Roehampton Gate, Richmond Park,
London, Greater London SW15 5JR
Tel : +44(0) 181 878 1795 Fax : +44(0) 181 878 1354 „
Richmond Park is one of the loveliest parks in London - ancient trees with herds of deer roaming in between them, mist hanging over the lakes, picnicking on a hill whilst looking over the whole of London to St Paul's Cathedral - what more could you want?
In the middle of the suburbs, Richmond Park is hidden away by eight miles of ancient brick walls, criss-crossed by small roads and the source of endless pleasure to hundreds of people. I grew up right next to the park, and spent most of my childhood and adolescence there, from sponsored walks, to cycle rides, to romantic picnics; it was one of those places where it always seemed to be summer.
Richmond Park is the largest Royal Park in London and it covers an area of 2,500 acres. Inside the park are herds of red and fallow deer, which roam around freely, generating unreasonable amounts of excitement when they are spotted. I still jump up and down today when I see a herd of deer in the distance!
The Park is designated as a National Nature Reserve, a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Area of Conservation because of the unique nature of the wildlife found there, and the beautiful landscape with its ancient trees, ponds and streams could have been taken straight from a Constable painting.
You can drive across the park and there are six car parks which allow you to get out and walk along the peaceful paths and through the grasslands. Each car park has a refreshment van so that you can buy ice creams and drinks at the end of your walk.
Cycling is by far the best way to enjoy the park if you are only there for a day. The park is huge, and you cannot get to see enough on foot (driving means that you miss so much). The small roads and tracks are ideal for a peaceful cycle ride - you can go off road very easily, down the larger tracks. If you can't bring your own cycle you can hire one from the hire shop by Roehampton Gate.
Horse riding is popular in the park, and the keen rider can book a hack and thunder along the riding track, re-creating hunting scenes of earlier days.
There is a golf course in the park, and fishing is available on Pen Ponds.
The royal connections to this park begin with Edward (1272-1307), when the area was known as the Manor of Sheen. The name was changed to Richmond during Henry VII's reign but it was a visit by King Charles I in 1625 that turned this area of medieval farms and pasture into a royal park. Charles was escaping from an outbreak of plague in London and turned the park into a hunting park, stocking it with 2000 deer. Local people were furious about the King's action and a nice detail to this story is that he had to restore peoples' right to walk in the park as well as the right to climb the wall by a ladder which he had installed so that they could still collect firewood!
If you are the sort of person who likes to have a goal, then cycling or walking to Pembroke Lodge is a great idea. The Lodge is a Georgian Mansion, originally the site of a cottage for the park molecatcher. It became the home of then Prime Minister, Lord John Russell and was later the childhood home of his grandson, Bertrand Russell.
It has 11 acres of landscaped grounds and it is now a restaurant, and a delightful place to stop, rest, eat and drink, whilst looking out across the beautiful views of the Thames Valley. If you are forced to sit indoors, there are tables in front of huge windows which give spectacular views.
Good for a coffee and cake, the Lodge also has the unexpected addition of a memorial bench for Ian Dury. The bench is solar powered and you can plug in your headphones to listen to a selection of his music and his Desert Island Discs interview.
Another favourite destination of mine is Pen Ponds. Parking in Pembroke Lodge car park, it is a gentle walk downhill through grass meadows to these two large lakes. Fishermen sit around the sides of the pond, children paddle and dogs jump in madly. There is another car park on the other side of the lakes which is less of a walk - and there are refreshment vans in this car park.
Pen Ponds is the perfect place for a picnic. Spread your rug by the lake and relax.
~~The Isabella Plantation~~
One of the loveliest parts of the park to visit is the Isabella Plantation, an ormamental woodland garden, fenced off from the rest of the park by metal railings and full of exotic plants. Locals mark the beginning of spring with a Sunday trip to the plantation, where they can stroll along the sandy paths and look in awe at the splendid display of Rhododendron and Azalea.
In the 17th century, this area in the south west corner of Richmond Park was known as The Sleyt (a name usually used for boggy ground or an open space between woods or banks). In 1831, Lord Sidmouth, the park deputy ranger, fenced off 42 acres of the Isabella Slade, planting oak, beech and sweet chestnut trees as a crop for timber and gave the area the name it has today.
The present garden of clearings, ponds and streams was established from the 1950s onwards. The present day garden is very quiet, and very special, with small secret clearings, benches and paths. It has a pond surrounded with lovely shrubs and trees (Peg's Pond), a wild stream that runs through the garden, 50 different species of Rhodendron with 120 hybrids and 15 varieties of Azaleas, and a bog garden.
