As I write this, the sun is streaming in through the window, perfectly warming my left-hand side. And so I’m thinking ahead to the weekend, and what I can do in London to make the most of the weather (while it lasts). For those of you who also fancy a weekend of riding, we’ve saved you the hassle of route-research and put together a list of some of the most beautiful and rewarding bike rides in and around London.
1. Richmond Park
We’ll start relatively easy. Richmond Park in South London combines large open spaces with some surprisingly dense forest and has its own cycle trails. It’s a perfect spot for a family cycle; ideal for stopping along the way for a casual picnic and relaxing. The Tamsin trail takes you on a full circuit if you’re looking for a longer ride. Remember to keep your eyes peeled for wild deer!
2. Paddington To Hayes
This route takes you down the canal path from Paddington. It’s just a 15-mile ride, beginning in Little Venice and ending up in Hayes, which has only officially been a part of London for the last 50 years. At first, the ride can be a bit busy as you dodge wandering tourists but once you escape central London and reach a wide towpath, the perfection of your surroundings will hit you. You’ll pass Kensal Green Cemetery, Wormwood Scrubs Park and Park Royal before reaching Hayes. Stop and rest here for a pub lunch and a couple of drinks before heading back – take the train if tired!
3. Corkscrew Hill To The North Downs
Setting out from Crystal Palace, this is a fun, challenging, circular route of about 30 miles, which can be completed in a little under three hours. The ride takes you through West Wickham and out into an expanse of rolling hills, luscious green valleys and ancient woodlands.
4. Hampton Court to Putney
A royal backdrop greets cyclists as they set off from Hampton Court Palace (a train ride from Waterloo). Having explored the palace, cycle along the Thames to Kingston Bridge. From here, continue to Richmond, but make sure you save enough energy to tackle the climb into the park itself. Once you’re at the top, you’ll be rewarded with miles of beautiful wildlife-filled trails before finishing at Putney Bridge. Time for a pint.
5. Downs And Wealds
Beginning in Greenwich, the Downs and Wealds cycle route will take you from London to Hastings via Brighton and Eastbourne. Not for the faint-of-heart, this route is 164 miles in length, but it can easily be split into two separate rides. There are plenty of opportunities to stop and rest along the way too – the ride skirts some of the most idyllic seaside towns along the way. We’d recommend fuelling up on traditional fish and chips and resting in a proper British B&B.
6. Thames Valley Cycleway
Weighing in at 432 miles, this ride is not one to try on your Brompton. In fact, it’s best reserved for cycling veterans alone. The Thames Valley Cycleway stretches from Central London way out West to picturesque Fishguard on the Welsh coast. The first stretch from Greenwich to Putney Bridge may be a little slow going but should open up as you pass Richmond Park and head through Reading, Bath and Bristol. Any of these cities make an ideal place to stop and rest up if you feel the ache. A well-deserved soak in the stunning Roman baths wouldn’t go amiss. Once you’re feeling better, your path continues into Wales and winds up in Fishguard, a small coastal town in Pembrokeshire which feels worlds away from Central London.
Get Out There.
Hop on your bike and get exploring. There are plenty of beautiful routes to tempt you out of the city, and if you’re not sure whether your road bike is the right fit for a longer ride, check out the range of bikes available near you with peer-to-peer cycle hire.
If you’ve yet to purchase a bike, check out our London bike hire options and select the steed that best suits your needs and location. Don’t do it alone – surprise a friend. Rent a bike on their behalf and get out there together. Bike rental is really simple and with our bike hire, you’re certain to find something to suit you – whether it be a mountain bike, road bike or even a tandem bike depending on how brave you’re feeling.