Sunday, May 23, 2010

Richmond Park

With the beautiful weather and sunny skies yesterday, Keenan and I took the opportunity to visit the nearby village of Richmond and Richmond Park. After a quick bite along Northcote Road, we hoped on the overland train from Clapham Junction for a short 8 minute train ride to Richmond Station. 

Located on the bend of the River Thames in southwest London, Richmond is a leafy village of well-heeled Londoners wishing to escape the bustling pace of life in Central London. It is a beautiful neighbourhood with bars and restaurants along the riverfront and a great High Street with upmarket retailers including Ted Baker and Reiss, to name a few. A short walk from the Quadrant takes you directly on the Thames Pathway flanked by willow trees and exquisite riverside mansions on one side and restaurants/pubs on the other and is connected by Richmond Bridge, one of London's oldest bridges dating back to 1777 (this bridge is as old as my native USA!). It's a picturesque part of town so have your cameras ready.

Further along the Thames Pathway, we found ourselves in Peterham Meadow where we came across the Georgian-style St. Peter's Church and graveyard, and then finally to one of many pedestrian gates into this fenced park. When I told friends and colleagues that we were taking a walk around Richmond Park at the weekend, their immediate response was, "You're walking the whole park?" I didn't realise how big Richmond Park is, nearly three times as large as Central Park! It's massive, and perhaps best explored on bikes to cover every square metre of this 955 hectares nature reserve. 

Among the highlights of the park are King's Henry Mound for views of St. Paul's Cathedral on a clear day, Isabella Plantation, Pembroke Lodge, Pen Pond, and Duchess Wood where you can find the Deer Pen of red deer in captivity. We set up a picnic overlooking the pond, reading, and soaking up the sunshine. It was wonderful, and just what we needed after a rather busy work week. 

We also spotted loads of deer on our way back to Richmond Hill. The first sighting was a small herd of four female deers gazing, but walked away from us as we approached them. The second was a huge herd of deer, maybe 30 deers, resting under a big tree. There are some 600 deers scattered across Richmond Park so you're bound to see them at some point during your visit to Richmond Park.

Back along the path to Richmond Hill, you can see the City and even as far as Canary Wharf in the distance. This is also a lovely stretch of the park. On top of Richmond Hill, there are beautiful views of the River Thames and the vast park itself.  Grab a bottle of rose or a refreshing pint of lager from a nearby pub, sit, relax, and enjoy a breath of fresh air and the view on one of many park benches.  Lovely.

If you're looking to get away from the city, but don't want to travel too far, head down to leafy village of Richmond. I promise, you won't feel like you're in London. Even better, if you own a bike, bring it along, you won't regret it. Otherwise rent them along the Riverfront and enjoy your ride through London's largest park, and then reward yourself with a pint at one of many pubs nearby!

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