London isn’t always the first place that springs to mind when it comes to group cycling. But with canals, towpaths and green spaces galore, there are a surprising number of traffic-free cycling routes that are perfect for families and groups.
From young families to regular lycra lovers, here are my top 8 group-friendly cycling routes from London plus two great parks to explore on two wheels. So grab your bike and family/friends, and enjoy!
1. Olympic Park to Epping Forest
Either complete this route on its own or join up with the 2nd route below.
Start: jump on the towpath, heading north from Hackney Wick
Cycling route: follow the towpath up the River Lea, past canal locks and reservoirs, to Epping Forest. Either cycle back or jump on a train from Chingford to London Liverpool Street.
Map for Olympic Park and surrounds Map for Epping Forest and surrounds
Don’t miss: Queen Elizabeth I’s fancy Hunting Lodge, built by her father, Henry VIII
2. Epping Forest
Either complete this route on its own or join up with the 1st route above.
Start: jump on a train from London Liverpool Street to Chingford station and cycle approx. ½ mile to the start of the bridleway cycle paths.
Cycling route: follow the bridleway paths, with a leisurely 8-mile route taking you through Epping Forest, up gentle hills and past tea rooms.
Map for Epping Forest and surrounds
Don’t miss: the forest!
3. Greenwich Park to Gravesend
Start: join the NCR1 from Greenwich
Cycling route: cycle from Greenwich along the NCR1 down the Darent Valley Path, all the way along to Gravesend. Either cycle back or jump on a train from Gravesend to London Charing Cross or London St Pancras International
Map of Greenwich and Gravesend
Don’t miss: the landmarks of the south-east - Cutty Sark, O2 and the Thames Barrier
4. Paddington to Hayes
Start: Little Venice
Cycling route: follow the Grand Union Canal all the way to Hayes. The route can be busy at the beginning with tourists and boat owners but quickly becomes quieter, and is a gentle/flat route. Either cycle back or jump on a train from Hayes & Harlington to London Paddington
Map for Paddington and surrounds Map for Hayes and surrounds
Don’t miss: the different house-boats as you leave Little Venice
5. The Wandle Trail
Start: Crodyon (can cycle it the other way and/or just do a section of it such as Earlsfield to Hackbridge where there are stations at both ends)
Cycling route: follow the River Wandle from Croydon to the Thames at Wandsworth, taking in over 10 parks, wetlands and a nature reserve.
Map for Croydon and Wandsworth
Don’t miss: the blue plaques and local history facts of the cute ‘Wandle Art Trail’
6. Windsor Castle to Putney Bridge
Start: Windsor Castle
Cycling route: follow the NCR4 from Windsor Castle to Putney Bridge, along the River Thames. The route passes two castles - Windsor and Hampton Court Palace - before cutting into Richmond Park.
Map for Windsor and surrounds Map for Putney Bridge and Richmond
Don’t miss: deer spotting in Richmond Park
7. Uxbridge to Rickmansworth
Start: Uxbridge station
Cycling route: follow NR61 through the Colne Valley, mainly via canal paths and some road sections
Map for Uxbridge and Rickmansworth
Don’t miss: the nature reserves adjacent to the route and jump off the route for some water sports
Picnic and cycling spots
8. Richmond Park
Start: any park entrance
Distance: the main loop is 11km
Cycling route: the main loop is 11km or if curious about off-road, follow the outer pathMap for Richmond Park
9. Regent’s Park
Start: any park entrance
Distance: the outer loop is 4.5km
Cycling route: the outer loop is 4.5km so do as many laps as you’d like before the well-earned picnic feastMap for Regent's Park
10. Parks combo
There are green spaces a plenty in London, so you could combine cycling through some of the central parks, with some royal spotting along the way - St James’ Park, Green Park and Hyde Park. Just be careful of pedestrians, as they have right of way.