London Walk: Richmond Park Walk. Last week I went on a scenic half day walk with Homeboy and my friend Rich. We started at Hampton Wick, wandered through Richmond Park and sauntered along the Thames Path to Kew Bridge. It was a wonderful afternoon and a great way to relax away from the noise of the city. If you’re looking for London walks or free things to do at the weekend in London, you’ll love this Richmond Park Walk.
Walking Route from Hampton Wick to Kew Bridge
Starting Your Richmond Park Walk
We decided to head to Hampton Wick first because it was somewhere different to explore. Hampton Wick is situated by the Thames and is in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames. There are a few pubs and cafes in the vicinity.
Kingston upon Thames
Alternatively, you could start your journey by getting the train to Kingston instead. We walked to Kingston upon Thames and through Canbury Gardens past the Boaters Inn. This pub serves delicious pub grub including rare breed beef burgers and Suffolk chicken breasts, Scottish rope grown mussels and Jacobs Ladder beef rib. The pub overlooks the Thames with alfresco dining so is worth stopping for a bite to eat. We then wandered through some lovely streets with very pretty front gardens towards Kingston Gate to enter Richmond Park.
Richmond Park Walk
Richmond Park was created by Charles I in the 17th century as a deer park. Today, it is a National Nature Reserve, the largest Site of Special Scientific Interest in London and European Special Area of Conservation. It is the largest of London’s eight Royal Parks and you could easily spend a full day wandering around.
The park is home to many ancient trees, particularly Old English Oaks, some of which you will see decaying on the floor which are left as natural housing for beetles. There have been over 1350 species of beetles recorded in the park so keep your eyes open for those! Take a closer look at the trees because many have giant fungi growing on them, the Parasol mushrooms can grow the size of a saucer. If you’re lucky you might see one of the 29 butterfly species fluttering past you.
You’ll notice the grassland as you walk through the park which is Acid Grassland and there are 49 different types of grasses and rushes. You will also spot some wild flowers growing which are pretty but please don’t pick any of those. The terrain is uneven so wear good walking shoes and tuck your trousers in because there are ticks around which cause Lyme Disease.
The main attraction in the park is the deer which roam around freely. You are advised to keep 50 meters away from the deer just in case you find yourself in between two rutting stags! The deer help keep the grasslands nicely trimmed so they are like living lawn mowers. There are about 630 red and fallow deer in the park.
Other attractions in the park include the Isabella Plantation which is an ornamental woodland garden. If you want to get a great view of London head for King Henry’s Mound. You can see views of the Thames Valley and even St Paul’s Cathedral in the distance. Sit by Pens Pond for to ponder your life. At Poet’s Corner in Pembroke Lodge Gardens you will see a bench dedicated to Ian Dury which has ‘Reasons to be Cheerful’ written on it. For refreshments, you can stop off at Pembroke Lodge which is a grade II listed Georgian Mansion. The Lodge is set in 13 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens.
Our walk inside the park took us along the wall towards Ham Gate Avenue, over Queen’s Road, up to Pens Pond, then across to Star and Garter Hill. We exited at Richmond Gates. You can explore the parts of the park you want to but do take your mobile phone so you can find your way out using Google Maps because it is easy to get lost.
After the Richmond Park Walk
After exiting the park, we crossed over to Richmond Road and past Terrace Field to Petersham Road and through Buccleuch Gardens. If at this point you want refreshments and need the toilet you can do a detour to Petersham Nurseries. This is a beautiful garden centre where you can buy plants, browse the shop, dine in the Glasshouse Restaurant or enjoy tea and cake in the Tea House.
There is a little path at the entrance to the nursery so you can walk down there to get back onto your route through Buccleuch Gardens. You can then walk along by the River Thames past the Richmond Canoe Club. There are a few eateries if you want to sit down and rest here instead.
Then it’s pretty much straight on along the Thames Path towards Kew. Much of this path has the Thames on one side and then a stream on the other so it is very scenic and feels as though you are in the countryside. You walk past Richmond Lock, Weir and Footbridge which is a grade II listed structure. Towards the end you walk by Kew Gardens on your right and on the left you will see Syon Park.
When you reach the South Circular Road, you go to street level and find your way to Kew Bridge. Here you can get the train to stations including Vauxhall or Waterloo. I clocked up a total of 29,000 steps that afternoon which was 11.7 miles. My feet ached but I felt less stressed from walking in the park and by the River Thames. I hope you enjoy the walk.
Author: Homegirl London. Photographs: Homegirl London. Thanks to Rich for mapping the route and to Homeboy for joining us on the walk.