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Castle to Palace

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Date: 21st April 

Ride Level: Red - Challenging 

Gravel/CX or Hybrid | GPX Route | Traffic-free | Natural, Gravel and Single Track | 90 km/55 miles | All day 

In association with the London Cycle Workshop and Where My Wheels Go, I'll lead this all-day gravel bike visiting 2 of the most prestigious Royal Palaces.


This is a proper gravel route, loads of flat well-maintained gravel paths and towpaths that lead on a loop from leaving Sheen to head along the Thames Valley to across the playing fields of Eton to Windsor Castle. After a quick break in Windsor, we'll head back through the Great Park and pick up the Thames leading us to Hampton Court past both the Tudor and Baroque facades! 

Ride Description

Heading from the shop we'll make a beeline for the River Towpath, crossing at Kew to join the Grand Union Canal at Brentford, which we'll follow for a few miles before branching off to visit Osterley House. The ride rejoins the canal for another 4 miles before exploring Stockley Park, then, you’ve guessed it, back to the canal, this time for the last farewell. 

After Yiewsley it gets a bit more interesting, as joining the Colne Valley Trail you ride through some rough old scrubland, weaving in and around the M25/M4 interchange before coming into Colnbrook. This seemingly scruffy and forgotten village is a gem, it’s easy to imagine the Ye Old George and Ostrich inns busy with fast coaches rushing to change horses before speeding on down the turnpike to Bristol. The Ostrich Inn founded in 1106 is said to be the third oldest inn in England and has a gruesome history. In the 14th century, the landlord fitted a trap door under the best bed in the place, which was opened in the middle of the night to decant the occupants to their deaths in a cauldron of boiling water below. The restless spirits of the murdered are said to roam, moaning, through the 4-star dining room, anyway, worth a stop here for coffee and a toilet break.  

Back in the modern era, ride into Slough, I promise you it’s the nice bit. The route leads you to the Jubilee River, a modern flood relief river blended so well into the countryside that it is hard to believe it was only cut in 1977. Past the playing fields of Eton and follow the long railway viaduct into Windsor.

Windsor is approximately halfway and the return leg has an altogether more civilised gentile feel to it, Ideal fro lunch break!

Ride past Windsor Castle, through the Old Town and into the highly manicured Great Park. Initially, you are riding on a fab gravel trail, which sadly turns into a tarmac path. Nevertheless, it’s a grand way to explore the Savile Garden, see the famous Smith’s Lawn Polo ground and view the wonderful Virginia Water with its totem pole. The whole park is immaculately kept, woe betide anyone riding off the cycle route, the king will be very cross!

Cross the busy A30, after a mile, the route returns to gravel to cross Thorpe Green and on to Thorpe Village. Turn onto a footpath (we may have to walk here), and look left as you pass the rollercoasters of World of Adventures on your left. The path dumps you aside the M3, there’s a shallow culvert to the right that leads onto a bridleway into Chertsey.

From Chertsey, the route winds its way to Weybridge from where the next 8 miles are uninterrupted gravel to Hampton Court along the Thames towpath.  The front of the palace is the famous muddle of twisted chimneys and decorative brickwork, we'll stop and have a quick look before sneaking around the back to join the glorious Long Water, look back and there's the Baroque Palace in all its glory designed by non-other  than Sir Christopher Wren. (love my history...)

We're on the home straight now, through Kingston, across the park and back to Sheen. 

Julian, from Where My Wheels Go rode this route in the Spring - you can read his write-up here

Start and finish 

Start:

  • The London Cycle Workshop, 42 Sheen Lane SW14 8LP 
  • 8;45 for 9 am rollout 

Finish:

  • The London Cycle Workshop
  • from 4 pm 

The London Cycle Workshop, 42 Sheen Lane SW14 8LP 

Meeting Time:  8:45 for 9 am Start 

Ride Details 
  • Distance: 90 km | 55 miles
  • Climb: 316 m | 1000 ft 
  • Percentage off-road: 62%
  • Trail surface: Natural | Gravel | Cycle Paths | Single Track
  • Technical Grade: Red  - Long-distance gravel route 
  • Mudometer - Easy, Good all-weather gravel paths with few areas of mud
  • Group size 10 rider
Is this ride for me? 

Ideal for riders with some off-road experience and reasonable fitness looking for a long but non-technical day out in the saddle with few hills.

Is my bike OK for this ride? 

The route is best completed on the gravel/CX bike.


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