So the leaves are turning, the holidays are over and class is back in session. That doesn’t mean we’re obliged to turn our backs on two-wheeled family outings though! If you’ve spent the summer encouraging your kids onto their bike, that progress shouldn’t stop – and we’re here to help. We’ve put together a few family-friendly routes around London to keep up the momentum. They’re quiet with minimal traffic, ideally suited to anybody new to riding or just anyone looking for a relaxing bimble close to home!
Richmond Park Off-Road Loop (via Barnes Station)
Richmond Park is inescapably part of the cycling landscape in London, but it's not all about lycra and laps. The traffic-free section at the top of the ballet school hill has been the starting point for countless riders, and the Tamsin Trail (a gravel loop around the perimeter) is perfect for a casual spin. No pressure from drivers, tonnes of opportunities to stop and mix things up to keep younger kids entertained – not to mention a few spots to trim a lap down if little legs are getting worn out.
Our pro tip for heading over to Richmond Park with anyone who doesn’t want to ride in traffic is to grab a train over to Barnes Station. There’s a quiet road (which can be walked if you prefer) south to the Upper Richmond Road, a controlled crossing and then a cycle path all the way to Roehampton Gate.
Olympic Park to Epping Forest
For those of an eastwards persuasion, why not head out to another idyllic oasis of green on the outskirts of the city? Starting on the towpath heading north from Hackney Wick you can follow the towpath all the way up the River Lea past canal locks, and reservoirs to get to the forest. Make sure you stop to check out Queen Elizabeth I’s hunting lodge which is now a museum on the edge of Epping forest. Once you have reached the forest and refuelled yourself you can either turn around and come back or if you are feeling done you can jump on a train from Chingford to Liverpool Street.
Earlsfield to Morden Hall Park
Kicking off from Earlsfield Station, you’ll find an almost entirely traffic-free route alongside the River Wandle southwards to Morden Hall Park. This flat trail is littered with spots to take a break and keep an eye out for local wildlife – if your group includes any nature nuts then this is a highly recommended ride. Despite picking its way through some fairly industrial environments, the Wandle is flanked by a sort of buffer-zone of greenery for most of its length. Morden Hall Park is a bit of a local secret, criss-crossed with pathways and bridges, including a wetland boardwalk! As the seasons change so does the habitat: Morden Hall is a solid candidate for repeat visits.
The Cutty Sark to Tower Bridge
This route is best tackled at this time of year – the crowds of tourists have dwindled, but the weather is still pretty reliable. The route winds its way through the historic docksides of South London making good use of NCN4 to keep things either segregated from motor traffic or cutting along traffic-free sections through parks. Pedal-power is the perfect way to travel this route, scrolling through the shifting skyline of London as you head towards the centre of the city. Finishing up at Tower Bridge, you can either continue along NCN4 to London Bridge for travel connections, or walk there via Queen’s Walk on the riverside to keep things traffic-free.