The largest park in London. Richmond Park is a 2,360 acre park within London. It is the largest of the Royal Parks in London and Britain's second largest urban walled park after Sutton Park, Birmingham. The park is famous for its red and fallow deer, which number over six hundred. It is so big, you can't see everything in one day. So we decided to try the route suggested by the Walks in London book by Rough Guides which I recently bought.
The whole walk was about 10km long and took us roughly 3 or 4 hours. This is no manicured city park but a real chunk of pristine green. We started from Richmond tube station then went down to the river. Gorgeous views, plenty of places to eat fish and chips (if you are into that type of food), loads of boats, some of them hosting restaurants and even a puppet theater. People were chilling everywhere, it didn’t feel like London at all.
After about a kilometer, we went through the meadow to Petersham Nurseries (it has a tea room) and the old church with the picturesque cemetery. Before you cross Petersham Road and go deep into the park, it is your last chance to visit the pub as there are none in the park itself.
The park was a royal hunting ground from the 13th century but was enclosed by Charles I in 1637 – he raised the ten-mile brick wall around the land, causing immense controversy. It wasn’t until 1758 that public access to the park was secured by local brewer John Lewis who waged a fierce battle that resulted in his own bankruptcy. After about 2km in, we reached the Isabella Plantation – a huge park in itself. Enclosed in 1831, it is a showcase for acid-loving plants such as rhododendrons, camellias, and azaleas and is also thick with bluebells in May. We passed Peg’s Pond, popular with ducks and dogs but you can swim in it as well, if the weather permits. We took a wrong turn somewhere on our way, so we didn’t reach the Oak Lodge. Perhaps, next time.