A circuit ride: Hammersmith, Fulham, Putney & Barnes

Bike

While other poor folks were office-bound and chained to their desks this afternoon, I was out enjoying myself on two wheels.

I’ve not done much commuting by bicycle lately, so today I thought I’d begin a week’s annual leave by making the most of the balmy autumnal weather. Plus I wanted to blow a few cobwebs away and check I’m in OK shape to tackle the 26-mile ride criss-crossing the five boroughs of New York that I’ll be doing later this week. Yes, I’m heading to Manhattan and am looking forward to experiencing another big city by bicycle.

But today it was all about cycling along London’s tow paths and the back streets of Fulham and Barnes.

Bikeride

This map is a rough approximation of my route, beginning and ending at Hammersmith.

Trees

ChurchIn Bishop’s Park — a long strip of greenery that runs alongside the river between Fulham FC Ground and Putney Bridge — I stopped to photograph a carpet of russet-coloured leaves underneath an avenue of stately London plane trees. I watched numerous dogs frolicking through them, yapping with delight.

A few hundred metres further along and I stopped to take a shot of All Saints Church, which my Other Half tells me was featured in The Omen. I probably wouldn’t have hung around the graveyard so long if I had known that!

Trees_by_river

After crossing the bridge, I saw the park from another perspective. I only took a handful of other pictures after this. I wanted to get on the tow-path proper and do a non-stop ride, so you’ll have to use your imagination when I say I cycled under a leafy tunnel of trees all the way from Putney to Barnes.

It was quite muddy in places but I enjoyed slopping through the puddles. I’d forgotten how great it is to belt along and not have to worry about cars and other motorised traffic, but I did have to watch fallen branches, large stones and deep ruts, so I couldn’t go too fast.

I saw maybe a dozen people during this bit of the ride, including one very irritating couple who stood slap bang in the middle of the path, dogs on either side of them, so that I could not get past. I had to stop my bike and inch my way around them, when it would only have been good manners for one of them to step aside to let me through. Next time I’ll just ring my bell and plough right through them!

On the whole, I had a great ride, and once I got to Barnes I stopped for a short breather. Then I made my way back to Hammersmith via the B350, crossing the lovely Hammersmith Bridge in the process.

Total distance: 8.91 miles | Ride time: 1hr, 11min and 36sec | Average speed: 7.90mph | Top speed: 16.3mph

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3 thoughts on “A circuit ride: Hammersmith, Fulham, Putney & Barnes

  1. I’m enjoying your blog. You and I share similar interests in riding, writing and photography, interests I hope to pursue when I visit London for the first time ever in May. I’m starting to get interested in exploring these canal tow-paths while there. Since I know nothing of London I’m wondering, would it be possible to just head out on a tow-path, along the Thames perhaps, and expect to find reasonable accommodations as needed on the fly? Since I don’t know what to expect, if I try to book accommodations in advance I’ll probably end up over-extending myself and miss all the good stuff. Ideally, I’d like to head out continue on for three or four days then take public transport back. Is this at all feasible and, more importantly, worthwhile?

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  2. You can certainly get out onto the tow path fairly easily, but I’m only familiar with a 12 mile stretch in West London, so am not an expert. The Thames path is actually 184 miles long, but not all of it is open to cyclists. You can find out more here: http://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/ThamesPath/
    Can I suggest you check out the Sustrans website http://www.sustrans.org.uk/sustrans-near-you/london/easy-rides-in-london for some ideas. You can also order maps etc online.
    Note that London has a cycle-hire scheme http://www.tfl.gov.uk/roadusers/cycling/14808.aspx but if you want a “decent” bike you can rent them from the London Bicycle Company fairly cheaply http://www.londonbicycle.com/ (I’ve not hired a bike in London before, but I use the LBC to service my bike.)
    Happy cycling!

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