Dorset Pedals are designed to get people out and about in the Dorset countryside and finding out what Dorset actually tastes like.
Katharine Wright who heads up Dorset Food & Drink said, “Whether you take a leisurely cycle ride or pull on a pair of walking boots to discover routes that lie off the beaten track, there are culinary delights aplenty from all our wonderful Dorset farmers, producers and artisans waiting to be sampled and savoured.”
Cafes and shops are featuring Dorset Pedal banners to alert people to the tasty treats and discounts available especially for Dorset Pedal people.
The Eastern Dorset and Purbeck routes include three cycle routes and one walk. Route 1 takes in Milton Abbas, the Piddle Valley and the chalk downs. This area is home to numerous cherry orchards and vibrantly coloured liquid cherry juice is available from local sellers along the route. Or if you are seeking something stronger, the unexpected rows of vines from award winning sparkling wine producer Langham Wine Estate should provide inspiration. Cattle and lamb can be seen grazing on the wildflower rich grass and it’s not difficult to see why meat from this region is worthy of international recognition. Route 2 is designed for walkers and goes through the county town of Dorchester which is a well-known food hub for lovers of Dorset produce. Followers of this route will find the famous Dorset novelist, Thomas Hardy’s cottage and if they visit on 30 April can enjoy the iconic Dorset Knob Throwing Festival at Kingston Maurward.
It’s back to the bikes for Routes 3 & 4 and on Route 3 cyclists can experience another form of transport and catch the steam powered Swanage Railway that will take them back to the start of their route while they enjoy some scrumptious Purbeck ice-cream and admire views of Corfe Castle. Route 4 goes around Rempstone, giving cyclists some stunning views of Poole Harbour and the opportunity to drop in at some award winning hotels and restaurants where they can sample some of the area’s delicious seafood, or just relax with a Dorset picnic on the golden sands of Studland Bay.
The Northern Dorset and Stour Valley Pedals explore Dorset’s ancient past with Route 1 offering a shorter 12 mile route or a longer 19 mile cycle through the Stour Valley. It starts at ancient Badbury Rings and also offers the opportunity to detour and explore the spectacular house and gardens of the Kingston Lacy Estate. If you choose to explore this route you will see why the area has such great dairy products with an abundance of dairy herds yielding a variety of dairy delights such as delicious Barford ice cream, made on site using only the finest ingredients.
Route 2 around Cranborne is designed for walkers and what was once seen as the “larder of the aristocracy” is now a gold mine of local food producers. From the Sixpenny Brewery to makers of Chalke Valley Cheese, a talented “cakesmith” to a traditional baker, there is so much to tempt the palette along this gentle five mile walk.
There are many independent producers, farm shops and even a brewery to be found along Route 3 which centres on Child Okeford and is the ideal area for finding the ultimate Ploughman’s Lunch as bread, cheese and beer are hard to beat after a leisurely ride along the North Dorset Trailway.
Route 4 is all about cheese as novelist Thomas Hardy’s “vale of little dairies” is still much in evidence in the Blackmore Vale and the cheese heritage of the area is still celebrated with Shaftesbury’s Gold Hill Cheese Run in May and the Sturminster Newton Cheese Festival in September. Dorset’s famous Blue Vinny Cheese lives on thanks to the efforts of Woodbridge Farm on the edge of the Blackmore Vale. Reviving production of this cheese after World War 2, it now makes a number of star appearances including in Dorset Blue Vinny Soup, sausages, bread and even chocolates and ice-cream.
Photograph courtesy of Dorset Food & Drink