Here’s a great day on your bike visiting Sir Christopher Wren’s masterpieces in London.
Our ride starts at Hampton Court, a royal palace that is most famous for its Tudor architecture and connections with Henry VIII. Less well known is the baroque palace, designed by our hero, and built for William and Mary in 1689. Err, you’re not going to be able to avoid history on this ride, sorry!
Hampton Court is surrounded by parkland, creating a lovely way to ride to Kingston, en route there’s a stop at the end of the Long Water for one of the best vistas of the palace. Ride on through busy Kingston using the excellent network of bike paths and quiet roads into Richmond Park. Join the Tamsin Trail around the park to Roehampton Gate, before crossing Barnes Common and reaching the Thames again at Putney.
Your first view of Chelsea Hospital, home of the famous red-coated Chelsea Pensioner is from the river and it’s worth a stop before riding along to the ‘front entrance’.
Back on your bike, past Buckingham Palace (nothing to do with Wren) and along Birdcage Walk to join the new bike routes around Westminster Square leading to the traffic-free super cycle route alongside the river.
Taking advantage of the newly pedestrianised Aldwych (which is in my opinion, pretty impressive), ride past St Clement Danes Church, often recognised as one of Wren’s finest City Churches. Carry on down the now peaceful Fleet St to approach the magnificent west façade of St Paul’s Cathedral.
With virtually empty roads and loads to discover, riding through the City of London on a Sunday is a cyclist’s dream and no Wren ride worth its salt would miss the Monument, the fantastic monument topped with blazing gilded ball fire. Although technically marking the site of an inept baker, it’s a homage to our champion!
Leaving the confines of the City, the route becomes more Dickensian, following cycle paths around St Katherine’s Dock, with great views of Tower Bridge and along the cobbled streets of Wapping High St heading east to join the Thames at Canary Wharf.
At the southerly tip of the Isle of Dogs, don’t rush to the Greenwich foot tunnel, rather ride on through Island Gardens for the best view of the Old Royal Naval Hospital with its colonnades framing the Queen’s House.
Then walk through the foot tunnel, and exit right in front of the past Cutty Sark. You may be desperate for that cup of tea, but it’s worth walking your bike along the river for the best views of the Old Royal Naval College and then make your way to the Undercroft Cafe and a well-earned Cream Tea.
After tea take a moment to explore this wonderful building, apart from the colonnades framing Queens House, there’s the Painted Hall, a skittle alley or find the patriotic courtyard!
- 26 miles/42 km
- 760 ft | 230 m climb
- 40% off-road on well-maintained paths
- Easy Ride suitable for all types of bikes
- GPX Route Map
- Cream tea at the Old Royal Naval Hospital
- Brief historical guide of each of the main buildings on the route
- Feed stop with a mechanic