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4 less-polluted cycle routes in London

By Claire Webb

Need some fresh air? Escape the traffic and head for the road less cycled with these greener routes around picturesque parks, canals and nature reserves.

1. King’s Cross to Paddington

Start: Granary Square
End: Little Venice

This route follows Regent’s Canal west to Camden Market and Primrose Hill’s chi-chi boutiques and gastropubs, skirting the northern edge of Regent’s Park, past London Zoo’s enclosures. The final stop is Little Venice, where you can quench your thirst at a floating café or pedal on: the Paddington branch of the Grand Union Canal takes you towards Westbourne Park and Notting Hill.

2. Royal Parks

Start: Horse Guards Road, St James’s Park
End: Kensington Gardens

This scenic route takes in four royal parks and three royal palaces. After pootling past Horse Guards Parade, head up The Mall – the finishing line when the Tour de France raced through London in 2014 – to Buckingham Palace. Doff your helmet to Her Maj, then continue along Constitution Hill’s off-road bike lane to Hyde Park Corner roundabout and under Wellington Arch. Cycle paths loop around the edge of Hyde Park (they’re marked with red dotted lines on the map), before crossing into Kensington Gardens at Mount Gate. For a car-free cycle, do it on Sundays when The Mall and Constitution Hill are closed to traffic.

3. The Wandle Trail

Start: Wandle Delta, near Wandsworth Park
End: Wandle Park, Croydon

This well-marked, 14-mile trail follows the Wandle River and traces the history of Wandsworth’s industrial heritage, wending from the Thames Path to Croydon. Once one of London’s most polluted rivers, the Wandle’s wetlands are now a haven for wildlife and south Londoners in need of a little quiet. The path meanders through more than ten parks and nature reserves. You can refuel at Merton Abbey Mills, an old textile mill that houses cafés, bars and markets at weekends.

4. Waterloo to Greenwich (Quietway 1)

Start: Cornwall Road, South Bank
End: Greenwich DLR

Transport for London’s Quietways are leisurely cycle routes along backstreets and paths. Quietway 1 runs for five miles, beginning behind the National Theatre and ending in the heart of Greenwich. It’s an easy way to potter between attractions; you’ll take in the Globe, Tate Modern, Borough Market, Tower Bridge, Deptford Market Yard’s cafés and bars and Greenwich’s Royal Museums. It also goes past pockets of history – such as Trinity Church Square’s handsome Georgian townhouses.

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