London has some of the finest cycle routes around. Of course, you need to know where to look! With that in mind, we’re going to go through some of our favourites, some of which are entirely based in the city itself and others that start in the city and go out. Let’s find out which London cycle routes are the best and how you can plot your own.
In the city
The Thames Path up to Greenwich Park
One of the more enjoyable superhighway routes in the city, this journey will give you the chance to get away from the bustle of the inner city and head along the calm Thames route. Even during busy times, there’s a bare minimum of traffic, so it’s ideal for a Saturday morning ride. Plus, you can end the route with a picnic in the park itself, and enjoy what might well be the best view of London in the whole city.
The Richmond Park Loop
This is definitely a trip for anyone who prefers to ride on roads. Richmond as a whole is pretty much biker bliss: it’s got stunning views, a number of hill repeats and – best of all – the chance to spot some wildlife if you time things right. A full loop of the park is around five miles, and you can do as many loops as you want! There’s a cycle hire shop right outside Richmond station if you don’t fancy taking your own bike on the train.
The Grand Union
If you want to take in another side of London, the canal towpaths offer a pretty unique trip. If you start off at the Camden Market area, you’ll be able to follow the paths around past Kings Cross and then even further beyond. In a way, this route is as pleasing as any of the main countryside routes: you’ll go past some of the old warehouse units and gas holders, but there’s a lot of greenery too. The only thing to bear in mind about this route is that it’s shared with pedestrians, so it might not suit the real speed freaks.
The Wandle Trail
If you want a family-friendly route that’s not too hard to get to, the Wandle Trail is a great option. As you’ve probably guessed from the name, the trail follows the River Wandle, which is on the outskirts of the city. The route itself is usually pretty traffic-free, and it’s one of the greenest cycle routes around; nothing but nature and the gentle sound of the stream. The route will take you from East Croydon Station and it’ll finish up by Wandsworth – and by the Thames.
If you’ve only got time for a short route and you can’t get head too far out, it’s very hard to look past Hyde Park. It’s one of the city’s most popular parks for a reason, after all! There are a number of cycle docking stations dotted around, so you won’t need to take your own bike along, and the Park connects a number of central London’s most picturesque destinations. You can take your pick from the various designated cycle lanes, and cycle for as long as you want – we’d definitely recommend the loop that starts from Marble Arch.
Wimbledon to Weybridge
Up for something a little longer? If you’ve got the time – and the fitness levels – this is one of a number of inner to outer routes that are largely traffic-free. Start off at Wimbledon train station before heading across the common and then following the river Bourne, take a skip over the A3 and you’ll end up in Richmond Park. From there, you can get onto the Ham Common and then onto Hampton Court Palace. From there, you can head out as far as you like! Weybridge is a great option, though: it’s easy to jump on a train back.
Stratford to Aldgate
If you’d prefer a more inner-city route and you want to take advantage of another superhighway, this route is an excellent option. It’s a fairly straight route, so you’ll be able to build up a little speed, and you can always give yourself a boost at the start of the route with a coffee (or a smoothie!) at Westfield shopping centre. Once you get to Aldgate you’ll then be in easy reach of Tower Hill or Liverpool Street, making it easy to head back to wherever you’re going.
How can I plan my own route?
One of the beautiful things about the increase in tech is how much easier it’s made planning your own cycle routes. Once upon a time, you’d have been stuck with a map and guesswork! These days, there are several online tools and apps that can do the job. Here are a couple of our favourites.
London Cycle Streets: This is still a beta service, so improvements are ongoing. However, as long as you want a fairly central route, it’s a great option. LCS is a very simple tool that makes use of an open source map tool similar to Google Maps. You type in your start and end destinations, and it’ll plan your journey.
The cool thing is the number of options: it’ll let you choose the quietest, the fastest or the most balanced route. It’ll also give you rough journey times and even how much CO2 you’ll avoid and how many calories you burn! Importantly, it’ll give you a heads up if any sections of the journey are particularly busy. A recommended tool, for sure.
Cyclemaps: There are a number of cycle apps available – Strava’s probably the best known – but Cyclemaps is, for us, probably the best for pure route planning. Why? Simply because it’s so simple to use. Put your information in, and it’ll find you a good route.
You’ll also get a lot of info about the route – elevation, surface, distance, speed and so forth. You can also check where bike stations are, where you can find the best views, where you can rest and so forth. The app boasts over 1 million points of interest around the world, and London has more than its fair share!
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