If you fancy a bit of Strada Bianche in west London, then this ride is ideal. Suitable for cyclo-cross bikes in the winter and road bikes with slightly wider tyres can handle the terrain in the spring and summer.
Beginning from Wimbledon Common the route runs to Beverley Brook, then parallel before crossing the water feature and heading into Richmond Park to utilise the well kept ochre coloured off-road paths. Leaving the park at Richmond Gate, keep your eyes peeled for the trail on the left. It will take you off the road onto a fast, slight descent to the river. You'll find the trail after the retirement home and just before a building called Wick House.
At the river you join a cycle path and head north towards Kew. The route is pretty simple along the river with no need to turn off for at least 40 minutes. The path transitions between tarmac, tightly packed gravel and cobbles on your left. You'll have the company of plenty of rowers skimming up and down on the ice cold water.
Upon reaching Hammersmith Bridge, keep an eye out for Harrods Depository buildings that flank the South Bank. Now converted into luxury flats, the building dates from 1914 and used to have its own railway system to transport the Harrods furniture.
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Dark Hill Off Road Ascent
Length: 0.45 miles
Elevation gain: 100 ft
Upon entering the park turn almost immediately left onto the gravel parth marked with blue cycle path signs. The gravel path runs parallel to the road. Continue along for a minute of so. Out of the cover of the trees the path snakes gently and the climb can be seen ahead. The ascent finishes when you draw level with the carpark on the right.
Cafe Stop: Pembroke Lodge Cafe, Richmond Park
Adjacent to Pen Ponds car park
Serves light snack, refreshments and basic coffee