Five brilliant London cycling routes

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We've come up with five brilliant London cycling routes that will suit beginners or families through to experienced cyclists who want to explore the city by bicycle. From canals in the East End to off-road in Epping Forest, we've got London mapped out for cyclists

  • Five brilliant London cycling routes

    Cycling along Regent's Canal


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    East End greenery – Mile End's canalsides, Victoria Park and London Fields

    Start
    Limehouse Basin
    End London Fields
    Time 20mins (several hours with stops!)

    This ride takes you on a lesser-used stretch of Regent’s Canal. Beyond the multicoloured longboats and monochrome locks is the waterway that connects Victoria Park with Limehouse Basin – a particularly child-friendly stretch. Full of parks, duck-feeding spots and playgrounds, this green route runs through three of east London’s parks. Newly revamped Mile End Park is bursting with activities to keep the youngsters occupied while being perfectly safe (if you dodge the odd over-enthusiastic new cyclist and the dog who thinks it can beat you in a race). The route then takes in Victoria Park and finishes in London Fields.

    At Limehouse, take the Thames Path towards Islington. The views aren’t instantly inspiring, but persevere. There are a couple of locks (these will no doubt provoke many ‘hows’ and ‘whys’, so make sure you’ve swotted up for those inquisitive moments), plus a small rubbish dump on the opposite bank which amply demonstrates the perils of littering. There are also some gentle hills for bumpy freewheeling and a canoe school offering hilarious views of teenagers falling into the canal.

    Swerve right into Mile End Park. Often overlooked, this narrow strip of greenery has benefited from a total regeneration in
    the past few years. It affords an opportunity for a toilet stop and refreshments at the café under the green bridge. Further on, you can check out what’s going on in the Art Pavilion, which is embedded in the green ‘Teletubbies’ hills, and keep an eye out for the changing park art. With younger children, follow the green signs to the kids’ park for a fantastic sandpit fashioned from a dry riverbed.

    Back on the canal, take a right by the orange fishtail bench, and your first sign of the Ecology Centre is a big pond full of lilies and reeds, jumping with ducks, moorhens and coots. You can even enjoy a cold one outside the Palm Tree pub, the perfect halfway rest stop.

    If you’ve not worn out the kids with one park, carry on for the double hit of Victoria Park and London Fields. By Victoria Park’s busy nets, you’ll usually be able to see a full-scale cricket match; if there isn’t one on the go, whip a Frisbee out of your pannier and make use of all the space.

    Rejoin the canal by Rose Gate and continue to London Fields following signs to Broadway Market, leaving the towpath via the ramp. If the market is in full swing, it might be an idea to walk the bikes down this bit – and don’t forget to stop at the juice bar at the market for a mango smoothie. Then, if you’ve not spent too much time pottering about the other parks, head over to the London Fields Lido for a revitalising dip. You deserve it. Kimberley Smith

    Parkland walk - a leafy route along a disused railway line in north London

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    Crouch Hill

    Start Finsbury Park
    End Highgate’s end of the line
    Time 20mins without stops

    Starting at the west end of Finsbury Park just above the tennis courts, the bridge across the current railway morphs into the disused railway of Parkland Walk. Formerly part of the London and North Eastern Railway’s line from Finsbury Park to Edgware, the railway was closed in 1970. In 1984 the tracks were removed and Parkland Walk was opened. The trail runs all the way to Alexandra Palace and is definitively the flattest cycle route in London. Trees loom each side of the track, which does mean the views are intermittent, although to all intents and purposes you could be in the heart of the Suffolk countryside.

    There are no real corners on Parkland Walk, and the route meanders along with the turning circle of an aircraft carrier. Bridges stretch above Upper Tollington Park and Stapleton Hall Road, as well as under Crouch End Hill and Stanhope Road. The adventure playground, with its slides and walkways, is a great rest stop for kids, and only occasionally frequented by the dreaded hoodie. Look out for the abandoned platform, a remnant of the defunct Crouch End Hill Station. With views so restricted and a distinct lack of signage, the GPS-less might be a bit confused as to where they are exactly, though at every road you can schlep off the track to check your location.

