Monday, 9 September 2013

*Guest Post* by James Finlayson: 5 Cycling Itineraries in London for the Whole Family

With the increased costs of running a car in Central London, along with congestion on the streets, I am more and more getting on my bike to travel everywhere in London. And the nice thing is that when I arrive home on my two wheels on Friday evening, I don't even want to drag out the car for the weekend. What I found out recently is that cycling around London is also a great family activity (you just need to win the initial fear!). Have a look at these 5 suggestions for a weekend family ride.

Start off around one of the many London parks. Try the centrally located Hyde Park. With 350 acres to explore, you won't be able to see it all in one go. Break the day with lunch at one of the lakeside restaurants, or pack a picnic and pick a spot to stop. Visit some of the monuments in the park, including the Princess Diana memorial fountain, or on a Sunday, head to speakers corner and hear some interesting speakers.

Another quiet route to take is the Waterlink Way. Based in the South East of London, this 7 mile trail follows ancient waterways for much of its path. There are a few short areas of road riding, and a couple of crossings where you must be careful. If you start from Kent House Station, you can bribe the children to keep going with the promise of seeing the Cutty Sark at the other end.

Hidden amongst the hustle and bustle of London is around 100 miles of canals. The canal towpaths are a fantastic place for the family to cycle. Full of wildlife and colourful boats, you will always find something of interest for everyone. The Paddington Arm of the Grand Union Canal can be found in West London. While not a complete green heaven, this section of the canal has vibrant and thriving businesses lining it. Quirky cafes and traditional pubs abound, with canal side seating available for a mid-cycle rest.

For a slightly longer ride try the Thames Cultural Cycling Tour Route. A free download is available at the Visit London website. The 16.8 mile route starts at South Bank then runs to Greenwich, Canary Wharf, Tower Bridge then back to South Bank. The self-guided tour is full of hidden gems waiting for discovery.

Lee Valley runs right from Essex almost to the river Thames. Many miles of cycle tracks are available within its 10,000 acres. Have a look at the Visit Lee Valley website for an extensive list, but right in Central London is their nature reserve Walthamstow Wonders. It’s a simple 2 miles track with grass pathways, bridges, gates and cattle grids.

London is waiting to be explored on bicycles by you and your family. So dust off the bikes and get out in the open air. Find hidden parts of England's capital not accessible by car.

James works for FeatherstoneLeigh. Getting into a career as an estate agent gave him the opportunity to get to know London inside out. The former East Ender now lives in Kew and can’t get enough of long dog walks and cycling Sundays on the South West London green hills.

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