A Cycle Ride Between Two Palaces Past and Present

We chose to visit Chertsey in mid February  to fire up the motorhome and check everything was running , after a long lay up in January.

It also had the added advantage that it is just over half an hour from home and in fact stupidly, this was a reason in the past that we had discounted the site, because of its proximity.

This is an excellent site on the River Thames and is a woodland  oasis in West London, albeit you cannot avoid the inevitable aircraft noise but it is not  imposing  and you can be rewarded by the screech of the parakeets as a natural counterbalance, as they both try to outdo each other in the decibel stakes.

Also look out for the Egyptian geese that wander through the site. These are escapees that have established themselves in the area, along with the parakeets.

The site has a superb, spacious modern sanitation block.

The big plus of the site, to us, however, is its proximity to the riverside cycle rides following cycle route 4 with large sections of the ride hugging the riverbank.

We cycled in both directions over a weekend with  thanks to the site for giving us an extended stay on the Monday. With regard to extended stays, please have the courtesy to ask beforehand, do not just assume that you can stay and make sure you leave by the time you are asked to. Also do not bother asking in peak season or at weekends, as this is can be a busy site.

Chertsey to Hampton Court & Beyond

Primarily riverside paths with limited roads with either cycle lanes or shared pavements

Approx 8 miles to Hampton Court, 11 miles to Kingston & 15 to Richmond Bridge (double for return)

Turn left outside of the site and this is a short section without a cycle path.

You continue to Chertsey Bridge where you have a choice.

You can go straight over the bridge and pick up cycle route 4 on the other side of the bridge, or you can cross the road and follow the cycle route 4 before you cross the bridge and go via Weybridge. The advantage of taking this route is that you are on the ‘right’ side of the river but the disadvantage is that you follow the busy A3050 for a mile. It is perfectly safe as you are on a shared pavement but it is noisy.

Whichever way you go the beauty of this cycle ride is that it is superbly signposted.

If you cross the bridge we would suggest that you walk across on the pavement, particularly if you have children, as the bridge is narrow and can be busy.

Once across the bridge you have to follow the road for about a mile. The first section to the roundabout is on a designated cycle path on the road and after a short section you reach the roundabout and then you are on a shared pavement.

You turn right, signposted, onto a cul de sac road, to pick up the ferry, to cross the river. Unfortunately when we arrived the ferry was suspended because of the heavy rains in the winter of 2012  and in fact the summer  as well. The river was very high with strong currents,making the crossing dangerous. So it is probably a good idea to check that the ferry is operating.

We therefore had to return to the main road and go into old Shepperton , a very pleasant detour, turning right onto the main A road before crossing the river at Walton Bridge.

You then turn left and follow the towpath and be aware if you tackle this on the weekend it tends to be busy but there is no need to rush.

There are a number of pubs on the riverside,and one of our favourites is ‘The Weir’ near Sunbury lock or you could try the ‘Molesey Cricket Club’ further on for coffee and cakes.

Your first stop is Hampton Court and Bushey Park. You have to cross the river here.

You then continue along the other side of the river, passing the Hampton Court Palace, built originally by Cardinal Wolseley, before arriving at Kingston.

At Kingston, cross the river but stay on the right hand side of the bridge and on the other side of the bridge turn back onto the river path and continue on towards Richmond.

Just outside of Kingston there is a dedicated cycle way parallel to the footpath, though I always find it bizarre that pedestrians totally ignore the distinction.

At Teddington Lock, the extent of the tidal river, you can either explore Richmond Park or continue onto Richmond Bridge.

You return the same way, except that because the ferry was not operating, we returned via Weybridge.

This return route is recommended as it not only adds variety but follows a section of the river which is building free.

At the end of the river follow the road before turning right, through two large pillars, and follow the quiet residential roads until you pick up the main A3050, as previously stated, perfectly safe but noisy.

Then follow the marked cycleway all the way back to the Chertsey Bridge.

Windsor Great Park via Staines

Riverside, quiet roads & 1 mile alongside busy roads - 20 miles

You start your ride by crossing Chertsey Bridge again,  but this time turning left and follow the quiet road, until you reach Laleham and then you go off road.

Though there are no riverside pubs on this route, the Three Horseshoes at Laleham does excellent food.

You continue onto, what is now named ‘Staines upon Thames’ after a distance of 4 miles.

On the way you pass Penton Hook Lock and its associated island, which is a small nature reserve. You will have to leave your bikes though as they are not allowed on the island.

At Staines bridge, you cross the river and follow the road out of town. Here there are cycle paths alongside the road but the OS map shows that it is traffic free. On the way back we took the raised pavement (on your RHS as you go out of Staines). It is not clear whether this is a shared cycleway or not but you can make the choice. As previously mentioned we see little harm done riding on urban pavements where there is no or little pedestrian traffic.

At the end of this road the cycle path takes you off road under the M25, where you pick up an off road cycle path parallel to the A30, noisy but in total the ‘busy road’ section from Staines is only about a mile.

Just before the roundabout you will see a lane on  the opposite side of the dual carriageway, which you need to take.

It may be a good idea to go down to the roundabout and cross here, though there is a central reservation, the traffic is very fast.

Once on the traffic free lane, you climb up Coopers Hill, which is a steady old climb, but you will come down it very quickly on your return journey.

You then follow residential roads into Windsor Great Park. On the way you pass the Airforce Memorial with great views over Runnymede.

The Fox & Hounds is just before the entrance to the Park if you require refreshments.

You cannot take your bike down’ The Long Walk’ to Windsor either pushing or cycling or the Queen will get cross. You have to continue for about a mile before you turn right.

An alternative exploration is before you enter the park, take the road to Saville Gardens and on to Virginia Water.

You return the same way.

TIP Visit Virginia Water in May time, the rhododendrons & azaleas are spectacular.

An alternative exploration is before you enter the park, take the road to Saville Gardens and on to Virginia Water.

You return the same way.

At Chertsey Bridge look out for the statue on the campsite side of the bridge, it can be easily missed . I will not let you know the story but leave it for yourself to discover, but it is absolutely charming.