Sporting London

london collage
Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships

Unlucky in the draw for tickets to Wimbledon and don’t fancy camping out overnight? Many people with tickets leave the Championships late afternoon and as play goes on until 9:30PM in the first week (weather permitting), it is usually possible to get in to watch play from 5PM without much of a queue. Tickets on the gate for late afternoon play only cost £8 and allow you to wander round all the courts except Centre Court and Number One Court. So 4 hours world class tennis for just £8. Not bad eh!

Skate London, an alternative sightseeing tour
Inline skating or rollerblading is allowed in parts of Hyde Park. On Wednesday nights at 8 PM, down by the Serpentine Lake, a regular group of skaters gather for a weekly cruise around London – the London Skate. It’s a sociable event and a great way to see London. You’ll need your own skates, though they can be hired from branches of Snow and Rock in Kensington and Covent Garden. There are marshals for safety purposes and the skate is free!

Stand and see the beautiful game the traditional way.
Tickets for the all-seater stadiums of London’s Premiership clubs are usually difficult to obtain. If you fancy just turning up to watch a match and also standing on the terraces, then head for one of London’s less fashionable clubs. In East London, check out the Mighty Os of Leyton Orient, while the Bees of Brentford can be found in West London.

Take to the ice
Although the Thames no longer freezes over in London, come winter there are still chances to skate on dry(!) land. Perhaps the most spectacular venue is Somerset House where in December and January, the floodlit eighteenth century courtyard is converted into a giant rink. In the City, Broadgate Circus by Liverpool Street Station has winter skating in the round (020 7505 4068). Popular with City workers, it is also open at the weekends.

Riding around town
There are few major cities as green as London and one of the best ways to explore the parks and commons is on horseback. There are two stables in central London at Hyde Park with qualified instructors and in southwest London in Wimbledon with the Common as the riding grounds.

Two wheels good
Cycling to work is becoming increasingly common in London, but if you like cycling but don’t fancy the roads, you can hire bikes on the south bank at Gabriel’s Wharf to ride along the river bank or for a taste of the country in town, head to Richmond Park to hire a bike

A night at the dogs!One of the classic traditional sporting experiences in London is a night at the dogs. Greyhound racing has been going for years in London and is a fun night out in Walthamstow, Wimbledon or Catford. Admission in Walthamstow is £6 and there are meetings on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. For groups, there is a food and entrance package, and like the horse equivalent there are lots of chances for a flutter on the dog of your choice.

Surfing London
No great waves for surfing but plenty of wind and water for windsurfing. Docklands is the place in London for watersports. At the Docklands Sailing and Watersports Centre, you can sail, windsurf, try dragon boat racing or canoe. The sheltered Millwall Dock is ideal for beginners.

Sporting stadia – the inside track
See behind the scenes of London’s sporting stadia by joining a stadium tour. Rugby followers can see inside the changing rooms at Twickenham as well as visiting the Museum of Rugby, the Lord’s tour includes the famous Long Room as well as the state of the art Media Centre, Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum includes Centre Court as well as dresses worn by such favourites as Anna Kournikova. Most premiership football clubs offer tours of their stadium and Chelsea also have a World of Sport attraction attached to the club.

If an afternoon lying in the sunshine listening to the sound of leather on willow appeals, then there is nearly always a game to be seen at one of London’s two County teams, Middlesex or Surrey. Lord’s, The home of cricket and many major international international matches as well as England’s showpiece domestic finals, is also home to Middlesex County Cricket Club. South of the river, the Oval is home to Surrey County Cricket Club. Tickets for County Championship matches costs as little as £5 at Surrey with under 17s getting in free with an adult.