1.How long have Companion Cycling been here in Bushy Park?
2.How is it we didn’t know about Companion Cycling before?
3.Who uses Companion Cycling?
4.Who runs Companion Cycling?
5.What do we mean by special needs?
6.Is there any car parking at Companion Cycling?
7.What happens if I’m delayed or need to cancel my visit?
8.What else can we see in the Park?
9.What else happens around the Park?
10.Is there anything like Companion Cycling in my area?

 1. How long have Companion Cycling been here in Bushy Park?

Companion Cycling was launched way back in 1996 by a small committee led by Judy Cobbett, with the support of Richmond Council for Voluntary Service and the Royal Parks. We had two side-by-side cycles, one wheelchair tandem and a limited number of specialised trikes, mostly funded by local charities. Since then the popularity of Companion Cycling has grown enormously and, whereas we initially operated for 9 months of the year, we are now open throughout the year.

The only time we close is for a week at Christmas. We are VERY rarely closed because of the weather.

The organisation became a registered charity in April 2001 since when the fleet of bikes and trikes has expanded at an ever increasing rate enabling Companion Cycling to cater for group visits from special schools, day centres and clubs.
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 2.How is it we didn’t know about Companion Cycling before?

Companion Cycling doesn’t need to advertise! We have long since reached the point where supply can’t always match demand. New users find out about Companion Cycling through word of mouth by personal recommendation from other parents or carers.
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3. Who uses Companion Cycling?

We receive enquiries and welcome visitors from far and wide. Families are delighted by the resources on offer and the direct access to an area of outstanding natural beauty. Individuals enjoy meeting our team and cycling around the Park together. People are often thrilled to find how flexible cycling can be and that they can return to it after illness or injury and discover a new sense of freedom and purpose. Special group sessions offer a popular outing for organisations such as Richmond Mencap, Integrated Neurological Services, Challengers and White Lodge, Chertsey, to name just a few.

Frequently an initial taster visit leads to regular use, as word gets back from a school or group trip to family and friends. First timers are delighted to discover that Companion Cycling functions all the year round, not just in the summer. We keep a rack of waterproofs for occasional use, in case the weather catches our visitors out!
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 4. Who runs Companion Cycling?

The trustees, who form the management committee, are all working volunteers who live nearby. None of the trustees are paid. The trustees and their main roles are as follows:

  • Samantha Baigent – data controller
  • Phil Beer – volunteer recruitment and liaison
  • Helen Carrington – Weekday Lead
  • Judy Cobbett – Charity Commission liaison
  • Ian Barton – various

Further support is provided by our bike maintenance team – as well as our many dedicated volunteer helpers, whose role includes preparing the cycles and accompanying riders around the Park. Their number is close to 70.
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 5. What do we mean by special needs?

We interpret ‘special needs’ quite liberally to include anything that leads to ‘wobbliness’ on a bike, from general frailty to a more profound disability. We aim to get everyone involved, by offering a safe, traffic-free environment and the chance to try out a tricycle or a more specialised machine. Our cycles can be adjusted and accessorised to accommodate all levels of need and everyone from youngsters with multiple disabilities to older riders who wouldn’t dream of venturing out on today’s roads. There is also a stock of unisex solo bikes for accompanying riders, including family and friends. With our range of cycles we are confident that we have something to suit all abilities, and we definitely encourage everyone to give it a try!
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6. Is there any car parking at Companion Cycling?

The Stockyard has a car park for visitors to use. Please call us in advance to arrange your visit at a mutually convenient time.

After entering through the gate off Hampton Court Road, you will need to drive slowly through the yard – keeping within the strict limit of 5mph – past blocks of converted stables and workshops, where you can see our office on the left next to our fenced cycle compound.

The visitor car park lies beyond the White Lodge area, and is clearly signposted ahead and slightly to the left a bit further on. There is usually plenty of space for vehicles, and accessible toilet facilities are conveniently located in the Staff car park.

Two other organisations, the Horse Rangers and the Field Studies Council operate in the Park and have a base within the Stockyard. This is also a working environment during the week, the management hub for Bushy Park, and we ask visitors to drive carefully and respect signs that indicate parking areas for Staff use only.
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 7. What happens if I’m delayed or need to cancel?

If you expect to arrive late or need to cancel at the last minute, it’s always best to give us a ring at the office as promptly as you can. The number is 020 8979 6061 and a message can be left on this line if necessary. We are as flexible as circumstances will allow and always try to avoid disappointments, but please bear in mind that particular cycles may be booked out to a succession of riders during the morning and by arriving late you may miss out on a full-length ride. Our sessions generally end at 13.00, and it is generally unlikely that rides or assistance will be available to you after this time.
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 8. What else can we see in the Park?

The Park is intersected from north to south by a stately roadway called Chestnut Avenue, which is the scene of an annual parade on the second Sunday in May. We use the area on the western side of the Park for cycling.

Within the park there are more car parks, and further attractions including a woodland garden, a café/visitor centre and an 18th century water garden. The eastern side of Chestnut Avenue has more places to explore after your ride, including a lake and a children’s playground which has public conveniences and a car park nearby. There are five Royal Parks Heritage Trails  which explore the fascinating story of Bushy Park. All of these can be accessed by foot from the car parking inside the main Park after your ride.

The Park is bordered to the north by the National Physical Laboratory The NPL was originally housed in Bushy House, a former royal residence, which is clearly visible from our route through the Park.
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 9. What else happens around the Park?

The Park is home to a rich variety of wildlife, notably the roaming herds of fallow and red deer. Deer seem generally unperturbed by our cycles as we glide past them. Visitors are asked to avoid disturbing wildlife and to note that right of way is given to animals and walkers. You may also come across ponies, which are regularly ridden in the Park by the expert young equestrians of the Horse Rangers.

Further information about Bushy Park’s resident wildlife is available through the Friends of Bushy and Home Parks  and the British Deer Society

A number of sports activities including cricket, tennis and bowls are also enjoyed within and near the Park.
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10. Is there anything like Companion Cycling in my area?

There are plenty of specialised cycling opportunities elsewhere in London and much further afield. We don’t have an exhaustive list, but our links page lists the ones we currently know about. We hope you enjoy exploring what is on offer, and let us know how they compare!

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