Is there anything more summery than cycling along the lush greenery of a park, only stopping to sigh at the view or lick an ice cream in the sunshine? Well if there is, I certainly haven’t heard of it! So when Kasha and I were asked by Santander if we wanted to join in with their summer of cycling it was easy decision to make.
If you have never heard of the Santander Cycles, or to the Londoner the Boris Bikes, then you’ll certainly have seen many tourists whizz by on one of them if you’ve ever set foot in the capital. The city-wide cycle sharing scheme is unbelievably simple, and massively cost effective way to get around London. You can hire a bike from one of hundreds of docking stations located all across the city, and the new app will help you pinpoint one near to you, even letting you know how many are available to hire.
We started our adventure on a gloomy Saturday morning, which thankfully gave way to gorgeous sunshine after an initial downpour. Picking up our bikes from South Kensington’s Exhibition Road, we aimed to go on a scenic tour of London’s lush green parks.
First stop was Kensington Gardens and the Albert Memorial, which is located directly opposite the Royal Albert Hall. The ornate memorial commemorates the death of Prince Albert, a fitting tribute from his wife Queen Victoria. You can see the devotion the Queen must have had for her dearly beloved by the sheer opulence of the memorial, which is embellished with gilded bronze statues and 187 carefully crafted figures at its base.
A short cycle further took us to the Serpentine Gallery where the brightly coloured now occupied Serpentine Pavilion caught our eye. The luminescent structure looks like something from the imagination of Roald Dahl, and inside is a surprising residency by Fortnum and Mason, who offer delicious picnic baskets and sweet treats.
A scenic ride onward and we come to Kensington Palace, once home to Queen Victoria and the beloved Princess Diana. Our visit stirred memories of when, as a boy, I had laid flowers at the palace in the days following her death, and the entire grounds in front of the palace were covered with emotional tributes and every kind of flower you can possibly imagine.
The enormous Hyde Park is a short cycle ride away across the sparkling Serpentine River that cuts through the two parks. An essential stop here is the peaceful Rose Garden, which is full of budding flowers, fountains and a stunning ivy covered walkway.
To add to the royal flavour of our tour, Kasha and I decided to cycle further to Buckingham Palace, to take a peep at the Queen’s gaff. Over the weekends the roads are closed off to motorists, leaving a lot of room for pedestrians and cyclists to get that perfect selfie. A fitting end to our day comes when we leave the park, ending up at Wellington Arch, which sits opposite Apsley House, or Number One London – the nickname given to the residence as it was the first house those visiting from the countryside used to pass before the city developed.
I grew up fooling around on a bike with my brothers, so this was always going to be an enjoyable experience. But nonetheless, this day reignited by love of cycling and London’s green spaces, something I feel everyone in London takes for granted. While the sun is still shining, get yourself a bike and see all the spots in the city you’ve always wanted to, after all with prices from just £2 for 24 hours and the first half an hour free, it will probably be the cheapest expense you’ll pay all day.
Looking for adventure in London? Take a peek at my experience at a secret underground concert…