You don’t expect to see deers in freedom a few miles from central London, but it is a reality. At the Richmond park, a National Nature Reserve, 630 Red and Fallow deer roaming freely since 1637.
Just take the tube and in less than half an hour from the center you will be at Richmond Park, a 2500 acre of nature reserve.
London is full of wonderful parks and the Richmond Park is the largest one. It is located in zone 3, easily accessible by District line or overground.
You can spend a day outdoors, close to nature, far from the noise and bustle of the city.
A long-time favorite retreat of the Royal family, Richmond is the south-west borough of London that is considered a quiet and relaxing oasis, far from the hectic life of the center.
In the XVI century, Henry VII built the Richmond Palace, where Elizabeth I died, and the annexed park for hunting (nowadays the Richmond Park). Richmond remained a farming town until the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, when it became a trendy retreat for the English aristocrats.
Once you get out of Richmond station, you are already in the centre of the town full of many shops in the center, and then head to the Thames.
When you see the river, you can take the pedestrian path along the Thames towards west, to reach the park. You can walk along the river where you can find many restaurants and bars facing the river.
Whether it’s a sunny day or you want to deep in the chilly athmosphere, I can suggest to head to the White Cross Pub to enjoy their popular Pimm’s.
THE RICHMOND PARK
You can otherwise go directly to Richmond Park, by taking the bus n.65 just outside the Richmond station, and getting off at the Dysart stop.
The park is huge, you can rent a bike or consider walking a lot and probably not being able to see it all.
The real attraction of the park are the deers, which you can see free to walk and run. They are accustomed to the presence of people and easily sighted.
Since 1953 the park is enriched with a lovely garden called Isabella Plantation, an oasis of peace, where you can admire beautiful azaleas, streams and a pond.
I also recommend heading to the King Henry’s Mound. From the hill located in Pembroke Lodge Gardens, you can admire St. Paul’s Cathedral miles and miles away throughout trees. The view has in fact been protected during all these centuries and the buildings are not allowed to be built along this panoramic view.
It is said that Henry VIII could keep the cathedral under control from here and waiting for the signal that Anne Bolena had been executed and thus be able to marry Lady Jane Seymour.
Legend or not, the image that you can see among the trees (thanks also to the landscapers who still keep it) is really suggestive!
If you are in Richmond for a full day and you still have time, you have two options:
- Make a stop at the Terrace Gardens, one of Turner’s favorite spots, which often portrayed Richmond’s scenic view from this hillside. The park is a little gem, with lots of beautiful flowers. At the top of the park, you will find a pretty and set apart bar, the Hollyhock Cafe, where you can take a break, drink a tea or have lunch (they do everything, ready-made dishes, sandwiches, pastries, juices and milkshakes).
- Go to the Petersham Nursery, that is a very unique place: a garden that is also a greenhouse that is a shop that is a restaurant, where to buy flowers and plants, accessories for the house while having lunch or a tea in their beautiful conservatory.
WHAT ELSE TO SEE IN RICHMOND
If you want to continue visiting the borough of Richmond Upon Thames, I suggest to go to the Kew Gardens, a botanical garden that is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Not in the same day of the Richmond park, because you will need at least 3 hours to visit it.
You may be interested in reading the post I wrote about our picnic at Kew Gardens.
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