Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Richmond Park outer and inner loop – (Surrey) – 21/09/08 – 10.5 miles approx – 0kg - Helen

At last summer returned (for the weekend at least), which found Richmond Park packed with people enjoying what may be one of the last decent days this year. For my part having taken all of the skin off of my heels a mere ten days ago, I wasn’t taking any chances this time out. That meant no carrying excess weight (for this walk anyway), trainers instead of boots, and both heels protected with thick plasters.
The more I see of Richmond Park the more I like it, and on this occasion I decided we should go round in the opposite direction to how I would normally do it on a bike. However first things first, and having arrived at the park around 11.40 (bus diversions in Richmond), it wasn’t long before we decided to stop for lunch. This section from Richmond gate to Robin Hood gate turned out to be the busiest with a never ending procession of cyclists and joggers doing their thing (not to mention the kite-boarders in the distance).
Having done three quarters of the outer loop by chance we ended up on an unintended, and far superior to my normal, path running from Kingston to Richmond gate that doesn’t run alongside the road. Thus the outer loop was completed on this section at our start point at the Dysart Arms. Then for the second time we did the steep climb which takes one up to Petersham Lodge where we had a cup of tea/coffee only. From there it was round the inner loop, finally coming out at Ham gate, and catching an overcrowded 65 bus home.
For my money Richmond Park is the nearest London has to New York’s Central Park in terms of being a democratic open space. What’s that about Hyde Park you say ? Well the fact is that area wise Richmond Park could swallow Hyde Park (including the next door Kensington Gardens) at least six times over. Thus with a vital green lung like this in the heart of (West) London, you cannot expect it to be anything but popular. This therefore may be a problem for the walking purist, as may well be the gravel pathways that navigate a route for you through the flora and fauna. For my money though the multiple users furnish one with a sense of security and belonging, whilst the paths mean you can concentrate on your walking and not on consulting maps and a compass. Not for everyone sure, but as a walker you would have to fairly blinkered not to at least appreciate the beauty of the setting.

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