One of my favorite places to cycle in London is on the river path, between Putney Bridge pretty much all the way to Hampton Court Palace. As you will be away from the normal rush of London while still in London.
A few times the path is a bit rough but any city (hybrid) bike or the like will do. I have even done this bit on my fixed bike with 25mm tyres. For the most of the time you are on hard gravel or even nice tarmac.
For most of the route you will be off the roads and on shared paths, so please do give way to pedestrians. You can do the route which ever direction you want, but I like to end at Hampton Court as they do have a great cafe, chocolate brownies, do I need to say any more? :)
Starting at Putney Bridge, you can join the river and see the rowers getting ready and shortly you will be on the gravel path. This part is rather nice and wide and it takes you all the way to Hammersmith Bridge past London Wet Land Centre.
After Hammersmith it loops around to Barnes and Barnes Bridge, which is a little tricky. You are on a narrow concrete path, which honestly I do not know if you are allowed to cycle on. The main reason for me to question this is that there is a bus stop right night to the bridge on the path. So if you cycle past there and under the bridge do take extra care and give way to pedestrians.
Then there is a narrow bit going past the Ye White Hart pub and the brewery all the way to the Ship. This part is quite often prone to flooding, so it can be muddy and filled with garbage, so do take care. But the Ship is a great place to stop for a quick pint or some food, they have a rather big beer garden.
The next bit is easy to cycle going right past the National Archives and under Kew Bridge. Though the last time I cycled there they were digging up the path to “better” the shore front, hopefully they are finished now. The next bit is rather nice past Kew Gardens and the golf course, nice good surface and wide. Plenty of wildlife to be seen here, if you are lucky.
The part past Richmond will be VERY busy on a good day, so it might be worth walking the next bit or take time to get an ice cream or cup of tea at one of the many pubs and cafes there.
Then you come to a nice long bit where the path is nice and wide and plenty of green stuff to look at. You can even pop in to Ham House and Gardens for a quick look. A couple of places the path can be a little rough if it has rained the days before. But generally this bit is very nice and easy to ride and again you can be lucky to spot some wild life here.
At the Teddington Locks take some time to walk over the bridge it is rather nice. You might see the river steam boat going under the bridge, it has to lower its chimneys to get under. Yes you can continue along the river on that side but further down you will get onto some busier roads, which will ruin your day out. As you come over the bridge you are spoiled for choice as you have two pubs there. One with a massive beer garden with a view over the river, The Anglers and The Tide End Cottage.
You will then be on the road for the first time since Putney Bridge, Broom Road. But don’t worry most of the time there is plenty of space and not much traffic all the way down to Lower Teddington Road. You then arrive the roundabout with A308 and A310, this part can be rather busy and tricky. But there is no shame in getting off your bike and walk the last bit over to Barge Walk, where you can get back on the bike.
This part is the last bit of your ride which takes you on tarmac and hard packed gravel all the way around Hampton Court to the main entrance. Just remember to stop and have a look at the pretty golden gate.
Upon arriving at Hampton Court you have a few options, go in and have a tour of the courts or go straight to the cafe. You can guess where we always go, the cream tea and chocolate brownies are well worth the ride down there.
This is just over 15 miles and can be done in two hours easy, if you just pootle along. If you do it faster (under an hour) then I would say you shouldn’t cycle this route as there is too many pedestrians and dogs to make this route enjoyable at that speed. With few stops along the way this is a great day out on your bicycle in London.
Getting back from Hampton Court, you can either cycle back if you got it in your legs. We normally got back to Teddington Lock and head for Ham Gate in Richmond Park. Either have a nice spin around the park or strait tru’ it. Then out at Roehampton Gate past Barnes Common to Putney Bridge.
Or you can cross over the river and get the train at Hampton Court Station where you can catch a train back into town via Wimbledon station to Waterloo.