Skating is a culture. It's about the board you're on, the clothes you wear and the shoes on your feet. But at its core, it's just people who enjoy the thrill and satisfaction of pulling off an ollie down some steps. Here are the best places in London to skate:
When Christopher Wren designed St Paul's, do you think he realised it would later be colonised by trendy kids riding planks of wood with wheels? Possibly. The man was a genius after all.
Skaters rank second in things commonly seen outside the cathedral — tourists are first, pigeons third. It's not really the Cathedral itself that they're skating on though — but bro, could you imagine a grab on top of the spire? — instead, it's all the surroundings that draw them in.
The promenade from the Cathedral to Millennium Bridge (called Sermon's Lane) is always packed out with skaters, trying ollies and kickflips down the steps. There's also a spot in the cathedral's shadow, with a ledge off some steps, that's attracted many a heathen skateboarder.
The most famous skatepark in all of London, probably because of its amazing location. Skateboarders in this park have an enthralled crowd of onlookers, in this compact park nestled beneath the Southbank Centre.
The park's future was uncertain for a time with the Southbank Centre proposing redevelopment for the spot, but after a protracted legal battle the park was saved.
Outside Canada Water is one of the simplest skate spots in London. Our city isn't particularly skateboard friendly thanks to its narrow jagged pavements, which is why skaters flock here. It's the exact opposite, a wide open space with a smooth surface. There really isn't much more to it than that; it's got a few steps for jumps and grinds, but that's about it. A relaxed and no-frills spot where friends spend sunny afternoons.
House of Vans
London's major commercialised skatepark is House of Vans. The brand has always been associated with skateboarding, so this isn't a case of heinous commercialisation. Instead it's a high quality skatepark, but one with a few more rules than you'll get at most parks. You have to book your session in advance, which grates a bit against the traditional freedom skateboarding represents, but it's worth it when you get inside.
Harrow Skatepark is one of London's oldest, a big blob of concrete dating back to the 1970s. The style of the park might have fallen out of fashion, but it's arguably where it all began for skateboarding in London. Recently injected with some money, the park looks revitalised and now has a half pipe which might appease modern skateboarders.
Stockwell Skatepark, affectionately known as the Brixton Bowls or Brixton Beach, is another of London's historic concrete parks dating back to the 1970s. Like Harrow, it's been resurfaced since then, so it's still smooth to ride around today. If you're a BMXer, check out the nearby Brixton Cycles when you're down there.
Unveiled back in 2011, Victoria Park's Skatepark is a relative newcomer to the scene. For the really adventurous skateboarders, here's the place where you'll find one of London's only cradles, if going upside on your board is your kind of thing. On a sunny weekend, the park quickly gets pretty crowded with hip east Londoners, so we recommend visiting this one on weekdays.
The Stratford Centre
Despite the lavish Westfield across the road, Stratford Shopping Centre still goes strong across the street. Furthermore, Stratford has something Westfield doesn't; a skateboarding community. Every evening as shoppers file out, they're replaced by people on skateboards, rollerblades and BMXs.
It might seem a strange location, but the smooth floors and well-lit open spaces make it a no-brainer. Check out what when down when we met a few of the skaters who frequent the shopping centre.
This is agreed to be the best, and most completely preserved, of a small number of purpose-built skateparks to survive from the early years of British skateboarding.
If its status as Historic England approved isn't enough for you, maybe its wonderful Californian inspired concrete pools will be.
This one is pretty small compared to everything else on this list. It's just one small ramp nestled along the Parkland Walk in Crouch Hill. But here at Londonist, we love the Parkland Walk so much that we just had to include it. Plus, there's something beautifully innocent about such a simple place to skate. Consider this the Fisher Price My First Skate Ramp option.
Got any other favourites? Let us know down in the comments.