Any bike | Fully Guided | Traffic-free | Cycle paths | Mainly flat | 15 miles | 3 to 4 hours
Mitcham Common is a vast, little-known wilderness leading round to London’s longest fully open river, The Wandle. The river rises in a series of ponds in Carshalton and joins the Thames at Wandsworth.
The ride starts on Brixton Hill and follows quiet roads to Mitcham Common past Seven Islands Pond and the fine views of back across London. Crossing the tram tracks we discover the Beddington Farm Bird Sanctuary, once a sewage works, now the first part of a 400-acre urban nature reserve, and home to the largest breeding colony of Tree Sparrows. There are hides along the route and we’ll have plenty of time to stop and do some twitching.
We meet the Wandle proper for the first time at the Carshalton ponds formerly part of the pleasure gardens of Carshalton House complete with a waterfall and ornamental ponds. As we follow the river downstream, evidence of the river’s industrial past is inescapable. The complex network of mill liets, remains of the snuff mills and William Morris’s imposing cloth printing workshops at Merton are intermingled with Georgian buildings nestling strikingly in today’s suburban setting.
One such building is Morden Hall Park, where we follow a magnificent avenue leading up to the house, crossing the Wandle on delicate lattice bridges; and here we’ll stop for refreshments in the Stable Courtyard. Further downstream the river takes on a more work-a-day aspect, park-hopping past the modern factories and warehouses including the former Airfix factory until it reaches the Wandle delta, the site of another massive Thames side development.
Stir Coffee, 111 Brixton Hill, London. SW2 1AA
Duration: 3 - 3.5 hours.
Distance: 15 miles.
Estimated average speed: 5 mph.
Trails: Mostly off-road on hard-packed gravel interspaced with traffic-free cycle paths and quiet roads.
Technical Grade: Easy - no long hills or technical sections.
Relaxed ride with minimal hills suitable for novices or near novices.
Group Size: 10 people.
A refreshment stop mid-way (cost of refreshments is not included in the ride).
Is this ride for me?
This is an approachable ride with few hills or tricky bits. You need to be able to ride at a gentle pace for a few hours.
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 most types of bikes, including hybrids.
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
Rain jacket (if required)
Suitably warm/cool clothing for the weather
Sunscreen (as necessary)
The leader will have supplies of homemade fudge and flapjacks to keep you going during the adventure, however, if you have any food allergies or dietary requirements please bring your own snacks.
What's included in the price?
Guide for the entire ride
Coaching hints and skill tips about 'off road' cycling
Pre-ride bike and helmet safety checks
Fixing mechanical faults/punctures where possible
Charlie's famous homemade fudge and flapjacks to power you along