Author Topic: Where to go for a nice bike ride close to London with kids?  (Read 1872 times)

My youngest has suddenly decided he loves cycling. He's literally asking me mid week where we'll go at the weekend. He's to wobbly for a real road ride, so we've been doing park rides, gradually getting farther afield and covering more distance. I'd like to go somewhere within striking distance of south London by public transport, but mainly off roads. Something like 20 miles with a nice place to stop for lunch and not too hilly. Any recommendations?

telstarbox

  • Loving the lanes
Re: Where to go for a nice bike ride close to London with kids?
« Reply #1 on: June 15, 2018, 09:47:04 am »
Which stations can you easily start from at the London end?
2019 🏅 R1000 and B1000

Re: Where to go for a nice bike ride close to London with kids?
« Reply #2 on: June 15, 2018, 01:10:50 pm »
We feed into the Croydon, London bridge or Clapham Junction side of the river.

Re: Where to go for a nice bike ride close to London with kids?
« Reply #3 on: June 15, 2018, 01:18:26 pm »
Forest Way cycle path (old railway track) from East Grinstead, about ten miles long:
https://www.southeast.bike/trails/sussex/forest-way

telstarbox

  • Loving the lanes
Re: Where to go for a nice bike ride close to London with kids?
« Reply #4 on: June 15, 2018, 01:37:27 pm »
You could take the train to Woolwich Arsenal then ride along the Thames Path to Erith which is flat, well signposted and completely traffic free. Plenty to see although there isn't an easy "escape" point if you decide you've had enough.
2019 🏅 R1000 and B1000

Re: Where to go for a nice bike ride close to London with kids?
« Reply #5 on: June 15, 2018, 02:16:39 pm »
These are great. Thanks. A few more like this would get near summer's worth.
I'd add riding it from Windsor and Eton Riverside as well.

quixoticgeek

  • Mostly Harmless
Re: Where to go for a nice bike ride close to London with kids?
« Reply #6 on: June 16, 2018, 01:31:14 pm »
Train to the south coast, then pick up NCR 2. Fish n chips at the mid point, then either continue on to a station, or head back the way you came. Along the area around Hastings et al, NCR 2 follows the sea front and is all separated from the traffic.

Alternatively the same is true of NCR 15 (or is it 16?) from Whitstable east towards Margate. If you're feeling upto the distance, you can do the 10km from Canterbury to Whitstable on the Crab and Winkle cycle route (disused railway line), then you can turn right and follow the cost via reculver to Margate.

J
--
Beer, bikes, and backpacking
http://b.42q.eu/

Re: Where to go for a nice bike ride close to London with kids?
« Reply #7 on: June 16, 2018, 05:25:48 pm »
How about 20 mile sections of the London to Brighton route? 3 weekends to finish it and a huge sense of accomplishment.

Re: Where to go for a nice bike ride close to London with kids?
« Reply #8 on: June 17, 2018, 12:52:17 pm »
If you catch the first train of the day (06.03) from Waterloo East, it'll get you into Canterbury West just before 08:00. There's a traffic free route which takes you out of Canterbury (with one short steep climb - which I usually walk) via Fordwich, and from then on, on tiny country lanes for ~18 miles, to Sandwich, during which you'll not encounter more than half a dozen cars at that time of day. Once in Sandwich there are plenty of places to grab a bite. Or if you have miles in your legs, turn left and pedal the seven or so on dedicated cycle lanes along the coast, past Pegwell Bay disused hoverport (which is worth visiting as it looks like something not of this earth) one short sharp climb out of Pegwell bay followed by a clifftop and parade ride, and you are in Ramsgate where you can breakfast like kings in Miles Bar (Highly recommended).

Ordinarily, after breakfast at Miles Bar, I would continue traffic free,all the way around the coast to Whitstable, from where I'd return by train - that would take your mileage to around 60 - which might be a bit much - having said which, once you are in Ramsgate there is no shortage of rail-bale opportunities between there and Whitstable.

If you decide to do this, let me know and I'll email you a GPS track - unless you are local, or you know it, you'll be lucky to find the snickets which lead you out of Canterbury traffic-free.

Re: Where to go for a nice bike ride close to London with kids?
« Reply #9 on: June 17, 2018, 07:15:40 pm »
Train to Polegate and ride up the Cuckoo trail and back down across the Pevensey levels.
Train to East Grinstead and ride along Forest Way - there is food available in Forest Row.
Train to Goring by sea and ride along the prom to Shoreham, or keep following the route to Brighton. Shoreham Airport is a fab art deco place with a cafe.
Downslink in either direction there is a country park with a cafe along the route.
Quote from: Kim
^ This woman knows what she's talking about.

Phil W

Re: Where to go for a nice bike ride close to London with kids?
« Reply #10 on: June 17, 2018, 07:36:07 pm »
If you can get north via Moorgate, Kings Cross, or St Pancreas.

Hatfield or St Albans have a paved Greenway starting with 400m of the stations. Hertford has a gravel greenway within a mile of the station.  Another option is the Lee Valley north from near the Olympic Park. But that does involve water next to the tracks.  Or train to Cheshunt station and you can go right directly into the park on tracks away from the canal / rivers and visit the bird hides to see the wildfowl in the lakes. Harpenden has a gravel greenway within 1/2 mile of the station.

