Sport of the Month London Cycling in London & South of the Capital

Totally Sportyís look at cycling London and the South beyond the capital commute


Totally Sporty wants to help rekindle the capitalís love affair with cycling by looking beyond the commute to the ten best routes that cannot fail but to rediscover your love affair; as you saddle up with your two-wheeled companion to discover the secrets and charm of London and the surrounding countryside.

Summer 2010 has seen the capital celebrate pedal power like never before, with the London Transport Museum coinciding their exhibition, Cycling in London, with Transport for Londonís launch of its Cycle Superhighways and Cycle Hire Schemes. The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has invested and implemented the scheme for an ethos of a capital concerned with the environment and health, with the aim to change our view of London. Definite encouragement has been for the Londoner to rediscover the romance with their bicycle languishing in the garage, draped in cobwebs and dust of many years of neglect! However, why be confined to the mentality of using the bicycle for commuting purposes alone? Totally Sporty would like to call upon all Londoners wanting to take a recreational pedal pathway of discovery within the capital, or perhaps discovering the beauty that surrounds the capital!

However, despite knowing that saddling up will ensure a healthier and more productive you, as well as the feel good factor associated with doing our bit for the environment, are you still left unconvinced? Does the thought of cycling London still prompts doubt in your mind? Perhaps, the prospect of being exposed to the battlefield that is the London streets appears too much? Be prepared to challenge this mentality as some selected facts taken from statistics for Transport for London, will start to sweat out such concerns!

Infinite benefits, regardless of proficiency, attach to cycling, which when teamed with the endless possibilities cycling in London presents, have led to Totally Sporty pioneering to ensure you get the very best out of London by compiling a top ten list of routes in London, also incorporating idyllic routes in the home counties, to see if you canít pedal a different view!

Best London Cycle Routes

Brentford to Little Venice (Grand Union Canal and Regentís Canal)

Distance: 17.90 miles (28.8 km)
Average Duration: 3 hours
Difficulty: Medium

This car-free route takes an enjoyable journey through the centre of town via picturesque pubs, cafes and shops. This distance may appear too long for some, so why not try doing sections of it for a fun day out when with the family, or go the whole distance when in the need of a challenge!

Hampton Court to Putney Bridge, London

Distance: 13 miles (20 km)
Time: 1 hrs 35 min
Difficulty: Easy

This provides a journey of discovery through south-west London, you will find yourself peddling a pathway from Hampton Court Palace, through the pedestrianised town of Kingston north along the river via Richmond Park (a wonderful London wilderness), to the finish at Barnes right by the Wetland Trust.

Tamsin Trail, Richmond Park

Distance: 7 miles (11km)
Time: 54 min
Difficulty: Easy

This is a circular route around the hidden wilderness of south west London, Richmond Park; it never fails but to be a completely beautiful route away from Londonís bustle. The mostly car-free route encourages discovery of the parks attractions such as the Isabella Plantation and Pembroke lodge. This route can be easily combined with other cycle links inside and outside the park, such as Barnes and Putney to the East.

Tower Bridge to Woolwich

Distance: 11miles (17.70 km)
Time: 1hr 20 min
Difficulty: Easy/Medium

This provides a more historic route around south east Londonís past docks and surrounding parks, commencing at Tower Bridge and weaving its way to Maritime Greenwich. The route takes you past old waterfront warehouses, some derelict others converted to apartments, whilst winding through narrow streets and old alley ways until you reach the Cutty Sark (although not to be re-opened until 2011), National Maritime Museum and for those fancying an extra challenge a climb up the hill, The Royal Observatory.

Best Cycle Routes outside London

North Downs, Surrey

Distance: 18. 67 miles (30.05 km)
Time: 1 hr 48 min
Difficulty: Easy/Moderate

South Downs Way, Sussex

Distance: 14 miles (22 km)
Time: 3-4 hrs
Difficulty: Moderate (ascent 560 m)

This is a beautiful ride taking you through the southern countryside. The route starts in the historic town of Lewes, continuing to the undeniably beautiful Kingston, a village surrounded by history, with the route taking you over the Black Cap (a Bronze Age burial mound) and along the old dew ponds, now a natural oasis.

Cuckoo Trail, Eastbourne to Heathfield, East Sussex

Distance: 11 miles (17 km)
Time: 1 hrs 19 min
Difficulty: Easy

Another beautiful traffic-free cycle, perfect for families (hence not for the keen cyclists), is a trail along an old railway line, hence it is also perfect for walkers! It is important to note that horse-riding is permitted on sections of this trail. The ride through varied countryside, from woodland to farmland, is filled with beautiful sculptures and carved seats for you to take breaks at as you take on the gentle 11 mile, 122m peddle from Polegate to Heathfield.

Colne Valley Trail

Distance: 6.96 miles (11.2 km)
Time: 1hr
Difficulty: Easy/Medium

This trail takes you along the often overlooked Colne Valley; it is fantastic for cyclers as it offers scenery and idyllic villages alongside a relatively quiet route on small and quaint traffic-free country roads. The only occasional hazard one can encounter on this route is the farmer in his tractor, or a rabbit or pheasant.

Cycling the galleries of the East End

Distance: 3.98 miles (6.4 km)
Time: 3 hrs (Includes time for gallery visits)
Difficulty: Easy

In distance, this provides very little physical challenge, however it does provide the unique opportunity to journey through the artist capital of east London, beginning with Wharf Road Galleries, then on to Regentís Studios, Vyner Street Studios, Mile End Art Pavilion and finishing at the Limehouse Gallery.

Thames Valley Cycleway

Distance: 99 miles (159.32 km) (40miles traffic-free)
Time: 1 day (or parts over several days)
Difficulty: Hard/Medium

This ride is pretty strenuous if you decide to do the whole route, but in completing it as a whole or just taking parts you will be rewarded by the escape from the city rush. The route takes you along the Thames via Richmond and Hampton Court, continuing on to the infamous Windsor and Eton. The route continues through Maidenhead and Reading reaching the breathtaking Chiltern Hills, although arduous a climb, you will be rewarded by the historic Oxford that marks the finish of your ride.

Where to find cycling clubs in London

Use the Find a Sport Club/Venue directory on Totally Sporty to find your nearest cycling club in London. There are currently over 25 excellent cycling clubs dotted around London to choose from covering road cycling, mountain biking, time trialling.   Here you will find lots of useful information on each cycling club, including when they meet for a club ride, where they are based and go on weekend rides and lots of other useful information. 

Cycling in London & South of the Capital

Did you know...?

  • *To travel 4 miles in Central London takes an average of 40 minutes by car compared to an average 22 minutes by bike.The space an average size car takes is equivalent to 8 bicycles.
  • *Cycling is proven to increase your calorie consumption, hence raises metabolic rate helping to shed any lingering extra pounds without spending that fortune (ITíS FREE!) and getting tied to that gym contract youíve been contemplating! 
  • *The London cycling community is surprisingly diverse, not only is it full of a growing commuter and recreational population, but with 500 police on bikes and also a fully equipped cycling paramedic team.
  • *Those travelling in cars are exposed to a staggering three times more air pollution than pedestrians or cyclists.



Cycling in London & South of the Capital