Continuing our journey around the capital’s sporting opportunities, alphabetically.
There are a variety of places to sail, particularly along the River Thames such as Putney based Southbank Sailing Club and Ranelagh Sailing Club, Thames Sailing Club in Kingston and Tamesis Club further west in Teddington. Furthermore sailing clubs are not just clustered along the Thames, South Norwood Park and Lake has a year-round sailing club operating on the sizeable lake with mini sailing regattas taking place every weekend. Wimbledon Park Watersports Centre has an even larger fleet of sailing boats and a full selection of reasonably priced courses. Further out to the west of London is the 700 acre Queen Mary Sailing Club with dinghy and windsurfing all year round, and at the opposite side of town is Greenwich Yacht Club which overlooks the O2 Arena.
Scuba diving in the River Thames is certainly not as attractive as flippering through the Red Sea. So instead why not snorkel or scuba dive with sharks at the London Sealife Aquarium. Another option is to head to Waysbury where you can explore various objects underwater such as a boat, VW Camper, taxi and even a hoover! Buckland Lake in Kent is similar, with a sunken airliner the most notable attraction and instructors operating on the reservoir. While visibility at any outside diving venues is doubtful, coral and tropical fish unlikely and warm water improbable, arguably sunken boats and planes more than make up for this. Otherwise you can practice scuba diving in some of London’s swimming pools but you don’t get the thrill (chill) factor.
The recently launched London Shooting Club offers a range of shooting services for all abilities such as beginners shooting sessions, which take place at the West London Shooting School. An example of a central London shooting venue is the Stock Exchange Rifle Club with an indoor, six lane 25m shooting range directly underneath London Bridge. Other suitable shooting facilities can be found at the London and Middlesex Rifle Association and Croydon Rifle and Pistol Club for anyone who considers themselves a sharp marksman.
London skate parks are abundant and usually found in public parks around the capital. A major bonus is that they are almost always free to use. One of the trendiest areas for skateboarding is along the Southbank Centre where there is an iconic, covered, and endangered skate park with a graffiti backdrop. Examples of skate parks elsewhere include Belair Park, Clapham Common, Hilly Fields and Cantelows Gardens. To help find your nearest London skate park, check out aptly named Londonskateparks.co.uk which lists most of the skate parks in London. It has a range of photos displaying the main ramps on offer such as ‘quarters’ and ‘flat banks’, for those familiar with the lingo.
Snooker is a rare example of a sport where you can use the pub as your training ground. Your nutrition regime can include scampi fries and beer, and you can even get better with age. There are many snooker clubs dotted throughout the capital, and Snooker Games offers a useful snooker club finder. The most popular London snooker chains are Hurricane Rooms and Rileys with the former having the largest coverage in London. Rileys has snooker tables in Victoria and Woolwich and Hurricane Rooms has 10 venues across London such as in Tooting, Enfield, Greenford, Kings Cross and Thornton Heath.
With snow appearing to fall more frequently, even in May, there are calls to open a public ski resort in London. In the interim, aspiring Eddie the Eagles should head straight to the Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead which offers an indoor ski slope, jumps and private and group lessons on manufactured snow. Also lying outside London is Bracknell Ski Slope, which has a dry, artificial surface meaning that if you fall over, you will certainly know about it the next day. However, it does have its own chairlift which more than makes up for the pain. Dukes Meadows in Chiswick also has a fascinating indoor ‘Skiplex’, which works like a treadmill for skiers. It can be rented on a half hourly basis and booked online with instructors available should you need lessons.
Having recently applied for inclusion in the 2020 Olympics, Squash England is trying to promote its sport throughout the UK. However, public squash courts are declining, particularly in London where space is at a premium, and they often make way for more profitable uses such as fitness studios. Nevertheless, public courts are still available such as at Balham Leisure Centre, Tooting Leisure Centre and Hammersmith Fitness & Squash Centre. England Squash has a useful court and club finder or you can use OpenPlay. Otherwise squash clubs are your next option and some such as Dulwich Squash Club, Southbank Club and Coolhurst Tennis and Squash Club all represent good value, with social sessions and coaching available too.
Swimming is one of the best all-round exercises. If you are prepared to put in the hours, you could end up with an enviable, triangular shaped physique. Broadly speaking, swimming areas in London can be split into indoor swimming pools, outdoor lidos and pond swimming, two of which are only advisable during the ‘summer’ or unless you are Russian. Notable examples of London’s iconic lidos include Brockwell Park, Tooting Bec Lido, Charlton Lido and London Fields Lido. These are particularly pleasant when London gets sweltering. Good examples of pond swimming can be found at Parliament Hill and the Serpentine in Hyde Park, with the Serpentine open all year round for the brave and foolhardy. Finally, an excellent app to help keep you motivated is Speedofit which helps you find your nearest pool, opening times, and keeps track of your swims.
By Sam Parton
Part A: Aerobics, Aikido, Archery, Athletics, Aussie Rules Football
Part B: Badminton, Baseball, Basketball, Bikram Yoga, Boules, Bowls, Boxing
Part C: Canoeing, Climbing, Cricket, Croquet, Curling, Cycling
Part D: Dance, Darts, Disc Golf, Diving, Dodgeball, Dragon Boat Racing
Part E: Equestrian, English Billiards, Eight-a-side Football, Endurance Running, Extreme Sports
Part F: Fives, Football, Fencing, Frisbee
Part G: Gaelic Football, Golf, Go-Karting, Goalball, Gridiron
Part H: Handball, Hang Gliding, Hatha Yoga, Hiking, Hockey, Hula Hooping and Hurling
Part I: Ice Climbing, Ice Hockey, Indoor Cricket, Indoor Football, Inline Skating, and Iyengar Yoga.
Part J: Jazz Dancing, Jianzi, Jitsu, Jiu Jitsu, Judo, Jogging, Jorkyball
Part K: Karate, Kiyaking, Kickboxing, Kite Surfing, Korfball, Kung Fu
Part L: Lacrosse, Land Yachting, Laser Tag, Lawn Bowling, Lawn Tennis, Lethwei
Part M: Mountain Biking, Muay Thai, Marathon, Mixed Martial Arts, Mixed Hockey
Part N and O: Netball, Nordic skiing, Orienteering, Outdoor Rowing, Outdoor Swimming
Part P: Padel, Paintball, Petanque, Pilates, Pitch and Putt, Power Yoga, Parkour
Part Q and R: Quad rollerskating, Roller Blading, Roller Hockey, Rounders, Rowing, Rugby, Running