10 traffic-free cycling routes from London

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

Distance: 25km

Level: easy

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

Map for Olympic Park and surrounds Map for Epping Forest and surrounds

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.

Distance: c.13km

Level: easy

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!

Map for Epping Forest and surrounds

3. Greenwich Park to Gravesend

Start: join the NCR1 from Greenwich

Distance: 43km

Level: easy-medium

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

Map of Greenwich and Gravesend Thames Path London

4. Paddington to Hayes

Start: Little Venice

Distance: 24km

Level: easy

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

Map for Paddington and surrounds Map for Hayes and surrounds

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)

Distance: 20km

Level: easy-medium

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’

Map for Croydon and Wandsworth

6. Windsor Castle to Putney Bridge

Start: Windsor Castle

Distance: 49km

Level: medium

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

Map for Windsor and surrounds Map for Putney Bridge and Richmond Deer in Richmond Park

7. Uxbridge to Rickmansworth

Start: Uxbridge station

Distance: 13km

Level: easy

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

Map for Uxbridge and Rickmansworth

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 path

Map 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 feast

Map for Regent's Park
Cycle hire in London 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.

Use this guide as a tick box of traffic-free routes you must try from London and let us know which one is your favourite in the comment box below.

More on cycling Find your nearest greenspace OS Maps for London

Edited: 14/06/2021