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Wimbledon Common and beyond

Discover some of south west London's hidden villages.

 

Minimum time 1h30

Distance 7.5 miles (12.1km)

Difficulty Hard

Suggested map  OS Explorer 161 London South

Start/finish  Southside Common, Wimbledon Village; grid ref: TQ 237710

Trails/tracks  mixed; some well-surfaced paths, some rough tracks

Landscape  woodland, parkland and suburban streets

Public toilets  at gates of Richmond Park

Tourist information  Richmond, tel 020 8940 9125

Bike hire  Smith Brothers, 14 Church Road, Wimbledon, tel 020 8946 2270

Recommended pub  Fox & Grapes, Wimbledon Common, SW19

Notes Some rough unsurfaced sections; may be muddy after heavy rain

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© Automobile Association 2008. © Crown Copyright Licence number 100021153

Getting to the start

1 From Southside Common take the short cycle lane north along The Green, which almost immediately turns on to the common, with Rushmere Pond to the left. Soon the gravel path crosses Cannizaro Road before converging at the junction between West Side Common and The Causeway. Turn left here along Camp Road, with the Fox & Grapes pub to your right. At Camp View, take Sunset Road through the gate signed for Thatched Cottage. Close to Springwell Cottage, look for the gate to the left, marked for cyclists. Take this path; this section is unsurfaced and involves bouncing over many exposed tree roots. Much of it is also shared with horse riders, so the path can be churned up.

2 When you reach a bridge over Beverley Brook, remain on the east bank and turn right. Past the playing fields, turn left across the bridge and head for the footbridge over the main road. Use the toucan crossings here to reach the Robin Hood Gate into Richmond Park.

3 Go straight ahead along the park road, then bear right on reaching the car park. There are views across Pen Ponds to your left. Here the path is wide and well surfaced. There is a climb up to White Lodge, home of the Royal Ballet School. To the left there is a great view along Queen's Ride. The path swoops downhill to the T-junction with Sawyer's Hill; turn right here and join the traffic-free cycle path parallel to the road.

4 Leave the park at Roehampton Gate, taking the right-hand fork along Prior Lane and the first right into Danebury Avenue. There is no through route for motor vehicles, but there is a gap between the bollards for cyclists. Continue past the bus terminus and follow the avenue as it curves round to meet Roehampton Lane. Cross over here and go straight ahead along Roehampton High Street. Turn right into Medfield Street and pick up the cycle path on to Putney Heath by the war memorial. Beyond Scio Pond the path comes close to the A306 before passing underneath the A3 via a subway.

5 Beyond the subway take the right-hand fork (Windmill Road). At the green gate turn right for access to the windmill, museum, information centre and tea room.

6 From the windmill go straight ahead through the green gate, but keep a good lookout for the left-hand fork. Take this path, which crosses over two horse rides. Soon the path emerges on to the road at West Place, with its picturesque cottages. Take a right turn into Camp Road for the pub or continue straight on to return to Southside Common along the outward route.

A popular local landmark, the Windmill was built in 1817 to serve local residents who didn't trust the 'factory produced' flour from the large mills on the River Wandle. The mill's working life ended in 1864 when Earl Spencer, the lord of the manor, announced his intention to enclose Wimbledon Common and build a new manor house on the site of the mill. Local opposition led to a six-year legal battle, resolved by the 1871 Wimbledon and Putney Commons Act, which handed over the common to the local community. The mill was then converted into homes for six families. Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Scout movement, lived at the adjacent Mill House for a time and wrote part of Scouting for Boys here. A museum opened in the Windmill in 1975; more recently Lottery funding has enabled the sails to be restored to working order. The museum tells the story of windmills around the world, including early Persian and Greek examples, as well as modern wind farms. An information centre with general information on Wimbledon and Putney Commons is a short distance from the Windmill.

Why do this bike ride?

This circuit links three of south-west London's often under-appreciated green spaces: Wimbledon Common, Putney Heath and Richmond Park. There is a marked contrast between the more natural, rural feel to Wimbledon Common and Richmond's carefully managed royal park.

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