This route is suitable for all riders and visits iconic spots such as Battersea Park, Wandsworth Common, Wimbledon, London Wetland Centre, Holland Park and finishes in Hyde Park.
START: Outside the National Theatre.
FINISH: The Serpentine in Hyde Park.
DISTANCE: 37km (23 miles).
GRADIENTS: 707ft elevation gain.
SUITABLE FOR: People of all ages and abilities, riding any bike.
We follow the Thames Path pretty much from the starting point, behind MI6 and Vauxhall Bridge, to just after Battersea. It’s traffic-free which makes it fun to ride on.
Originally opened in 1858, Battersea Park is a 200-acre green space on the south bank of the River Thames. It features a number of different gardens including the new Winter Garden, the Sub Tropical Garden, the Old English Garden, the Russell Page Garden, the Herb Garden and more. The park is also home to a number of sculptural pieces like Barbara Hepworth’s Single Form, Henry Moore’s Three Standing Figures and Nicola Hicks’ Brown Dog.
As we head away from Battersea toward Clapham Junction, the next port of call is Wandsworth Common, which covers 171 acres and features a number of ponds and a lake. A railway line broadly divides the Common into two strips, west and east; houses on the Wandsworth (SW18) side are in what is known as the ‘Toast Rack’ and are large Victorian semis and detached homes, some with blue plaques marking notable former residents like the former PM David Lloyd George.
Next we head towards Wimbledon, home of the world’s oldest tennis tournament (established at the All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club in 1877), Passing Wimbledon on the right, we then cycle through Wimbledon Common. This consists of three named areas: Wimbledon Common, Putney Heath and Putney Lower Common. As a combined area, it totals 460 hectares. This part of Wimbledon Common provides a nice woodland ride with some gravel, and it’s a little hilly in parts. Due to its size, Wimbledon Common can bean ideal place to see wildlife and birds. And of course, it’s home to the Wombles.
Richmond Park is the perfect stop for a lakeside picnic. Sitting just across the road from Wimbledon Common, Richmond Park dates back to 1637, when King Charles I created a hunting park, introducing around 2,000 deer, and building a brick wall eight miles long to prevent the deer from straying. You can still see this wall today, and the deer continue to shape the way the park looks. It’s the largest of London’s Royal Parks (1,000 hectares), and still has 300 red deer and 350 fallow deer.
LONDON WETLAND CENTRE
From Richmond Park we travel north to the London Wetland Centre. The site of four disused Victorian reservoir stucked into a loop in the Thames, the Centre was opened in 2000. This is where we join up with the Thames Path once again. Spread across 40 hectares, the Centre forms part of the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust which was set up by the artist and naturalist Sir Peter Scott. Many wild birds which have now made their home in the Centre can’t be found anywhere else in London. The Centre was featured on the BBC television programme Seven Natural Wonders in 2005 as one of the wonders of the London area. In 2012, the London Wetland Centre was voted Britain’s Favourite Nature Reserve in the BBC Countryfile Magazine Awards.
After the London Wetland Centre, we cross the Thames via Hammersmith Bridge. Then it’s onward through Hammersmith before visiting Holland Park. Holland Park is the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea’s largest park, weighing in at 22.5 hectares. In it, you’ll find gardens, large areas of woodland and plenty of wildlife. A particular highlight is the Kyoto Garden, a stunning Japanese garden that was donated by the Chamber of Commerce of Kyoto in 1991. It was created by an eminent Japanese designer and his team to celebrate the Japan Festival in London in 1992.
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