This summer, the Beeline team has taken on the challenge of completing all of the rides in Phoebe Trimingham's You had me at velo! article for Time Out London (June 20-26 edition). Each Friday we'll be giving you the lowdown on one of the eight great cycle routes she's suggested.
This week sees Kate rent a Brompton (again!) and cycle from her flat in Acton to Richmond Park. She had a beautiful summer weekday morning to enjoy perhaps the most peaceful place within the M25. She saw plenty of deer and parakeets, and went anticlockwise round the park to get the most downhill out of the undulating outer loop. If she'd gone clockwise she would have (unashamedly) had to get off of her bike and push up one or two hills.
A West Londoner through and through, Kate estimates that she has been to Richmond Park over 100 times in her 25 years, mostly to walk the family dogs. She thought that she knew it inside out but cycling this outer track - rather than along the road - gave her a fresh perspective.
Leg I: Chiswick to Richmond
Peaceful paths for pottering
Kate loves being on the river, and decided to ditch the tube and cycle to Richmond Park along the towpath. Wherever you are coming from, it is possible to arrive in Richmond along the towpath: just get yourself on to the Thames...and follow it. On this early weekday morning the towpath was completely deserted - definitely worth getting out of bed early for! If you're riding at the weekend you may need to get onto the road as you approach Richmond to avoid the huge crowds that congregate around the bridge.
Richmond has got to be one of the loveliest place in London and it's definitely worth making a day of Richmond Park if you have time. Go for a cycle round, grab some lunch at one of the hundreds of pubs and restaurants, and then spend the afternoon on a rented boat. What better way to make the most of these remaining weeks of summer?
Leg II: Richmond Park
Beautiful beasts and very nice views
The Tamsin Trail is a loop around the outside of the park, so you can enter through any of the gates and join it. Kate cycled up Richmond Hill, entered at the Richmond gate, and turned right on to the trail. Her huffing and puffing was quickly rewarded! The trail isn't very well marked but if you look for a gravelly trail along the outer boundary wall you have probably found it.
The first thing you'll pass if you start at Richmond gate is Pembroke Lodge. It's a beautiful Georgian Mansion that is fancy enough to host lots of weddings but that will also serve you a cup of tea on the back terrace if that's what you're after. Stop here (or at the food kiosk outside) and enjoy the views from King Henry's Mound with a cup of liquid energy.
Hop out of the saddle and have a wander around the adjoining gardens too. There are plenty of beautiful flowers to admire but make sure that you keep an eye on your feet too - Kate once saw a snake here!
Continue onwards on the trail and keep and eye out for wildlife. Posters dotted around the park will help you to identify what you see. Kate's favourite animal encounters on this ride were the deer and the green parakeets. If you don't see the parakeets you will definitely hear them! There are all sorts of rumours flying around about how these exotic birds invaded West London but Kate's favourite is that a pair escaped from a film set, went forth and multiplied.
The deer spend most of their time grazing, but at certain times of year you'll probably catch the stags duelling too. One of the deer that Kate spotted looked a little bit like he might be entering a food coma. It must be pretty dreamy to roam around such a beautiful place eating all day.
Keep cycling round and at about the halfway point you'll come across a cafe, next to Roehampton Gate, called Colicci's. This outpost of the ice cream chain has enough delicious treats to put you into a food coma too - and is a big favourite with the cycling community. A couple of the car parks also have periodic bacon butty vans if that is more up your street.
Probably one of the best things about the Tamsin Trail, though, is how quiet it is. Go on a weekday evening, or early at the weekend and you'll have endless paths to yourself (almost).
So there you have it! Cycling solace within the M25 is right here under our noses. A short enough ride for de-stressing before or after work...and if we fancy a longer ride we can go round more than twice or more. What are you waiting for? On yer bike!
If you give the Tamsin Trail a go we'd love to hear how you find it. Please send us your stories at firstname.lastname@example.org, or post your pictures with @ridebeeline.