Sunny weekend? Try out Tibbet’s bike ride

Tibbets Ride photo of green route

You know those kind of bike rides that are in London but you feel like you are out in the countryside? Tibbet’s Ride is the perfect example. You’ll encounter a minimum amount of cars along this mostly off-road route.

It connects Putney Heath, Wimbledon Common and Richmond Park. The route follows the official cycle paths and was named after the final stretch leading back in to the pub.

To ride it you’ll need wider wheel than your typical road bike as the route is mostly a dirt track.

The start/end point is outside the bike-friendly Telegraph Pub, Putney Heath SW15 3TU. There’s lots of free parking if you drive over and it’s a great spot for a bite to eat and a well-earned beer afterwards.

Ride the route with others

I’m pretty sure everyone who reads London Cyclist is always keen to meet fellow cyclists so I recommend taking part in this route with the Putney Village Cycling Club. They are a very welcoming to new riders.

The weekly sessions depart at 12pm on Sundays. With full details on their website.

Newer riders can halve their total distance by turning back at Robin Hood Gate. Experienced riders complete two laps of Richmond Park in opposing directions. The anti-clockwise option is described below.

What is there to see along the cycle route?

Tibbets ride London cycle route

There’s plenty to see along the route, much of which will come as a surprise to people who think of London as an urban environment. The first stretch passes a variety of Arts and Crafts and Art Deco residences, then you’ll see the first of several ponds before arriving at the Windmill. The mixture of trees, plants and flowers means that the route appears to change slightly every week. This is most evident along Robin Hood Ride, which is barren in winter then overgrown in the spring. Once inside Richmond park, the trail opens out. You’ll see rabbits, deer, squirrels, birds and sometimes even bats.

It’s a good idea to have a bell on your bike and also to note that there’s a lot of rental bikes about. Whilst you are advised to keep to the left of the trail, it’s not uncommon for tourists to veer to the right at the very last minute! Locals call out ‘Fenton’ to engage with pedestrians.

Is it a tough bike ride?

View along the tibbets ride

It’s a pleasure to ride at any pace and even the most inexperienced riders can manage it. There are a few slopes to tackle along the way, however the majority of the route is pretty flat. As the start/finish is at the top of one hill and the halfway point is at the top of another, it can take some riders as much as three hours to go the whole way around. Most riders will take about an hour and a half.

London cycle route summary

Cycle route under the trees

1, Start at The Telegraph Pub. Pass the cricket pitch on your right, then turn left down Portsmouth Road. The brief and peaceful road section heads through Putney Village, then the road ends and the track turns left and under the underpass.

2, Keep going south, passing the the Wimbledon Windmill on your right.

3, Follow the main track past the golf course, then to the right and down Robin Hood Ride. There are two tracks, follow the one to the left. About half-way down is ‘the corkscrew’, which is a bit of a squeeze and best slowed down for. At the bottom of the hill turn right at the first bridge. Follow the river then turn left over the second bridge.

4, Cross the main road at Robin Hood Gate to enter Richmond Park. This is roughly a quarter of the main distance, or half if you choose the shorter route.

5, Turn right and follow the Tamsin Trail anti-clockwise around the park. The route is signposted all the way around. The first half is a gentle climb, with a brief section down a hill about a fifth of the way around. Then the climb continues up to the Pembroke Lodge. You can pause here to refill your water bottle, or stop for tea.

6, The trail then rolls down the hill again, with a sharp right turn immediately before the road intersection. The route now follows down the one of steepest portions, towards Ham Gate. Just before the gate, turn left, cross the road and follow the outer wall all the way to the Kingston Gate crossing.

7, At the crossing, follow the route around the carpark and up the short, steep climb. Plenty of riders walk their bikes up here, so hop off if you don’t feel up to it. The trail levels out at the top then proceeds to views of Central London.

8, As you reach the edge of the Broomfield Hill Wood, you’ll be greeted by a magnificent view! As well as the panorama, there’s also a long weaving descent. The trail initially becomes steeper and steeper, then turns sharply right, left, right and left again. At the very steepest point the trail is often eaten away by flood water, so don’t be tempted to carry too much speed into the corner. Once the view opens out again it’s straighter and both visibility and overall grip improve. This section brings you back to the Robin Hood Gate crossing.

9, Cross the road again and you’re back in Wimbledon Common, then follow the same route back. Keep left up Robin Hood Ride to avoid bikes coming down the hill.

10, Once at the Windmill, go straight ahead an onwards through Putney Heath. The Ladies Mile takes you all the way to Tibbet’s Corner. There’s an awkward semi-underground roundabout bike passage, which if you follow the main barrier will take you out to the other side. Here, do a U-turn left and you’ll be guided back through to the pub’s car park.

GPS of the route

To download GPS coordinates of the Tibbet’s bike ride use this link.

More London bike rides

To discover more London bike rides such as this one, we have the London Cycle Routes eBook which contains 35 of the best bike rides in London.

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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.

