As the leaves return to the trees, evenings get lighter, birdsong fills the air we all can sense the English summer is here.
The Royal Parks in and around London are a great place to experience summer at its best, with daffodils blooming and spending more time outdoors. There are numerous parks that you can visit across London and the suburbs but a few stand out.
One of my favourites is the Richmond Park in the London Borough of Richmond, a few miles from London.
About the Park
Richmond Park has not changed much over the centuries and, although it is surrounded by human habitation, it has varied landscape of hills, woodlands, and is set among ancient trees and wildlife. The park has been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a National Nature Reserve.
With royal connections going back to the reign of King Edward in 1272 the park changed its name from The Manor of Sheen to Richmond Park in Henry VII’s reign. In 1625 King Charles brought his court to Richmond Palace to escape the plague in London and to continue his hunting hobby introduced around 2,000 deer into this magnificent park. To make sure they didn’t stray he built a brick wall eight miles long, which you can still see today. The deers form an integral part of this park and you can see them walk freely anytime you visit this park.
Richmond Park is a famous site for ancient trees, particularly oaks, which have great historic and wildlife importance. The trees and associated decaying wood support nationally endangered species. Over one thousand species of beetle have been recorded in the park.This incredible environment has been created by centuries of grazing by the herds of red and fallow deer which are synonymous with this park.
The Pembroke Lodge is a magnificent listed Georgian Mansion set in 13 acres of landscaped grounds. It is situated at the highest point in Richmond Park with spectacular views over the Thames Valley became the home of the Prime Minister, Lord John Russell in 1847. It is now a popular restaurant with glorious views the valley and a backdrop to many a movie and television serials. The latest impressive film to be shot there was produced by the Friends of Richmond Park and is narrated and stars Sir David Attenborough.
The cafe within the house offers classic and contemporary English refreshments in elegant Georgian Tea Rooms and is open from 9am until 5.30pm with the exception of Christmas Eve and Day. Pembroke Lodge has hosted weddings for over 50 years and according to a major wedding website is the one of the most popular wedding venues in the UK.
The Isabella Plantation is a stunning garden which was created after World War II from an existing woodland, and is organically run, resulting in a rich flora and fauna. This is one of the most beautiful areas within Richmond Park and very popular during the spring and summer months.
The best time to visit the plantation is in spring. This is when a kaleidoscope of colour fills the plantation with bluebells carpeting the floor and evergreen azaleas and rhododendrons displaying vivid pinks, purples and reds. The best time to see the azaleas and rhododendrons in full bloom is the end of April and start of May.
Getting to Richmond Park
Richmond Park is easily accessible by public transport. A short train ride from London to Richmond Station – National Rail or District Line (and then catch the 371 or 65 buses to the pedestrian gates.
Richmond Park is open to vehicles from 7:00 am in the summer and 7:30 am in the winter with plenty of parking spaces free of charge. If you are using a mobile GPS device, the postcode for the park is TW10 5HS – this is for guidance only as the park covers a large area.
There are loads of other activities available in the park as well, from trying your hand at power kiting, horse riding or golf to off-road cycling along the Tamsin Trail.
For the golfing enthusiasts The Duke’s and Prince’s Courses with a layout of their 18 holes and a 15-bay Driving Range for golfers wanting to improve and those who are new to the game.
This is the perfect picnic spot for the entire family on a bright summers day.
So whether you are visiting London or live here, make sure to take out time this summer and visit this marvellous wilderness in the middle of a bustling city.