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London’s best spot to longboard

Artwork of a person with sunglasses, holding a longboard in a public park
Image Credit: Briana Brissett and Aluna1

I have been infatuated with longboards since I was 13 and my friend let me ride his for a few minutes after school. The sense of speed you get on one is only matched by a motorcycle, and you don’t need a licence for a longboard.

I use mine in two ways; the first is as a way to get from point A to point B faster than walking. A longboard, while not as fast as a bike, is a lot easier to take places as you can just carry it with you, as opposed to having to lock your bike up or worse, lug it around with you. Second, I use the board as a hobby, skating London’s various trails and parks. My favourite spot to go for that is the Thames Valley Parkway.

Located right on the edge of the Thames River, the parkway begins at Ivey Park, and splits three ways; southeast to Pottersburg Park, southwest to Springbank Park, and north to Kilally Woods. Running at 43km in length, the trail runs through or parallel to multiple other parks, like Ivey Park or the Thames Park. Additionally, the City of London website says over 150km of additional trail are attached to the parkway.

The trail is designed for two-way use, and is wide enough for people to pass each other on each side without even coming close. It’s all smoothly paved, so it’s easy to skate the whole way.

The trail also runs alongside the downtown core, meaning there are plenty of spots to stop and grab a bite to eat or a cold drink on a hot day. My personal favourite spots to stop at include Reset Social Café, Burger Burger, and Presotea. Usually though, I just will pack a lunch so I can sit by the water under one of the many bridges over the Thames so I can eat in the shade and watch the river go by.

Speaking of the river, it’s one of the many reasons I gravitate towards this trail when I’m trying to figure out where to skate around. As the name suggests, the parkway runs alongside the Thames River. Pretty much the entire time you’re on the Thames Valley Parkway, you can see the river from the trail. While I wouldn’t recommend swimming in the Thames, it’s still a lovely river to take a walk by, or in my case, a skate by.

When on the Thames Valley Parkway, you can see why London is called the “Forest City.” The entire trail, save for a few select portions that come closer to some of London’s main roads, is lined with trees. The trees provide a good amount of shade, making the trail nice and cool on a hot day.

“The trail also runs alongside the downtown core, meaning there are plenty of spots to stop and grab a bite to eat or a cold drink on a hot day.”

I only have two problems with the trail, which are more warnings than problems, really. The first is that there are some deceptively steep hills in some sections. I learned that the hard way when I went down a hill that from the top, which looked perfectly normal. But I ended up going incredibly fast down the hill and nearly wiping out. Some may enjoy things like that, but it’s not for me.

Second, geese. There are so many geese on this trail, and they are mean. You haven’t known true fear until you’ve had to run away from angry geese.

If you’re looking for a spot this summer to experience the nature London has to offer, make the Thames Valley Parkway your stop of choice.