In spring the display is second to none, and can really take your breath away. Visitors can see camellias, magnolias, as well as daffodils and bluebells. From late April, the azaleas and rhododendrons are in flower. In summer, there are displays of Japanese irises and day lilies. Isabella Plantation can become quite busy at this time, but make the effort, as you will never forget the astounding array of colour.
The Park is a top UK site for ancient trees, particularly oaks, which have great historic and wildlife importance as well as making the park very beautiful. The ordinary visitor will see no trace of the amazing variety of wildlife around them, but the enthusiast can spot endangered species of fungi, nationally scarce invertebrates such as the cardinal click beetle and the stag beetle, 144 species of bird life, including all three native woodpeckers, kestrels, owls and a range of waterfowl.
There is so much more wildlife in this park, but it would be boring to list it all here. If you want to get the definitive list, the website is very informative : www.royalparks.org.uk/parks/richmond_park
Even though I am not a wild life enthusiast, I take enormous pleasure in hearing the huge variety of bird call as I walk through the park, and look out for little scampering noises that indicate small animals in the undergrowth.
One thing I love about the parks around this area is the way that Parakeets have adopted them as a new home. I can remember my astonishment when I first saw a bright green Parakeet sitting up in the trees over 10 years ago - and now they are a regular but still amusing sight.
At the entrance to the grounds of Pembroke Lodge is a memorial to the eighteenth century nature poet James Thompson, who spent the last twelve years of his life in Richmond. The memorial carries a poem by John Heneage Jesse dedicated to Thompson, which begins:
Ye who from London's smoke and turmoil fly
To seek a purer and a brighter sky...
This says it all for me - the Park is an escape from London and by stepping through its gates you step into another world. I know that the world of Richmond Park has hardly changed at all since the days when Kings and Queens charged around on horses, hunting deer and stopping at Pembroke Lodge for refreshment.
It is this sense of history, combined with the natural beauty all around me that makes me love Richmond Park more than any park in London.
The park is very accessible to people with disability issues.
The park is open from 7am in the summer and 7.30 in the winter, and closes at dusk all year round.
Contact: Richmond Park Office, Holly Lodge
T. +44 (0)20 8948 3209
F. +44 (0)20 8332 2730
Richmond Park-The true heaven
I always wanted to go to this place but never got time all throughout last year.Last week I did get an opportunity and really cashed in.
This is the largest royal park in London and a perfect place to enjoy summer.It is hard to beleive that this park is in a bustling city. The park is very spacious and you can really find the beauty and freshness of nature out here.
The park is famous for deers and it also has a huge playground in case you want to plunge into summer sports activity.The park is well maintained and has some landscaped areas as well.You do get cycle hires from 10.00am to 4.00pm Monday to Friday and 9.00am to 6.00pm in weekends.You can get a ride of 2 hours in around £10.With the park opening time from 7 am to 7 pm I really find it convenient enough to explore but beleive me one day is not enough and impossible to cover.
I find car park filling up quite early in summers and creating bit problem if you are a late entrant.I will suggest you to walk to King Henry's Mound which is the highest point in the park and you can see the surrounding beauty.It has huge garden called Isabella plantation .I really made full use of my camera here.The park always has some special events organized to keep the tempo up.In my last visit I saw a painting competition attracting artists of all ages.
I recommend this park to you if you have not visited yet. I can promise that you will be lost in the landscape of hills, gardens and grasslands setting.
A must go and stress buster for busy Londoners....
Richmond Park (020 8876 3205) is actually two courses with one set of facilities. Which one you play appears to be at the whim of the stroppy staff, but at £18 for 18 holes in an expensive area of London they are pretty good value. The courses tend to be very busy, especially at weekends, when waiting can be up to an hour (there is no booking). And bring cash if you want to avoid paying for four rounds on one debit card. The fairways in Summer are fairly short, the greens well kept. Par threes are short, par fours long and straight, and par fives rare. A lack of established trees and a tendency for the fairways to run parallel to each other make it a samey round, but the excellent burger bar by the 5th and 12th holes is a a welcome distraction. Practice on the driving range and chipping green beforehand, reflect on what went wrong in the cafe afterwards. Overall, well worth a visit if you are a Londoner struggling to find reasonably-priced courses nearby.