London by Bike: cycle routes

Time Out's staff show you the best cycling rides in the capital

We sent out five of our most adventurous writers to explore all corners of London and recommend the best routes for you to discover on a bike. You can tackle each route in full or simply select a section of the journey to try for yourself. Where possible, our writers have highlighted the nearest Barclays docking station where you can pick up and drop off your bike, but for a clearer view of all Barclays docking stations, check out this map. Remember to bear in mind the price of hiring a Barclays bike before embarking on your cycling route.

Choose your routeCentral l North l South l East l West

The route in detail

Start at Oval tube station, and turn north up Harleyford Street. Take the first right into an unsignposted road, and find yourself confronted by the home of 167 years of London cricketing history: The Oval cricket ground (1). Cycle around this quiet suburban road (avoid match days) for a lap of the ground. Circuit completed, you’re back in Harleyford Road. Head north and follow it to the top. Fork off right into Kennington Lane. Take the first left into Glyn Street and enter Spring Gardens. Between the mid-17th and 19th centuries, this was known as Vauxhall Gardens, and was one of the capital’s major entertainment sites. Handel premiered his ‘Music for the Royal Fireworks' to a 12,000-strong crowd here, and vast audiences gathered to watch reenactments of battles, balloon races and human zoo exhibits. Head northeast, and follow the path until you come out in Goding Street. Turn right and head north until you reach the end of the road. Turn right into Glasshouse Walk and take the third left into Tyers Street.

Cycle along Tyers Street until it ends at Black Prince Road, then pass through the green bollards almost opposite. This leads into Lambeth Walk: once the site of hundreds of shops and a busy weekly market (as well as giving name to the famous Cockney song). Follow it until it comes out in Lambeth Road. Turn right, then pause at the crossroad with Kennington Road. Head into the Imperial War Museum opposite, or contemplate history from the adjacent Three Stags pub. Take a seat in Chaplin’s Corner – named so because of the War Museum’s days as a mental asylum, where Charlie Chaplin’s mother was interred, while Chaplin’s father slowly drank himself to death in the pub opposite.

Returning to your bike, head north up Kennington Road. At Lambeth North tube station, turn right into Baylis Road. Follow it until Waterloo Road intersects it, then head straight over into The Cut (2). Carry on as it becomes Union Street, until just after you pass the Rose and Crown pub on your right. The next left will be Redcross Street. Get off your bike here, and walk up the road. On your right you’ll see metal gates strewn with ribbons. This is Crossbones graveyard, an unconsecrated burial ground for prostitutes during Medieval times, and nowadays a memorial to the forgotten dead.

Return to Union Street and carry on as you were, until you reach Borough High Street. Turn right. Just after Newcomen Road on your left, you’ll see a green shopfront called St Christopher’s Village (3). Turn left down the little alley right at its side. Follow it until it ends, then turn left. Cross over Newcomen Street and head up into Guy’s Hospital. At the end of the road, turn right, then immediately take a left into Great Maze Pond. Follow it until it comes out on St Thomas’ Street, then turn right and take the first left under the bridge at the side of the Shard. This is Stainer Street, which doubled as a WWII air raid shelter, and was the site of 68 deaths during a direct hit from a bomber. Follow it out into Tooley Street and turn right. Continue past Tower Bridge (4) and, after you pass Shad Thames on your left, take the next left into Mill Street. This area was once known as Jacob’s Island, and it's one of the settings used by Charles Dickens in ‘Oliver Twist’. Follow it to the end, then turn right. Continue along this road, until you see East Lane. Turn right down it, then turn left into Chambers Street. Carry on until you cross Bevington Street. Turn left, then take the first right onto Bermondsey Wall East. Carry on for ten minutes until you see The Angel pub on your left. This lovely Samuel Smith’s pub dates back to the Middle Ages. Head up the little staircase at the back for the river terrace. Job done.

Ridden by Alexi Duggins