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The 6 Best South East London Cycle Routes

 

South East London is a cyclists dream.

London as a whole offers a wide range of beautiful cycle routes.

But, f you want a family-friendly dawdle, there are many paths in South East London to test out.

And, equally, if you're after a challenge with a worthy finish line - you'll find it here. 

Grab a trusty bike and get cycling along riversides, through parks, and on urban centre cycle paths.

This list has it all! And the very best of each.

Here are our six favourite cycle routes in South East London.

The Waterlink Way

Distance: 8.7 km

Time: 30 mins

Difficulty: easy

This cycle route is short, sweet, and oh so green.
It follows the Pool and Ravensbourne Rivers through green spaces all the way to the Thames.
 
river pool south west london cycle route

This is a great choice if you're nervous about cycling in London.

The road is primarily traffic-free so the quiet roads can act as an opportunity to test your confidence.

The route runs parallel to city life but maintains a tranquillity that feels far removed from the capital.
waterlink way south west london cycle route
The Waterlink Way begins in Lower Sydenham and passes through Catford, Lewisham, and Deptford before terminating at the mouth of the Thames.
 
From there, we encourage you to end your cycle by crossing the swing bridge to visit the Cutty Sark, a world-famous sailing ship dating back to 1869.
 

Beckenham Place Park

Distance: 6.3 km (15 km)

Time: 27 mins (57 mins)

Difficulty: easy (intermediate)

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You may be confused about our categorisation of this ride as both 6.3 and 15 km, and easy and intermediate.

Well, we didn't want to forgo Beckenham Place Park as a beautiful cycle in its own right. However, it can also be treated as an extension of the Waterlink Way route.

Just complete the journey backwards (from the Cutty Sark to Lower Sydenham), then follow Southend lane to Beckenham Place Park.

beckenham place park south west london cycle route

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The park has shared paths for cyclists and pedestrians.

And, when you've travelled all the trails by bike, dismount and wander through the ancient woodlands.

In the summertime, we'd recommend a dip in the lake.

It's Londons oldest purpose-built swimming lake and offers swimming and paddleboarding sessions for all confidence levels. 

And, if you've not had your fill of cycling, the park is home to a BMX and skate park.

Treat it as an opportunity to test whether a career as a stunt double is worth pursuing.

Who knows, you might be a natural?

Trio of Parks

Distance: 8.5 km

Time: 29 mins

Difficulty: easy

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There are so many gorgeous parks to visit in South East London. So, we thought we'd include a short tour of three that practically back onto one another.

The route begins at Brockwell Park.

Here you can admire the lake, cycle around the park's perimeters, and soak in stunning views of London.

Getting those views - That's the tricky part.

brockwell park south west london cycle route

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While we consider this as predominantly an easy route accessible to all, we'd be remiss to ignore the hills at Brockwell.

It's smooth sailing once you're past this, but they are a slight challenge on this ride. 

But, so long as you have a reasonable level of fitness, you should be fine.

After taking in the sights, cycle to Belair Park. Spend your time there enjoying the gardens and admiring the Grade II listed park lodge and entrance gate.

dulwich park south east london cycle route

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Then, visit Dulwich Park. It's an ideal place for a casual cycle without a solid plan. Follow the cycle paths until you spot something that intrigues you.

This could be a pedalo, the playground, or the Dulwich Park Fair if you're there at the right time of year.

There's always something happening. So, we're confident you'll find something that spikes your interest!

Once you've had your fun at the final park on our whistlestop tour, loop around to Brockwell Park to complete the cycle route.

Elephant and Castle to Burgess Park

Distance: 7 km

Time: 40 mins

Difficulty: easy

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Not many areas are named after a pub. So, when they are, it's undoubtedly worth a visit! 

Its unusual name changed from Newington to Elephant and Castle after the inn that sat in the centre of the hub.

The pub remains to this day, and we reckon that's the best place for you to start your bike ride.

The first site you'll come to is Elephant Park. This green space first opened to the public in 2017 and only continues to grow.

elephant park south east london cycle routes

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With new trees, plants, and lawns still being planted, the future is very bright for the park that's committed to sustainability.

After a cycle by Elephant Springs, join cycleway C17 to Burgess Park.

Cycleways are renamed Cycle Superhighways and Quietways.

They have the same aim - to link key parts of communities through cycling while avoiding the challenges of congestion.

Follow the cycleway to Burgess Park, where you can spot local wildlife in the woodlands of one of London's biggest parks.

Crystal Palace Park

Distance: 3.5 km

Time: 50 mins

Difficulty: easy

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Our map does claim a trip around Crystal Palace Park would take 13 minutes.

But, we've rounded the length up significantly to allow for the parks speed limits and for you to take in the views.

This is an ideal bike ride to do with kids. Taking the ride at such as leisurely pace means that there's plenty of opportunities to play spot-the-dinosaur.

No, we're not joking!

crystal palace park dinosaur cycle route

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There are roughly 30 statues of different species of dinosaurs dotted around the park. They might look a bit dated - but that's because they are!

Constructed between 1853 and 1855, they were the worlds first full-scale models of extinct creatures.

They're a fun way for young kids to learn about the dinosaurs while pedalling along on their first bike.

Ladywell Fields to South Norwood Country Park (and back)

Distance: 14.9 km

Time: 1 hour

Difficulty: intermediate

 

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This mighty loop is a great Sunday cycle.

You'll begin the ride at Ladywell fields. The park is comprised of three historic fields, joined by wide paths - perfect for cycling on.

You can then pick up the path to the Ravensbourne River, which you'll follow until joining the Waterlink Way.

ladywell fields cycle route

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On the way to South Norwood Country Park, you'll pass through many green areas - the highlight being Cator Park (especially if kids are around - the playground is favourite).

This ride is an opportunity to step away from the air pollution of the city into a more rural landscape still within London.

south norwood country park cycle route

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The Waterlink Way will take you into and through South Norwood Country Park.

The natural beauty of the land will keep you in awe throughout your trip.

There's are meadows, wetlands, a lake, viewing mounds and more.

It's truly idyllic!

Then, head home along the same scenic roads - all in good time to be back for your Sunday roast.

Cycling in South East London 

The South East of London has so much beauty to behold!

Exploring the area on your bike is the perfect way to cram in as much as possible - without wasting hours walking or trying to find parking.

Plus, it's exercise and good for the planet!

So, our top picks for cycling routes in South East London are:

  • The Waterlink Way
  • Beckenham Place Park
  • Trio of Parks
  • Elephant and Castle to Burgess Park
  • Crystal Palace Park
  • Ladywell Fields to South Norwood Country Park 

Inspired to get out and ride? Explore the city on a Bobbin Bike!

And, if you're looking for more London cycle routes, why not try reading our North London route recommendations?