Martin submitted the winning design for London’s first dedicated cycle route in 1977.

Now, 46 years on, he has worked up a network of recreational rides around the capital. During development the working title was the C25, in reference to the orbital motorway, and still in use in this blog library.

But the C25 is no more: Cycle Orbital is the new title – less auto-centric and more accurate. Revisions continued during the lockdowns, and though access conditions are now eased rail timetables have yet to settle post-pandemic. However the website is fully operational; please visit it by clicking the logo.

The network comprises 12 Arcs, 12 Spokes, and 12 Spin-offs. That’s 890 miles of off-road and quiet cycling through varied landscapes – often beautiful, always interesting.

Please enjoy this blog library from the archive of photos taken on reconnoitre, laid out chronologically below. There is a series of lockdown posts within the capital from 2021, before ‘CyOrb’ rides were resumed later that year.

Contact Martin for further information.
Cycle Orbital’s website has been built by Anthony Cartmell at Fonant.

Summer Spinoff Survey: a new summit loop and a busway added

The 2023 review of Cycle Orbital routes continues. This second survey of spin-offs features two major additions, and together with other changes brings the grand total mileage of the whole network to almost 900 miles of lanes, byways, towpaths, cycleways, old rail track, levees – and now a busway. For hillclimbers, the summit of Leith Hill is belatedly included, too.

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Spring Spinoff Survey: satisfactory, save for pubs, potholes, puddles

I have been checking the state of Cycle Orbital this spring, concentrating on those routes unvisited for a while. A few had not been checked since pre-Covid times, Spinoffs in particular. The conclusion: ride conditions are mostly good or even improved, particularly offroad, but potholes flourish, pubs are closing – and at Redhill, NCN 21 was all but impassable due to a giant puddle. Here’s a review of half the spinoffs. Continue reading

Two steps forward, one back: Elizabeth Line & Thames Clippers added, Virginia Water excised

Autumnal curation of CyOrb has continued, during which one route has been suspended, but a new station link from the southeast terminus of the Elizabeth Line to the Thames at Cross Ness was added. The new line adds tremendous connectivity to the CyOrb network: not only as an rapid east-west link, but also because its central London stations, from Paddington to Stratford and Canary Wharf, are available to non-folding bikes at off-peak times. Then, looking out over the Thames estuary, another innovation started to brew… Continue reading

Cycle Orbital’s post-pandemic health check – and a new link

Curating 800 miles+ of network on my own is impossible, but over the past year as we emerge from the pandemic I have checked out most arcs spokes and spin-offs, and have found conditions generally encouraging. There are examples of improved surfacing on popular routes, and no major alarms. Five great new routes have been added; the featured image is ‘Taking a breather at Toys Hill’, on the new Ide Hill to Oxted Link. Here is a brief round-up:

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Spinoff 4: a Dickensian jaunt to Chatham

Jerv had a significant birthday this week, and his friends were asked to contribute to a video. I was due to ride to Chatham – Dickens’ formative years were there – to see my great-nephew perform in Little Shop of Horrors. Jerv, a consummate actor, is a natural Dickensian – his name even suggests it. So my thoughts turned to Pip and Magwitch, Pickwick, Micawber, Mr Bumble  – and a plot started to unfold… Continue reading

A new Spinoff 1: Hertford to Stansted Mountfitchet

This new Spin-off has the bonus of the discovery of a two mile stretch of private – but available – rail trackbed up the River Ash valley towards Much Hadham. Like the discovery of sections of abandoned road that connect up the network elsewhere, this was an exciting find. Mapping can reveal much, but only reccying can confirm or reject a route. All in all a lovely ride in four contrasting sections – and an important connector towards Cambridge on NCN 11.

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A new Spoke Link for South Bucks: Milton’s Paradise Lost? Not quite…

The countryside south of the Metropolitan Line as it penetrates deep into Buckinghamshire has been rebuffed by Cycle Orbital up to now. Not for want of exploration, but there are two issues that conflict with the network’s aims; suburban sprawl has made the former villages of Amersham-the three Chalfonts-Chorleywood-Gerrards Cross almost contiguous – and the consequential traffic generated on all roads is substantial. Continue reading

Arc 10 Little Missenden: Nature is winning

Squared sos …Riders – and machetes – needed! The section of Cycle Orbital Arc 10 from Penn to Little Missenden encapsulates the best of the network: after a lovely ride up through Penn Bottom and a short walk/cycle through Penn Woods there follows a good mile of abandoned road after Beamond End. Alas, the lack of cycle traffic and recent spectacular hedgerow growth has made a prized segment almost impassable.

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Lockdown 3: South. The commute into the metropolis.

This mini-series of lockdown – personal history rides ends with an extra sixth; south into the West End and City. It’s been by far the most travelled route, taking me for forty years to a series of workplaces; St Paul’s Cathedral and other churches; Barbican and Festival Halls; Her Majesty’s (Phantom), Savoy (HMS Pinafore), Piccadilly (A Little Night Music), National (Sweeney Todd) theatres, and above all the Royal Opera House. Continue reading

Lockdown 3: North. Ham and High (Dollis and Pymmes)

The clockwise or anticlockwise spin round Hampstead Heath is my ‘local’, and at seven miles in its shortest form can be quickly done. But it also climbs to the twin high points of inner London, so it’s a good workout. The highest point, Whitestone Pond 134m, is also where I was born (in Queen Mary’s Maternity Home, just behind my right ear, now a care home), so the family and personal history sub theme of these six blogs is pleasingly maintained. Continue reading

Lockdown 3: Southwest. All routes lead to Richmond Park

In lovely spring weather, with blossom everywhere, I continue to log my favourite suburban rides – and clock up the miles for the cycle fundraising challenge in memory of my mother. The SW destination is always Richmond Park, and the traffic-free stretch (NCN 4) via the Royal Ballet’s White Lodge and Pen Ponds cafe through the centre of the park in particular, but variant routes to get there and back abound. Continue reading