A common misconception about London is that it’s simply just another city with crowded pavements, high-rise buildings and traffic-jam stricken roads, and yes, it is that, but it is also so much more!
When visiting the countryside community where I grew up, I am often met with the question, “why would you want to live there? There’s so many people, there’s no green spaces!” And while those asking the question are right, they also couldn’t be more wrong!
For me living in London is a necessity for my career, and moving down initially, I thought the exact same thing. However, I soon discovered there is so much more to this amazing city than first meets the eye. In places it’s a hub for wildlife with a mass of open green spaces, beautiful woodland and peaceful wetland!
I have discovered a lot of spaces where I can escape to the country in London, but one of the best and most impressive has to be Richmond Park.
Covering an area of 2,500 acres, even I was surprised to find this gem in the big city, and unsurprisingly it’s the largest of London’s Royal Parks. It’s free roaming deer, lakes and woodland offer a breath of fresh air away from a stressful week of work in the city.
This slice of the country is believed to be one of the oldest parks in London, dating back to the 1200’s in the time of King Edward I, when the area was known as the Manor of Sheen. It later became known under it’s current name, Richmond, during the reign of King Henry VII, and his successor, King Henry VIII, famously used the park as one of his many hunting grounds.
The park is full of free-roaming deer, which were first introduced by Charles I, who in 1625, brought his court to Richmond Palace in order to escape from the plague. While there, he turned the grounds into a park for red and fallow deer, making the decision to enclose the space. I view this decision as an important one because it has meant the park has remained largely unchanged, and continues to command a space of over 2,000 acres almost 400 years later.
On a clear day, Richmond Park offers a fantastic view of London, all the way to St Paul’s Cathedral, 12 miles east. Head to King Henry’s Mound to enjoy the view, and why not drop by Pembroke Lodge after your walk? The restaurant offers views away from central London, over the Thames Valley.
For those looking for a more intimate place to enjoy in the park, there is the Isabella Plantation. This woodland garden was created after World War II, and is an enclosed area to keep the greedy deer out! Despite only being fenced off less than 100 years ago, the 40-acre woodland was planted hundreds of years ago so is steeped in history. In contrast to the wild landscape of the park, Isabella Plantation boasts cute streams, ponds, ducks, flowers, secret pathways and stepping stones. Find a bench by one of the ponds, kick back, relax and enjoy the wildlife.
For more information on the secret garden, click here.
Richmond Park is open daily from 7am until 7.45pm. There is one ring road which offers access to a number of different car parks, which are all free to park in, so there’s no need to worry about the time on the car when you are busy getting lost in the beauty of the park.
For more information, head to Richmond Park’s website.
Thanks for reading – I hope you enjoy exploring Richmond Park!