Although it seems a little intimidating, we loved cycling into London and back over five days one summer.

We put the bikes in the back of the car and drove to Windsor where we would start our adventure. First of all, I had to find somewhere safe to leave our car for a few days, so I studied google maps and found a leafy suburb street that had no restrictions and looked a nice area. We parked the car loaded the panniers onto the bikes and headed for the Thames path which we would follow all the way to Westminster bridge with one or two detours.

We looped off the river almost immediately to go over the Windsor walkway bridge and take a look at Eton School (not that I know anyone or likely to, that went there). School was out for summer so we sneaked into the great walls and had a look around before cycling back over the bridge and down past Windsor Castle and through the Windsor Great park out towards Runnymede which conjured up images of fifth year history when King John signed the Magna Carta 800 years previous.

There was obviously so much to see on this trip and indeed we also took in the RAF memorial on Runnymede Hill where all the fallen RAF combatants names are remembered. My dad was trained as an RAF pilot in Canada in 1941 but was invalided out before he had the chance to join bomber command which, judging by the horrific survival rate saved his life. His injury also brought him to Gobowen Orthopaedic hospital for treatment and eventually employment – hence why the Hardys came to these parts!

Anyway We rejoined the Thames path and headed through Staines, Sunbury and Hampton Court Palace for our overnight accommodation in Kingston upon Thames. The river is so full of life with pleasure craft, gorgeous riverbank homes with lawns stretching down to the river and so many rowing clubs with their trainers cycling along the river bank shouting out on their loud hailers to put more effort in. Not a shortage of riverside pubs either. We ate that night at one such pub on the riverbank in the garden watching the sun set over the river. A wonderful and very interesting day.

Next morning we were up and away past Teddington Locks and Richmond Locks down into the tidal Thames and the hustle and bustle of the big city became more evident as we progressed. We went past Kew Gardens and Fulham FC football ground, down river to Putney where the rowing community is concentrated with all the clubs housing their boats in brightly adorned club houses. A lovely place to soak it all up and enjoy a coffee before we crossed the river at Battersea bridge over to Chelsea and continued on the embankment along wonderful cycle lanes right up to the Houses of Parliament.

Our accommodation was an Airbnb near the Royal Albert Hall in Kensington for two nights. We dropped our stuff off, jumped back on the bikes and went exploring. We spent the next day cycling up to Tower Bridge, Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace through the Hyde Park to Notting Hill and back to Kensington. It was brilliant. You can see so much in one day on a bike. Far better than on the tube or a bus.

We spent two nights in the centre and ate at a local pub frequented by some of the BBC orchestra playing the proms at the Albert Hall who were very friendly and joined us at our table. We woke next morning slightly bleary eyed, as we started our journey back the way we had come, but once in Putney we detoured away from the river to take in Wimbledon Lawn Tennis club which was open to visitors, Wimbledon Common, Richmond Park and stayed the last night near Hampton Court Palace overlooking the deer park.

Next morning back via the ferry at Sunbury before going back to our car in Windsor the next morning. Always a relief that it was still there, no wheel clamps and that I could find my keys.

The route from Windsor to Westminster along the Thames path is approximately 41 miles each way. With detours we probably did well over 100 miles over five days so not too demanding but so much to see. The cycling was mostly traffic free or on marked cycle paths on roads with traffic going quite slowly alongside. So much of our trip was through green commons, meadows or parks. The parks and commons in London are just enormous. Sometimes you could not believe you were within the confines of one of the worlds biggest cities. But then it also gave you a real buzz to bike up Oxford Street, around Buckingham Palace or over Tower Bridge on your bike. It has to be the best way to see London. We loved it!