There are innumerable books written on bike rides in the UK. But for the five million people living in South London there is a secret corridor into winding, empty country lanes, villages and a place that feels far from London.
Dropping down from Crystal Palace to Elmers End and through West Wickham you arrive at Corkscrew Lane, and suddenly its woods, valleys and rolling fields. The Lane takes you right to the top of the majestic North Downs and on a good day you can see 30 miles. You might touch 40 mph on the exhilarating drop to Westerham. Turn left to follow the ancient Pilgrims way as it winds through vineyards on its way to Canterbury, 70 miles away. Then it’s the big cogs to climb the elegantly named Hogtrough Hill (15%), heading north through Cudham and the pretty Downe to Keston. Cutting left down the steep hill by the Norman church takes you past fields and stables until suddenly you arrive back at West Wickham again. The last push up Anerley hill is helped by the thought of the amazing double expresso at Café Paradou on Crystal Palace Parade – the perfect place to nod to the other riders who meet there.
Begin in Crystal Palace, South London
Cafe Paradou: 10 Crystal Palace Parade
London SE19 1UA
+44(0)20 8670 7600
Google map: bit.ly/GSITc8
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