Best parks for cycling in London
London has gained a justified reputation as one of the greenest cities in Europe. Despite its size, the city has managed to cram in a huge amount of green spaces, many of which are ideal for a day’s cycling.
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 groups.
From young families to regular lycra lovers, here are my top 8 group-friendly cycling routes from London. So grab your bike and family/friends, and enjoy!
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.
Don’t miss: Queen Elizabeth I’s fancy Hunting Lodge, built by her father, Henry VIII
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.
Don’t miss: the forest!
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
Don’t miss: the landmarks of the south-east - Cutty Sark, O2 and the Thames Barrier
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
Don’t miss: the different house-boats as you leave Little Venice
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.
Don’t miss: the blue plaques and local history facts of the cute ‘Wandle Art Trail’
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.
Don’t miss: deer spotting in Richmond Park
Start: Uxbridge station
Cycling route: follow NR61 through the Colne Valley, mainly via canal paths and some road sections
Don’t miss: the nature reserves adjacent to the route and jump off the route for some water sports
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 path
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 feast
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.