Prompt anyone in the world on their knowledge about the United Kingdom, guaranteed, they would conjure up the most popular sights: Tower Bridge, Parliament, Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace. The tube sign generally rounds out the top five representative symbols.
The thing is, the question is about the UK. Isn't it interesting, then, that only London landmarks make the list?
That's because our capital city is a global city, on par with Berlin, Paris, New York and Beijing. London is a world leader in the finance, artistic and academic realms, so much so that millions, from every corner of the earth, aspire to at least visit - if not relocate there.
For most of the world, London means the whole UK. For the greater UK rollerskating community, that city has features pertinent to their passion that they wish to copy.
What are those features?
Superprof lays out all the best skating venues and outdoor spaces for Londoners to get their skate on.
Learn to Skate at Bay Sixty 6
Let's say you're not one of those Brits who, completely exasperated with having to stay in your flat when you're craving movement, did not dust off your roller skates to climb aboard the small-space skating trend.
Nobody's faulting you for that. After all, there could be many reasons for you not going along. Maybe you're more of a trendsetter, not a trend follower. Or perhaps you're aware your downstairs neighbours wouldn't enjoy the noise; maybe your floors are all carpeted, making it hard for your skates to roll.
Or maybe you don't have any skates. There's no shame in that, either. According to one report, people of all ages are beating a path to their local shop to buy skates. Most of those people didn't know how to skate when they made their purchase; that's the beauty of skating at home: nobody can see you flub or fall down.
And the landings are much softer, too.
If you happen to fall in the last category, meaning you've never so much as had a foot in a roller boot, and you want to discover for yourself what all the fuss is about, you can head down to Bay Sixty 6 on Acklam Road in North Kensington for lessons on how to skate.
Bay offers lessons for beginners of all ages; they also host females only classes and skate sessions and group lessons for skateboarders and roller skaters.
Two caveats: their schedule has been suspended in compliance with current government guidelines (but they're set to resume as soon as restrictions are lifted), and you must be a Bay Sixty 6 member to make use of the facilities or take part in lessons. Membership is free, of course.
For their expansive venue and breadth of amenities, and all of the lessons they offer - from one-on-one to group lessons, the Bay ranks high on skaters' wishlist of places for skating.
What does the Cardiff skating scene have to offer their skaters?
Spend an Evening at Sk8city
Rollerskating purists believe that nothing short of a maple floor will do; a skating rink with any other surface shouldn't even be called a skating rink. There is a small degree of truth to that. Not only is maple a beautiful hardwood but its high gloss catches and reflects the rinks' lighting, which creates amazing effects.
If you too believe that maple or some other hardwood is the only material skating rinks should be made of, you might initially feel disappointed when you first enter Sk8city. Don't worry, it will pass; in no way is this facility lacking and, besides, the vinyl floor makes for a perfectly good rollerskating surface.
Note that, if you prefer to rollerblade, they recommend that your skates have soft wheels, otherwise you won't get quite the grip you will need to skate safely.
And, speaking of rollerblades... You're welcome to bring your own but there are none for rent at the facility. However, they have a large assortment of quad skates for hire so no worries if you don't have your own. They don't have any safety equipment, though, so it would be best to bring yours if you feel you need it.
Sk8city harkens back to a time when skating was a simple affair; when the rink consisted of a largish oval with disco lighting overhead and the obligatory disco ball, too. A time when loft-style cafés and exotic appointments would have been considered the height of frivolity.
People went to the skating rink to skate, after all, not to lounge around, sipping high-priced drinks.
For this skating purist, that's how skating rinks should be: the attraction is the floor (and the music!); the snack bar is incidental to the whole experience. In keeping with that spirit, Sk8city's snack bar menu lists only finger foods - sausage rolls and the like, as well as cold drinks and other snacks.
If you, too, are a skating purist, how about incorporating a few Sk8city sessions into your schedule? And keep an eye out for their roller disco events, held about once a month.
That's about the same schedule as Manchester roller rinks; they too have disco night every three to four weeks.
When the urge to skate is upon you, head to Byron Hall in Harrow and skate to your heart's content.
Skating at Rollerworld
If indeed, you can only bring yourself to skate on a maple floor and you want to full amenities experience, Rollerworld is the rink for you. It is the largest roller rink in the UK, and arguably the most popular.
Besides the dazzling lights, pumping music and monstrous rink (25 x 50 m!), you will find plenty else to entertain you.
If you plan to while away your entire evening there, you will find a full-menu snack bar serving anything from chicken nuggets to hamburgers and an array of cold and hot drinks and, upstairs - away from the kids, a fully licensed bar.
No need to worry about what the kids will get up to while you're enjoying your adult beverage. Besides the rink and snack bar, the facility features mini-bowling, air hockey and pool tables, and seating areas around the rink where they can take a break from all the fun.
The only downside we could find is that their DJ plays only on Friday and Saturday nights. That's hardly a downside though, considering that you can simply plug into your own tunes track and skate to the songs you like the best.
If you have no skates of your own, you may rent either inline or quad skates from them. Or, if you have roller skates but want to try rollerblading, this would be your chance!
Head to Rollerworld in Colchester with or without skates for the best rollerskating in the UK and, who knows? You might even try your hand at LaserQuest - another attraction you can partake of there.
Skating Outdoors in London
There are plenty more indoor skating venues in and around the city, Curvemotion (Bury St Edmunds) and Welwyn Garden City's Roller City among them. And let's not forget Roller Nation, the brainchild of veteran roller rink manager David French.
Whether you've recently fallen back in love with your roller skates or rollerblading is more your thing, these are all great places to get your skate on. But London is a beautiful city - it was voted the greenest city in Europe not too long ago, not for its efficient energy usage but for how lush and verdant it is.
With that in mind, let's head outside to see where the best skating is.
Hyde Park, Regent Park and Kensington Gardens - everybody knows those names. The eight Royal Parks, Wimbledon Common and Epping Forest are also great places with wide paths to enjoy a stroll or even a power walk.
The only trouble with London's many walking paths is their composition: not all of them are smooth. Gravel walking paths would not work for rollerskating so you would have to choose paved trails or, alternatively, you could skate through the cityscape.
Roller skaters in Leeds have the same conundrum: plenty of paths, not all of them paved.
By contrast, most all of London's bike trails are surfaced for skating. This is where we circle back around to Hyde and Regent Parks, both of which have excellent trails to ride and skate on.
And then, there's the 184-mile-long Thames Path. Of course, not all of it is suitable for rollerskating because of its varied terrain but its entire length is hike-able and some portions are bikable - which means they are also skatable.
If you'd rather not interfere with cyclists' pursuits - mixing cyclists and skaters could be dangerous, you could head to a skatepark; these too are plentiful in London:
- Acton (West London)
- Bedfont (West London)
- Thornbury Park (West London)
- Cann Hall (East London)
- Harrow Lodge Park - two skateparks (East London)
- Montrose Park (North London)
Besides these, London has a number of what are considered graveyard skateparks, those that are no longer officially tended and thus, whose safety or quality cannot be guaranteed.
Note that skateparks are generally designed for skateboarders, BMXers and particularly dynamic rollerblading; they are not meant for roller skaters. Still, it might be worth a shot to bring your skates to the skatepark near you to try your wheels on the half-pipe or ramps.
Maybe one day, London's skateparks will be as inclusive as those in London-by-the-sea. Skating in Brighton is an adventure!
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