We’d been talking about doing the Richmond Park loop since we walked across it last year as part of London Loop walks. I liked the size of it and how parts of it seemed utterly deserted. It somehow didn’t feel like it belonged to sedate and gentrified Richmond. In the end, I returned alone as Beloved is away and I’d been itching for a walk, having not done one since Lake District at the start of September. First solo walk too so I packed headphones, just in case. Once I was in the park (it’s a 20 or so minute walk from the station), headphones didn’t feel right, like I was robbing myself of my own senses. They never left the bag. I came into the park via Bishop’s Gate and did an anticlockwise loop – well, almost a full loop, 8 miles including the walk from the station and back. Heading towards King Henry’s Mound, I looked for less busy paths, being Saturday, there were quite a few people out and about. Just near the Mound, late autumn flowers, these looked like crocuses but I’m terrible with plant names so they’re probably something entirely different.
Great views from King Henry’s Mound, despite the low clouds, quite a few people around here too. Pembroke Lodge had a wedding reception, lovely setting for a wedding I thought, shame the weather wasn’t nicer for them. You can also just about see the autumn coming, leaves slowly turning yellow.
I headed down the path on the left of picture and shortly after, found myself walking on a narrow path through the bracken, pausing every now and then to pick blackberries. I didn’t encounter a single soul until I got to the road leading to Ham Gate. Here, I turned east and walked across to Isabella Plantation, passing a herd of fallow deer grazing. I’ve read that Isabella Plantation is best in late spring but it is probably very busy then. It’s very peaceful now.
I do love heather and seem to be building a nice photo library of it. I was walking around slowly taking photos and got startled a couple of times by loud voices. I quickly changed paths, loud voices didn’t seem to belong here.
Leaving the plantation, I headed east towards Robin Hood Gate and soon saw a group of red deer close to the path.
Love the bracken stuck on the buck’s antlers. Shortly after I took this photo, the deer ran off as a family decided to set up a picnic nearby. The path got busier again, there was a car park nearby and a mound which seemed very popular with runners and cyclists. I veered off the gravel path as soon as I spotted an alternative and headed north towards Roehampton Gate. Saw quite a few more deer but didn’t take any more photos. I think this part of the park is less interesting, there is less to look at but it was quiet again. Then I turned west again along the quieter narrow paths and not long after, found myself in front of the gate I came in from. The loop only took a couple of hours, I was expecting it to take longer but I did walk pretty fast on the return leg. I was surprised to see so many parts of the park devoid of walkers, people always congregate near car parks, around tea rooms, gardens and gates and there are all these wonderful expanses of woodland and parkland completely empty. Before going home, I visited Beloved’s Pater Familias who told me about the old paths through the park and produced a book with information on old parish boundary lines and farmsteads (pre Henry VIII). Trees that to our modern eye look randomly placed marked these old paths, they are not accidental. We made a plan for all of us to return in winter when these paths and remains of cottages are less obscured by bracken and tall grasses. Looking forward to it already.