    The sign at the Highgate end lists the flora and fauna that can be seen. A thriving community of foxes and hedgehogs makes sense – as do the many species of butterfly it itemises – but surely the claim that a type of small deer (the muntjac, or barking deer) inhabits these woods is fanciful. This is just a thin strip of woodland – not exactly Epping Forest. Where would they live? Where, more to the point, are all their droppings?

    Super-skinny slicks won’t appreciate the stones, and the drainage is quite poor, so if there’s been drizzle then no mudguards will mean a filthy face, so be prepared to slow down at times. Also, a minor cycling controversy has been brewing between the Friends of the Parkland Walk and Haringey Council. The Friends (and local MP Lynne Featherstone) are opposing council proposals to Tarmac the route to make it easier for cycling, emphasising that this is called Parkland Walk. Josh Heller

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Finsbury Park Highgate’s end of the line 20mins without stopsStarting at the west end of just above the tennis courts, the bridge across the current railway morphs into the disused railway of Parkland Walk. Formerly part of the London and North Eastern Railway’s line from Finsbury Park to Edgware, the railway was closed in 1970. In 1984 the tracks were removed and Parkland Walk was opened. The trail runs all the way to Alexandra Palace and is definitively the flattest cycle route in London. Trees loom each side of the track, which does mean the views are intermittent, although to all intents and purposes you could be in the heart of the Suffolk countryside.There are no real corners on Parkland Walk, and the route meanders along with the turning circle of an aircraft carrier. Bridges stretch above and , as well as under and Stanhope Road. The adventure playground, with its slides and walkways, is a great rest stop for kids, and only occasionally frequented by the dreaded hoodie. Look out for the abandoned platform, a remnant of the defunct . With views so restricted and a distinct lack of signage, the GPS-less might be a bit confused as to where they are exactly, though at every road you can schlep off the track to check your location. The sign at the end lists the flora and fauna that can be seen. A thriving community of foxes and hedgehogs makes sense – as do the many species of butterfly it itemises – but surely the claim that a type of small deer (the muntjac, or barking deer) inhabits these woods is fanciful. This is just a thin strip of woodland – not exactly Epping Forest. Where would they live? Where, more to the point, are all their droppings?Super-skinny slicks won’t appreciate the stones, and the drainage is quite poor, so if there’s been drizzle then no mudguards will mean a filthy face, so be prepared to slow down at times. Also, a minor cycling controversy has been brewing between the Friends of the Parkland Walk and Haringey Council. The Friends (and local MP Lynne Featherstone) are opposing council proposals to Tarmac the route to make it easier for cycling, emphasising that this is called Parkland . Easy | Medium | Advanced

Users say

8 comments
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christian louboutin heels

I have read a selection of pages of your webpage, however the nav does not seem to line up with the rest of the webpage correctly which makes clicking the hyperlinks difficult. Want me to mail you a screengrab?

Louise Armstrong
Louise Armstrong

Where to Ride London is a brilliant cycle book for London. It has 50 well thought out routes - mast traffic free. I would recommend to anyone wanting to cycle in London

Lucy
Lucy

Any maps?? Not very practical having to read through 8 paragraphs to get an idea of the route,,,

Jon
Jon

Great ride! I recommend when you have the energy to go further north of the Green Hut and then cross the A104 and return on the path on the east side of Epping Forest

mal (woodford green)
mal (woodford green)

this is my local ride around epping forest and your right its difficult to suss out which turning to take.having said that the more you go around these parts the more you get to know that area,by the way andrew its highams park mate! dont forget the motorcyle tea hut as well,always different bikes of interest to people,about a mile before the cycle tea hut.hang mans hill too,the road seems to go downhill but you go up...weird.ask locals to find.

Tim
Tim

I tried this route today, but found it difficult to follow in parts, as you have to guess quite a few different turnings. Also, cycling through Epping Forest is very confusing, as it is criss-crossed by paths of every description, from rabbit runs to wide, gravelled thoroughfares. The destination is a good one, though, as all the bikers and cyclists meet at the clearing, where the tea hut serves great baps, cake and plastic tea. It took me 2 hours, but I had to stop and consult the A to Z a lot.

terry
terry

this like a good 'un; maybe it's because i'm a central london person;