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9 Responses to Sunny weekend? Try out Tibbet’s bike ride

  1. Kees 19/06/2012 at 10:05 am #

    Sound nice but I can’t go. Going to the Lambeth Bike the Borough instead!
    I’ve just cut and past what on below:

    Hello all, happy Bikeweek 2012.
    The brilliant 18.5 mile Bike the Borough dedicated, signed route – is back

    Simply turn up at one of the hubs, grab a map and a passport, get it stamped and hit the road; remember to get your passport stamped at each hub (or at least two) to be entered into our competition

    Led rides will be leaving each hub every hour on the hour from 11am. The hubs are Archbishop’s Park, Clapham Common, Streatham Common and Brockwell Park. There will be Dr Bikes all day at each of the hubs from 10am-4pm

    There will also be Yoga for Cyclists with Rebecca Bogue at Clapham Common. Rebecca will be doing 2 warm up sessions at 10am and 11am; One to one sessions from 12-2pm; and a taster class at 2pm and a warm down session at 3pm.

    And Brixton Cycles at Brockwell Park from 2-4pm, Featuring the Bike shop challenge, Bike Toss, Billy’s Tri-cycle Sound System and Dr Bike

    If you have any accessibility needs local charity ‘Wheels for Wellbeing’ are on hand to help out with specially adapted bikes to hire and the offer of a bike buddying. Check the box to find out more about disabled access on the registration form at http://www.biketheborough.co.uk and they will contact you to discuss your options with you.

    You can join the ride at a couple of points along the way if you don’t want to do the whole distance.

    We are also running a free history ride around the edge of Lambeth called Biking the Bounds, a 22 mile ride led by Lambeth Archivists Jon Newman. You don’t have to do the whole route and you can join at these times and locations. Email cycling@lambeth.gov.uk to register or you can just turn up.

    10.15 Meet at Bernie Spain Gardens, SE1 by Barge House Street

    11.15 – 11.30 Ruskin Park, SE5 at Denmark Hill gate (5 miles)

    1.00 – 13.15 Streatham Vale Park, SW16 at Lonesome Way gate (13 miles)

    14.30 Finish Brunswick House cafe, Wandsworth Road (22 miles)

    Also a free Bike Week BBQ in Ruskin park this Thursday evening.

  2. VNVObit 19/06/2012 at 10:10 pm #

    Have cycled a variation of this from Kew , along the Thames path to Kingston and then across to Richmond Park and onto Wimbledon Common before heading back down to the Thames and back to Kew . It’s a longer circuit but very enjoyable nonetheless (and largely off the road)

    It can be surprising the quiet spaces you can still find in London :-)

  3. Eve 20/06/2012 at 3:40 am #

    Hi, I live around the area (SW15) and love it – loads of green spaces allowing to avoid mixing with the traffic so I cycle quite a bit – it’s great but certainly not flat! It’s rather a workout for the novice cyclist (which shouldn’t put anyone off as it’s really great). How can it be with three delightful hills to get around – Putney Hill, Richmond Hill and Kingston Hill. I was so chuffed when I was finally able to cycle up all of them without hopping off ;)

  4. bob 21/06/2012 at 9:54 pm #

    I live locally and the tamsin trail is much more enjoyable than than all the roadies zooming around Richmond park on the road. Richmond park is much more enjoyable at a slow to medium pace.

    Pembroke lodge is near king Henry’s mound which is one of the “protected London views” you can see St Pauls cathedral from there and there is a viewing platform with a telescope.

    If you are out for the whole day, you can go out of Richmond gate (star and garter gate) to take the Thames path and pay a visit to ham house too a national trust property, which is accessible by the Thames path.The Thames path can be taken back to Kingston for a spot of lunch or even a ride through Bushy park or a visit to Hampton court.

    You can also pay a visit to Teddington locks via the Thames path.

    Tamsin trail is fine for hybrids and mountain bikes but i would not recommend roadies on it.

    Most of Wimbledon common is no cycling, so stick to the route Andreas provided.

    Thanks for promoting my area Andreas !

  5. Goonz 22/06/2012 at 12:31 pm #

    I may be doing a few laps of Richmond Park tomorrow but on my road bike so will be sticking to the road. Anyone know how long one lap of the park is?

    Also interested in the 24hr Dunwich Dynamo if anyone is interested?

    http://southwarkcyclists.org.uk/dunwichfaqs.htm

  6. Goonz 25/06/2012 at 9:38 am #

    Cycled to Richmond from Barking and then did 6 laps of Richmond Park before cycling home on Saturday morning. Glorious weather and I had nearly forgotten how beautiful Richmond Park was!

    There were loads of cyclists already in there and a lot of London Dynamo guys zooming round. Hard to imagine how fast the pros are when even these guys were zooming past me!

    Lots of beautiful bikes on show! Bike heaven!

  7. Adam @ Richmond Hill Hotel 10/07/2012 at 10:04 am #

    Richmond Park is a wonderful setting and makes for a great bike ride, however can be quite bumpy at times as previously noted, it seems very popular anyway for bikers which is always good to see.

  8. Ben Edward 13/07/2012 at 10:06 am #

    Great advice, I’ll definitely give this one a go. You mentioned it isn’t a tough track, though I assume you mean for adults. I go biking with my son quite regularly, you think a 10 year old can handle it? Thanks!

    • Andreas 13/07/2012 at 1:33 pm #

      Hey Ben – yep – should be absolutely fine for a 10 year old. If he gets tired early then can easily turn back. Enjoy!

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