January has once again arrived, which often equates to hitting the gym, cutting out alcohol and generally detoxing. But if you’d rather get some sweet fresh air instead of fighting over all that gym equipment, why not feel the sun on your face (well let’s hope) and the wind in your hair with a leisurely pedal down the best cycling routes in London? It’s super easy to hire a bike – here are ten routes of where to go.
1. Stratford to Waltham Abbey
All the inspiration you need to complete this one comes at the start. It begins in Olympic Park, scene of some rather historic British cycling victories back in 2012. You don’t need to be Chris Hoy to tackle this route, as it takes a leisurely meander up the River Lea. Take in the sights of the wonderful Walthamstow Wetlands as you head north, to the end point at Waltham Abbey, a quaint market town that’s home to many a cute pub, and a rather splendid church.
2. Regent’s Canal
Here at Secret London HQ, we’re rather familiar with the overburdened hellscape that is Camden Town station. So we’ll heartily endorse any cycling route that negates the need to go there. This route follows Regent’s Canal past Kings Cross, through the East End and then onto Canary Wharf, although you can take it the other way to see ZSL London Zoo, Little Venice, and Paddington Basin. Quite the charmer if we say so ourselves.
3. Richmond Park
Wonderfully wild, Richmond Park is unlike any other park in London. A jaunt (or run) along the Tamsin Trail is the perfect way to discover what Richmond Park has to offer – it circles the park, taking 40-60 minutes to complete. Keep your eyes peeled for the herd of deer roaming wild and free, and once you’re done, head somewhere pretty for a bite to eat. We’d suggest the fairytale Hollyhock Café for a big ol’ slice of cake. You’ve earned it! For a bonus cycle route, get down to the riverside for an incredibly scenic ride.
4. St James’ Park to Kyoto Garden
If you want to live the park life, take this cycling route. It traverses St James’s Park, Green Park, Hyde Park, and ends at the magical Kyoto Garden in Holland Park. Green as you like, and quite flat too, this is a gentle jaunt through some of London’s prettiest spots. Take a picnic to eat at Holland Park, or hop back on the bike and strike out for the cafes and bakeries of Notting Hill for a bite to eat.
5. Regent’s Park to Hampstead Heath
From one beautiful London park to another. Starting at Regents Park, you can cycle through Queen Mary’s Rose Garden and on to Primrose Hill. Dodge tourists in Camden, and then mosey on up to Hampstead Heath, where the views from Parliament Hill are worth all that pedalling. From here, you can wander around the faded splendour of the Hampstead Pergola, take a dip in one of the Hampstead bathing ponds, or sink a pint or two at The Spaniards Inn, one of London’s oldest pubs.
6. Croydon to Westerham
One for the southernmost of South Londoners, is this one. Especially since it takes you almost all the way to Kent. Alright, stop the shrieks of “that’s not London!” because this is a bucolic beauty. The charms of Croydon quickly give way to rolling hills and scenic English countryside, ending up on the very edge of the wonderful Kent Downs. Of all these cycling routes, it’s probably the steepest, but the views and country air provide a perfect payoff.
7. Battersea Park to Greenwich
This 16-kilometre trail will give you the opportunity to view the who’s who of London landmarks – including the Tate Modern, the London Eye, The Globe and Southbank. Starting at Battersea Park, you’ll be cycling along the banks of the River Thames opposite the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben and the Sea Containers. Continuing past Borough Market – a great spot to refuel with a coffee or some tasty grub – you’ll then make your way South East to the UNESCO-listed Greenwich Park which is home to the Royal Observatory.
8. Finsbury Park to Alexandra Palace
This charming cycle will give you the chance to discover one of London’s most delightful and off-the-beaten-track spots – Haringey’s Parkland Walk. Along the route – which takes you from Finsbury Park to Crouch End and onwards to Ally Pally – you’ll pass abandoned railway platforms, graffitied walls and mysterious statues. You’ll also stand a good chance of spotting some of London’s resident wildlife with this being London’s longest nature reserve and all. Post-cycle, head up to the top of Alexandra Palace from where you’ll be able to view some of the most magnificent views of London.
9. The Wandle Trail
This easy-to-follow cycling route navigates the route from Wandsworth down to Croydon following the picturesque River Wandle. It’s a lovely 20-kilometre or so meander and starts along the National Rail Cycle Route 20 from outside Wandsworth Town Station. As you cycle, you may be lucky enough to spot some of the resident wildlife which resides here, including brown trout, newts, frogs, herons and brown trout. Top spots to see along the way include Morden Hall Park, Deen City Farm and Merton Abbey Mills.
10. Epping Forest
This vast forest situated near Chingford and Woodford offers up over 8,000 acres of space in which to go cycling. An abundance of lakes, rivers, cute little bridges and plenty of Instagram worthy spots live in this not so little gem, and there are plenty of historical sites to see as you cycle around. One place not to be missed is Amesbury Banks – the remains of an Iron Age hill fort built in around 500 BC.
Also published on Medium.