Tim Hall

  • I want to eat the fleeting shade of your lashes
Re: Where to go for a nice bike ride close to London with kids?
« Reply #11 on: June 17, 2018, 09:15:52 pm »
Forest Way cycle path (old railway track) from East Grinstead, about ten miles long:
https://www.southeast.bike/trails/sussex/forest-way
Then look at steam engines on the Spa Valley railway before getting a train from Eridge back to That London. You can also get a train down Three Bridges then ride to East Grinstead on the Worth Way (more disused railway), looking at, or riding on, The Blue bell Railway in East Grinstead, train home from East Grinstead or retrace your tracks to Three Bridges.

Get a train from That London to Christ's Hospital and follow the Downs Link to Littlehampton (yet another disused railway) then train home from Littlehampton.
There are two ways you can get exercise out of a bicycle: you can
"overhaul" it, or you can ride it.  (Jerome K Jerome)

SoreTween

  • Most of me survived the Pennine Bridleway.
Re: Where to go for a nice bike ride close to London with kids?
« Reply #12 on: June 19, 2018, 12:47:49 pm »
Downs link already mentioned but I'll add if you train to Guildford you'll want to walk the first km through town but after that it is great.
Train to Guildford then Wey navigation and basingstoke canal to Woking. Just a couple of road crossings each end in that.
Woking then basingstoke canal and thames path back into London.
Woking then basingstoke canal in a Westward direction, return or exit to station.
2020 targets: None
There is only one infinite resource in this universe; human stupidity.

Re: Where to go for a nice bike ride close to London with kids?
« Reply #13 on: June 19, 2018, 01:07:31 pm »
Mention of the Lee Valley leads me to suggest canal rides.  Canals are by their nature flat of course!
Take the East London Line up to Wapping. Have to carry the bikes up the stairs though.
Follow the riverside path along to the Limehouse Basin.
Ride around Limehouse Basin and you have the choice of the Regents Canal or the Limehouse Cut.
Follow the Regents Canal up to Camden Town and take the East London Line back home.
Regents Canal has several options for bailing out and taking the East London back home again.

Limehouse Cut as suggested leads you to the Lea and then on to the Olympic Park.
When finished exploring the Olympic Park then Overground home again, Hackney Wick to Dalston, change for East London.
There may be a better way back from the Olympic Park via public transport.

Re: Where to go for a nice bike ride close to London with kids?
« Reply #14 on: June 19, 2018, 02:00:55 pm »
Limehouse Cut as suggested leads you to the Lea and then on to the Olympic Park.
When finished exploring the Olympic Park then Overground home again, Hackney Wick to Dalston, change for East London.
There may be a better way back from the Olympic Park via public transport.

That would get my vote.  Canals plus Olympic Park would make a great day's cycling.

NB  Don't forget bells if doing canal towpaths.

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Where to go for a nice bike ride close to London with kids?
« Reply #15 on: June 19, 2018, 02:18:29 pm »
NB  Don't forget bells if doing canal towpaths.

Yes, one of the few places where there's a reasonably useful consensus on what they're supposed to mean.
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

Re: Where to go for a nice bike ride close to London with kids?
« Reply #16 on: June 19, 2018, 03:03:16 pm »
Thanks all, I'm going to start compiling these into GPS tracks just so that I can show him the options.

This weekend we opted to go to East Grinsted and try the Forest Trail, it was all going so well until I stopped to take a photo, he looked over his shoulder and rode off the trail and ended up in a bruised and scraped up heap.

No damage to the bike, but a slightly wobbly ride back to East Grinsted for a patch up with antiseptic wipes and plasters outside Boots and then some compensatory chocolate biscuits before an early train home.

No lasting damage and he wants to try again next weekend, but note to self: carry the first aid kit!

The Bluebell railway looks like pretty good value as well, so that's to be added to the list.

Re: Where to go for a nice bike ride close to London with kids?
« Reply #17 on: June 19, 2018, 07:25:29 pm »
Come to Slough   :o  cycleways from the station lead to ncn461 then ncn61 the jubilee river to dorney  where the walled garden center cafe provides sustainence . you can return to Slough by riding through dorney rowing lake and ncn4 to Windsor and nc461 back to Slough. Approx 12 mile's of traffic free cycling   :)
the slower you go the more you see

Re: Where to go for a nice bike ride close to London with kids?
« Reply #18 on: June 24, 2018, 06:38:28 pm »
Today's ride was out to Deen city farm and then along the Wandle trail. It was nice, but the usual Sustrans hunt the cycle track shenanigans didn't help. Anyway, he was faster and more confident in the road and Ken to keep it up, so it's all good so far!

Re: Where to go for a nice bike ride close to London with kids?
« Reply #19 on: January 29, 2020, 05:40:00 pm »
OK, just an update since this seems so long ago now.
Both kids came out cycling with me over much of last summer and my daughter now wants to come out every weekend.

we've explored a lot of the Thames path - particularly Kingston to Richmond, Putney to Kingston, Kingston to Hampton Court.
A lot of canal cycling, starting from Stratford International, or King's Cross. Last weekend was to southern canal loop (Limehouse basin etc.) to close up the route that we'd done late last year, finishing with lunch at View Tube (their all day breakfast burrito for £6 is a massive bargain) and train home from Stratford.

Later this year we're planning a longer ride up the River Lea, having explored it together as far as Tottenham Hale. As well as following the Greenway out to the river and trying out the ferry crossing. The Wandle Trail has been comprehensively explored and we've done lots of rail trails as well.

It's been great. Lots of talking and I honestly think it's brought us together at the time when teenagers tend to distance themselves from their parents.
A new bike has been bought for my son and my daughter has demanded various upgrades for my wife's bike to improve it for her, so it has a new saddle, new handlebars, pedals and handlebar grips (all the contact points basically). We've all now fallen off and been fine with it, a few bruises just builds character and bragging rights!