Despite the fact that we live in a huge and incredibly busy city, it’s not too difficult to get away from it all and almost pretend we’re in the countryside. I’d like to tell you about my favourite bike ride around south-west London that includes Wimbledon Common, Richmond Park and the Thames Path, a ride that really does have a rural feel to it. Imagine the route as a triangle with the points at Wimbledon, Richmond and Kingston; you can start at any of these, though the stations at the last two are nearest the route. There are many variations you can do too, like extending it via Putney.
If we start at Kingston near Kingston Bridge, ride along Kings Passage and Kings Road, a quiet side road that leads from Canbury Gardens by the river right up to the Kingston Gate of Richmond Park. Once inside the park turn right along the cycle path which circles the entire park (Richmond Park Map here). The park is a haven for cyclists, both of the casual and the lycra variety, and is wonderful place to ride around and see nature, including the deer. After descending a steep hill you’ll come to the Robin Hood Gate, where its time to exit the park.
Cross the busy A3 road via the special bike and horse crossing, and follow the path on the other side towards Wimbledon Common keeping the playing fields on your left (see cycle map). Follow the path by the stream (The Beverley Brook) bearing right until you come to a sharp bend where you turn left into the heart of the common. A long steady incline leads you to near the golf course where you bear left again, making your way towards the windmill. The Wimbledon Windmill is a great place to stop for refreshments – the cafe has really good home-made cakes!
Revitalised, you can start making your way back down to the river. Moving north take the left fork shortly after the windmill and cross the A3 via the underpass leading to Putney Heath. A winding path leads to Roehampton, where you need to navigate the traffic lights at Roehampton Lane and turn left into Danebury Avenue, a ‘no through road’ for vehicles which you can freewheel all the way down to the Roehampton Gate of Richmond Park – bliss!
Once inside the park turn right on to the cycle path. A good place to have a break in the park is Pembroke Lodge, with great views from the terrace, but to get back down to the river take Cambrian gate. Here a series of very quiet backstreets with some amazing houses – Marlborough Rd, Onslow Rd etc takes you down to Richmond Bus Station in Wakefield Rd. It’s easiest to cross the busy one way system by a pedestrian crossing and walk through the square down to the river. All that remains is to follow the Thames Path all the way back to Kingston – it’s a picturesque stretch of the river that you’ll really enjoy. If you’re still hungry/thirsty there are lots of cafes and restaurants just under Kingston Bridge at the finish of the ride.
This ride (approx. 11 miles), like the Waterlink Way we wrote about previously, shows us a different side to our city and, in this case, much of it is like being in the middle of the countryside – happy cycling!