MTB/CX/Gravel Bike | Fully Guided | Trails & single track | Hills | 32 miles |4 to 5 hours
A varied, predominantly off-road ride connecting four commons, an 18th Century folly, Neolithic remains, bird hides, WWII history and a Giraffe and Gorilla - this is surprising South London at its best.
Starting at the Rookery Café in the middle of Streatham Common, (Common 1) we’ll head straight out and cross Mitcham Common (Common 2) passing the imaginatively named 7 Islands Pond before striking the first climb over buried World War II rubble.
‘Twitchers look right’ as we pass the hides of London’s newest and least well-known bird sanctuary at Beddington Farm Lands, home of the largest flocks of Tree Sparrows in the South East. The new gravel path leads us to the head of the Wandle at Carshalton where we encounter the remains of an 18th Century pleasure garden. Never fully completed by local landowner Thomas Scawen (a South Sea Island Bubble casualty) we come across the most significant remains, the Grotto Canal leading to the Grotto itself. Now stripped of its original knapped stone finish, it's a forlorn remnant of a once-grand plan, but still important in the history of England’s grottos ... ask any Grotto enthusiast.
Leaving Carshalton, we follow paths through parks and woodland to the chalk downlands of Happy Valley with its Anglo Saxon barrows, Iron Age Field systems and ancient route to Croydon. Skirting Devil’s Den we climb to reach Coulsdon Common (No. 3) with its curious resident Giraffe and Gorilla. And on to Kenley Common – (No. 4) home to the Kenley Aerodrome, surrounded by WWII paraphernalia including air raid shelters, rifle range and a poignant memorial to those who fought in the Battle of Britain.
A thrilling, well-earned descent leads through the woods to the valley floor, across the railway and gently climbs Riddlesdown with its ‘expansive chalk grassland, home to the brightly coloured chalk hill blue butterfly,’ a lepidopterist’s heaven.
Heading back via the haunted Baker Boy Lane, before reaching the ‘Croy-hatten Look Out’ with its splendid views of the Croydon Skyline. Skirting around Crystal Palace Hill, we park hop back to Streatham Common.
The Rookery Café, 37 Streatham Common South, Streatham, London SW16 3BZ
Duration: 4 -4.5 hours.
Distance: 32 miles.
Estimated average speed: 6-8 mph.
Trails: Mostly off-road trails with natural surfaces, small rocks and roots. Several climbs on grass sections
Technical Grade: Red - taken at a sensible pace these rides are a moderately intense physical
Group Size: 10 people.
A refreshment stop mid-way (cost of refreshments is not included in the ride).
Is this ride for me?
Taken at a sensible pace these rides are a moderately intense physical challenge suitable for reasonably fit riders with minimal off-road experience.
The pace of the ride will be adapted to suit the cyclists on the day and the route may change to meet the capabilities of the group as a whole, the leader will make sure that no one is left out or behind!
Is my bike OK for this ride?
The ride is suitable for all off-road bikes, including hybrids with all-terrain tyres.
There will be a basic bike check before each ride to ensure riders' safety, so please make sure your bike is in good condition with working brakes and gears, along with pumped up tyres and an oiled chain.
If in doubt, please get your bike checked over by a competent mechanic or bike shop before the ride. Here is a list of local bike shops we're happy to recommend.
Remember to plan ahead, many bike shops are very busy and service slots are often booked out in advance.
What do I need to bring?
Helmet (wearing helmets is a must on our rides)
Spare inner tube
Snacks and Water
Rain jacket (if required)
Suitably warm/cool clothing for the weather
Sunscreen (as necessary)
What's included in the price?
Guide for the entire ride
Coaching hints and skill tips about 'off road' cycling