The most famous cycle routes around London
Updated: Jun 20, 2022
Despite the fact that the capital of England is a busy metropolis, there are a huge number of nature reserves in and around London where you can have a great time riding a bike. While cycling through the districts of the city, you will discover many sights, visit fantastic castles and palaces, admire the picturesque river banks and quiet historical villages.
1. National Bicycle Route No. 20
National Cycle Route 20 is part of the UK cycling network. There is no single London to Brighton cycle route yet, as it consists of several segments. But from year to year, the roads are being repaired, and the route changes, so it’s better to use a real cycling map. It alternates between busy highways, bike paths, quiet side streets and embankments.
Two main lines connect Wandsworth and Carshalton, and Piecombe and Brighton.
The Wandsworth-Carshalton Way is also known as the Wandle Trail. One of Londoners' favorite trails, the beautiful winding path along the River Wendle passes through the parks and green spaces of southwest London. In addition to stunning nature, you will encounter many attractions along the way, such as Merton Abbey Mills, Deen City Farm, the Wandsworth Museum and even works of art created specifically for this route. The blue plaques along the trail report interesting historical facts.
The next section of this route - Piecombe - Brighton - will lead to the cultural center of Brighton. The ancient city, located on the shores of the English Channel, is famous for its pier: it is listed as a historical monument of the II degree. Art is actively developing here, and the atmosphere of bohemian Britain is felt with might and main. Definitely worth taking some time to linger and relax on the beaches of the popular English resort.
And don't forget to check our article about 5 things you need to know about London to Brighton cycle route.
2. London - Metropolitan Ring
London is a metropolis that combines city life and nature. The circular route along the outskirts of the capital passes along the best hiking trails, bike paths and quiet streets. The Capital Ring was created in 2005 as a walking route through London's green spaces and parks. However, driving along this path on two wheels is no less interesting. Numerous recreational areas will tempt you to have a picnic on the grass, and in the summer even go for a swim. Despite being close to urban life, wildlife predominates in nature reserves, wetlands, forests, swamps, and reservoirs.
The cycle route London - Metropolitan Ring is marked with signs, but it is better to use special applications for cyclists so as not to go astray. Basically, the road passes through flat terrain, which gives enough time and effort to explore the sights. Any bike will do for this trip, but be aware that some roads can be muddy after rain. You can use sections of the Capital Ring for day trips around London: for example, we have divided it into three parts.
3. From North Woolwich to Wandsworth
On this stretch you move south from the banks of the Thames to North Woolwich and cross London from east to west. After 28 miles, you will finish in Wandsworth. You will need to cross the Thames, which will require you to either cross the Woolwich Foot Tunnel or take a ferry. Once on the south bank, you will pass through some of London's green spaces such as Marion Wilson and Charlton parks, Woolwich Common and Oxleys Wood. You will then reach the Eltham area of Greenwich. Its history is reflected in beautiful Art Deco and Tudor architecture such as Eltham Palace and Gardens. You will understand why this area was so loved by Henry VIII.
Leaving Eltham, you will continue to explore the back streets of suburban London, heading southwest. Green streets and city roads intersect with stretches of forest paths and wild parks, such as Beckenham Place, where you can even swim in a wild lake in good weather.
The last leg passes through the parklands of Norwood Grove, Streatham Common, Tooting Back Common and Wandsworth Common. With rural areas each with its own charm and open parks, South London is where the rural and urban worlds intersect.
4. From Wandsworth to Preston
This London cycle route runs from south to north. Having overcome it, you will discover many little-known historical sights and natural corners of London. From Wandsworth Common to Preston, through the residential streets through Wimbledon, surrounded by flowering nature, you will drive through the magnificent Richmond Park. It was created back in the 17th century and is the largest of London's royal parks. A real gem in terms of conservation! Beware of deer: they roam freely here, as they have done for centuries.
After admiring the park, go down to the coastal path that winds along the Thames in Richmond. Then you will reach Brentwood, a city on the London suburban strip. Its name (Burned Forest) arose after a clearing was burned in the thicket to make way for the city. Here you can enjoy a flat area next to the Grand Union Canal and the River Brent. Then drive over Horsenden Hill and the historic settlement overlooking Windsor Castle. It's easy to forget that you're in one of the world's largest cities while admiring the waterscapes and wild river nature.
5. From Preston to North Woolwich
This route will take you through peaceful and green natural areas, from the Olympic bike parks in north London to the Hackney marshes. From Preston, you will drive through rolling fields and forests in the Freynet Country Park and continue on to Brent Reservoir. Thanks to the variety of water and marsh birds and plants, you will be surprised more than once by the richness of the nature of our city.
Then, passing Brent Cross, you will join other cyclists on the trail next to the creek, avoiding East Finchley and skirting Highgate Forest. Parkland Walk, a beautiful gravel path through the trees, will take you to Finsbury Park and Woodberry Wetlands, a nature reserve considered a haven for wildlife.
Continue through Crissold Park (founded in the 19th century by philanthropist and merchant Jonathan Hoare) past Stoke Newington Station. A short stretch of West Hackney leads you to Walthamstow Wetlands, an important urban reserve in the Lee Valley that attracts migrating, wintering and nesting birds.
The Walthamstow Wetlands merges with Hackney Marsh, where you drive along a secluded riverside and enter the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, built in Stratford for the 2012 Summer Olympics. The area has undergone significant changes in recent years, but still retains its unique atmosphere. Vegan cafes, galleries and street art are on almost every corner.
Follow the traffic-free Greenway through vibrant cityscapes and then through Beckton District Park. The last section will take you on the road back to the banks of the River Thames.
In this article, we have described 5 popular routes around London. The routes will not be difficult even for beginners and inexperienced cyclists. You can overcome any of these routes on any bike, but we want to draw your attention to the choice of an electric bike, as it will be convenient not only for experienced cyclists, but also for beginners who can independently choose when to ride a bike on a full charge, and when to pedal. Have a look at our GIN X e-bike, which can handle 75+ miles per charge.