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?
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?
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
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.