We have some fantastic cycle trails right across London. Forget weaving through traffic and instead imagine the joy of the open road with no cars! You can breathe in the fresh autumn air on purpose built cycle paths, with your children cheering you on as you pedal away the stresses of daily life. If you have older kids who like to cycle on their own bikes (with or without stabilisers!) then all of our chosen routes are ideal as they are all on excellent paths with no traffic in sight. Pop on a helmet and get cycling!
Cycle Route One
The Tamsin Trail
Location: Richmond Park
Distance: 8 mile circuit
Terrain: Fine gravel path with gentle hills
OS Landranger Map 176
Richmond Park is the largest Royal Park in London and is home to around 650 free roaming deer as well as enough squirrels and chirruping birds to keep any tot in a baby seat constantly cooing in delight! The Tamsin trail is a purpose built cycle trail which circuits the whole park, created by the generosity of an anonymous donor who wanted the trail named after his daughter, Tamsin. The pastoral landscape of hills, woodlands, ponds, gardens and grasslands set amongst ancient trees offers a peaceful glorious rural vista just minutes from the hurly burly of town life.
You can start the trail at any of the car parks near the gates, or if you fancy having a go at cycling with baby but don’t want the expense of buying all the kit you can try hiring bikes instead. There are cycle hire facilities in Richmond Park in the car park near Roehampton Gate from April-September. Out of season hire is by arrangement with Sterling Concessions (Tel: 07050 209249). You can download a map of the park from the website (details below). The Tamsin trail is a brown dotted line which goes around the park. There are several roads to cross in the park so do take care if you have any independent little peddlers! If you fancy a spot of refreshment there’s a café on the west side of the park. Exercise and cake; the perfect combination!
For further information visit Richmond Park’s website www.royalparks.org.uk
, then select Richmond Park; go to ‘sport in the park’ then ‘cycling’.
Cycle Route Two
Greenwich and the Thames Barrier to Erith
Location: East London
Distance: 8 miles each way
Terrain: Flat and paved
OS Landranger Map 177
Transport for London Cycling Guide Map Area 8
This glorious stretch of traffic-free cycling starts at the Thames Barrier and ends at Manorway on the north side of Erith (grid ref on OS map: 510788). The Thames changes dramatically during this stretch, broadening out and stretching into the floodplains as it flows down to the sea. You will find yourself cycling along some spanking new riverside promenades and get a glimpse of the Olympic setting rising from the building sites. But throughout your ride you’ll have the Thames, majestic and fast flowing, with boats to delight your tiny passengers and always something to spark a constant ‘What’s that?’ from the back seat of your bike!
Get hold of a free copy of Transport for London Cycling Guide 8 (see details below to find out how to get hold of these fab maps!) and follow the trail clearly marked in green from the Thames Barrier heading east right by the river.
Cycle Route Three
Little Venice to Horsenden Hill along the Grand Union Canal
Distance: 7 miles each way
Terrain: Canal towpath, watch out for pedestrians! For the towpath code of conduct for cyclists see www.waterscape.com/twotings
OS Explorer Map 173, Landranger 176
Transport for London Cycling Guide Maps Areas 6 and 7
The Grand Union Canal towpath makes for a great traffic-free family ride. You can start this route with a pleasant amble through Little Venice, where the Grand Union Canal meets the Regent’s Canal; one of the hidden treasures of London. However; this section of the towpath is so heavily used by pedestrians that you’re not allowed to cycle. But it’s so lovely that it’s not a great chore to walk your bike for a few minutes to the start of the cycle route! You ride up to Alperton past many reminders of the canal’s industrial
history. Beyond Alperton the route becomes much greener as you approach Horsenden Hill. Look out for the junction of the towpath with Horsenden Hill Lane. Leave the Grand Union Canal here and take a right turn north at Horsenden Hill to bring you to the cycle track which runs parallel to the road. At the end of the lane is the Ballot Box Pub which has a garden and play area, or just turn around and peddle back the way you came along the canal!
The canal towpaths in London were built over 200 years ago and today the network of towpaths provide traffic-free routes across the capital for walkers and cyclists. Along some parts of the waterway network, the popularity of the towpaths can lead to conflict between users of the canal. British Waterways London has created a Towpath code of conduct for all users. Do note that pedestrians have priority over cyclists on the towpath. The ‘TwoTing’ campaign advises cyclists to use a bell, giving Two Tings when approaching pedestrians and to pass pedestrians slowly, giving people plenty of space and always to ride at a sensible speed
All these routes have been adapted from maps which are available (and completely free!) from the Transport for London Local Cycling Guides. There are 14 guides which cover the whole of London and show where you can cycle traffic free or on quiet routes. Call 020 7222 1234 or visit tfl.gov.uk
for more information. The maps are really clear and user friendly, as well as being comprehensive; one will cover your area! So enjoy the mild autumn weather and Happy Cycling!!