Cycle safely across London from the North East to the West off busy roads with this route along towpaths and quiet roads. Starting at the Lee Valley Youth Hostel and finishing on the Western outskirts of London in Windsor. Its suitable for all types of bike that can handle british bridlepaths. In this section its largely gravel or paved tow paths and minor roads, but you may need to walk some of it depending on how busy the paths are and recent weather.
The North East to West route is the second section of a coast to coast route from Lowestoft in Suffolk to Lands End in Cornwall, Englands most Easterly and Westerly mainland points, nicknamed #LowLE. It is an adventure bike ride off-road through some of England’s finest places. We rode this section in a day and while I expected to have to grit my teeth, it is a fantastic route with so much to see that you could easily spend 2 days crossing London. More if you want to visit any of the amazing attractions of the city.
I’ll also be adding a North South route which I used on the Avenue Vertes.
I’ve cycled across London a few times now and it has suprised me how easy it is to slip away from the traffic. Don’t be put off its brash reputation there is lots to enjoy, and of course by bike, two wheels are better!
Cheshunt South to The Thames, North to South
This part of the route first follows NCR1 along the River Lee to the Thames. At first there are house boats and rowing clubs and its a relaxed ride that is easy to navigate. If cycling with children beware it can be narrow, particularly under bridges, with a steep unprotected drop into the water. Liesure gives way to industry and after about 10 miles. The route moves away from the water across parkland of Hackney Marshes where there are many cycle routes. GPS is handy to keep to NCR1 and cross Victoria Park with its Chinese Pagoda.
NCR 1 then travels through Mile End Park along the Regents Canal and then suddenly the green ends and you are short hop from London’s banking centre, Canary Wharf on the Isle of Dogs. Again NCR1 can be tricky of follow as the route weaves among the back-streets keeping you away from the traffic. The impressively tall buildings don’t help satnav so expect to be told you’re off the route well after you left it and keep your eyes peeled for the signs! On the southern edge of the Isle of Dogs the Greenwich foot tunnel crosses under the river. Take the lift if its working, but you may have to carry your bikes down the stairs.
Along the Thames in Central London
The tunnel arrives at the Cutty Sark, one of the fastest tea clippers; worth a photo if not a visit! From here the route West joins NCR4. Head along the Thames before cutting through Stave Hill Ecology Park rejoining the river close to the Brunel Museum . There is another short stretch along the river then a cycleway along the busy A200. Here the bustle of the city making keeping an eye on the sat nav tricky, so take your time! Sticking to NCR4, pass London and Southwark Bridges and cross the Thames at Blackfriars bridge. Follow the Embankment all the way to the world’s most famous clock, Big Ben, and the Houses of Parliament.
Central London isn’t for everyone but cycle provision is good and generally well signed. To cycle safely across London the cycle routes have a lot of turnings to keep you away from the traffic & main routes. This can be disorienting and even with satnav it can be easy to get it wrong.
We also crossed London on our way home between Paddington and Liverpool St stations. Hyde Park was closed for an event and we ended up in lanes of traffic on Marble Arch. Maybe because we were so obviously tourists with our dusty bikes and bags that the motorists took pity on us and gave us space and priority. Overall cycling unhurriedly & safely across central London was a positive experience. There are always a few who are too busy to be considerate, but that’s people.
Central London west to Windsor
London is criss-crossed with cycle routes and there are 2 good options to get to Windsor from Central London. Both are good choices depending on how much time you have.
The scenic route rejoins NCR4 at Lambeth bridge and meanders close to the Thames before cutting across stunning Royal Parks. Across Richmond Park first then skirting Hampton Court Park and its famous palace on the Thames. After detour south to avoid the built-up areas around Heathrow airport, NCR4 passes Runnymede with Magna Carta memorials. Shortly NCR4 moves into the magnificant Windsor Great Park where the route swings North to Windsor itself.
The quicker & shorter route crosses Kensington Gardens & follows the Grand Union Canal on Q16 through more industrial areas. Like the Lee Valley you just slip through the city unruffled by traffic on a quiet waterway from another era. The canal itself is a green leisure strip for boats runners and cyclists. It becomes quite wild in parts as it glides under the modern and frenetic M25 and then suddenly, you arrive in the urban bustle of Slough, Windsor’s doudy neighbour.