The Sparta X2 electric bike. Sleek, economical and fast for reaching the peaks of Richmond Park without the strain. Photo credit: www.justebikes.co.uk.
Kate Marillat wrote this guest post about Exploring London by Bike - Countryside, Castles and Camden. A London-born blogger dedicated to her bike, she writes about green transport solutions.
Cycling through London sucks you into the lifeblood of the city, pulling you along to its rhythmic ebb and flow.
In the winter, it’ll keep you warm at night and reward you with illuminated views of the city as you pedal over Millennium or Tower Bridges. In the summer, cycling keeps you cool and out of the sweaty Tube.
However, cycling through London is not for the faint-hearted. Ensure you’ve got the kit: helmet, lights, gloves and ideally a high visibility jacket. Research the right route and avoid commuter hotspots or difficult junctions.
Whether you are hunting out history, countryside or an urban edge in London, here are 3 Great Routes for Exploring London By Bike:
Finding the Country in the Capital – Richmond Park
Richmond Park is a cyclist’s heaven. It offers idyllic English countryside only 20 minutes train ride from central London. You can hire bikes at the station and then pedal your way into the 2,500 acre park and nature reserve. The Royal Park is home to 650 deer, has a low speed limit and perfect cycling terrain. Alongside the wildlife, there are breathtaking views across London, where on a clear day you can see St. Paul’s Cathedral. Download the map and plan your lunch at Pembroke Lodge which is next to the Isabella Plantation: a stunning enclosed nature reserve within the walls of the park. If you want to keep up with the kids and enjoy cycling without the puff, consider an electric bike to go the full distance.
Cycle to a Castle
It’s only an hour from Richmond to Britain’s Hampton Court Palace, once home to King Henry VIII. Cycle over Richmond Bridge where you’ll join the Thames Path. Along the Thames route, you’ll see swans, sparrows, and plenty of pubs. Pedal past Teddington Lock, and when you reach Kingston Bridge, push the bikes over it and take the path on the other bank. When you reach Hampton Court Palace, that’s an adventure by itself with its symmetrical lawns, maze and gargoyles.
Urban Chic – Camden Lock Down
Camden gives you a market, a lock, a canal, a world famous music venue and a multicultural atmosphere to get lost in – Jamaican jerk chicken, Moroccan couscous, tie-dyed bags, and vintage clothing, records and people. Once you’ve finished pottering in the market, you can hire a bike and cycle towards Regents Park alongside the canal (albeit not in rush hour as you’ll be fighting for a space). This will then take you past London Zoo where you will be able to see some tropical birds and wild boars without paying the admission fee. Cycle over to Little Venice where the canal ends and great restaurants and pubs abound. A central place to start another cycling journey is towards Limehouse in the east or St John’s Wood to the North. If you’re an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad user, try the Cycle Hire App for detailed routes.