Despite enjoying cycling on holiday and discovering disused railways and trails ideal for safe rides, personally, feeling confident cycling around Barnet has been another matter. However, in recent weeks this has changed.
Since the lockdown came into force in late March, spring dramatically burst forth and a particular pleasure was getting out on the bike to enjoy it. Local roads were noticeably quieter and in a brightly coloured top, for the first time in years, I felt confident enough to go cycling from my home. This shouldn’t be a big deal, but, with the kind of reckless, arrogant drivers we sometimes see around here, it is.
Cycling is one of the best ways to appreciate places. You go fast enough to cover plenty of ground, but not so fast that you miss things. It’s also very easy to stop for breaks. Here in Barnet you are only a few minutes from beautiful expanses of countryside, so you really enjoy the best of both worlds.
Our favourite local route and is a circuit starting near Barnet Church skimming Arkley, taking Galley Lane to Trotters Bottom to Bentley Heath, along Waggon Road and back along Camlet Way through Monken Hadley. Dancers Hill Road from Trotters Bottom to Bentley Heath is a slow climb (where you can stop for a water break near Dancers Lane or further along) and Beech Hill and Camlet Way can feel a bit punishing (you’ll know this if you go running there), but you’ll be on the home straight by then and back in Barnet, covering almost 10 miles.
A shorter route is to do this in reverse, leaving Barnet through Hadley Highstone, turning west shortly before the Duke of York pub, picking up Dancers Hill Road towards Trotters Bottom and back along Galley Lane. The top of Galley Lane might be steep, but it’s short and then you turn onto Wood Street return quickly back towards Barnet Church. Obviously, you can join the route at any point, depending on where you live.
For safety and visibility, it’s probably better to cycle in groups or pairs for safety and check here for details of cycling organisations in Barnet, especially Breeze Barnet for women. I have found it friendly out there, with lots of encouraging smiles from other cyclists and only the occasional hoot from impatient boy racers. What matters is that they can see you clearly.
Hopefully, with renewed interest in cycling for environmental, health and fitness and, of course, social distancing, we look forward to safer streets, more dedicated cycle routes and greater provisions for active transport. For more information, check the London Cycle Campaign, Sustrans and Transport for London.