Friday 10 September 2010

Cycling the Thames Down Link, south west London

Starting in Kingston-Upon-Thames, this well-signposted route is really designed for walkers, but much of its 15 miles can be cycled on an off-road bike to transfer from the sedate Thames Path to the challenging bridleways of the North Downs. The first half of the Thames Down Link is  mostly drab and dull. Although it follows the narrow, winding Hogsmill River, the path is often through suburban scrub land awash with nettles and you have to cross the A3 using a grim subway. But the route becomes more appealing when it follows broader paths through the more rural Horton Country Park, followed by Epsom Common and Ashtead Common. After cutting through well-kept Ashtead Park, you have to negotiate an upmarket housing estate and then cross over the M25. From here, the route is a very straight, but undulating, Roman road, making for some fun descents and stiff climbs. After working your way through pleasant deciduous woodland, you emerge near the pretty village of Mickleham, where you can get a much-needed drink in The Running Horses pub. 6/10