A group of VTers and myself took a trip into Richmond Park to see the amazing collections of azaleas and rhododendrons. It was the perfect weekend to see them at their best.
I'd checked with the Park office first to find out the best time.
So many years previously I'd missed them at their best or been too early.
You definitely need to reach the Plantation by car, as it's a long walk from any of the pedestrian gates to the Park.
We did a round trip, taking in the delights of the 'Pen Ponds' first..
A bit about the Isabella.
In the 17th Century that part was known as the 'Sleyt'- boggy ground.By 1771 it became known as 'Isabella Slade'.It is unknown whether that was the name of a wife of a member of staff, or, more likely,it was from the word-'isabel',meaning d=ingy/yellow, which is the soil colour here.In 1831 the 42 acres were fenced in and planted with tree varieties, for timber.The present gardens were planted in the 1950s, with azaleas and rhododendrons.The main stream was dug in 1960, the wild stream, in 1989 and planted with ferns and water plantains.
There are now over 120 hybrids of rhododendrons and 50 species.
Many visiting birds come here, including the flocks of noisy green parakeets, which abound in the Park and local area.
The Plantation is an idyll of peace and beauty, yet still within London.
We also discovered it has excellent toilet facilities! That is a bonus as the area is a long way from other public toilets in the Park!
Hidden a couple of blocks up the hill from Richmond's main street is a small cemetery called the Vineyard Passage Burial Ground. This burial ground was opened in the 1790s and closed a century later.
These days many of the gravestones are so eroded that it is hard to read them, and some have fallen over or been damaged over the years.
Since 1995 a group of volunteers has formed, and helps to maintain the burial ground as a peaceful retreat for locals and passers-by. They have also been involved in restoring some of the most important burial monuments.
I was intrigued by the burial ground when I discovered it and was amazed to see gravestones from the late 1700's - the oldest I had ever seen. I often walk by there now and enjoy watching squirrels playing amid the stones.
Nearest Tube/Train: Richmond station is about 5 minutes walk away
Located on Vineyard Passage, just off Paradise Road, behind Vestry House
Besides of the great scenery that offers at Richmond, look behind the bench you are sitting on! You will find some poems or memories of those who enjoyed very much and for those whom to be remembered. You want might want to label your as well.
An enormous flock of green parakeets has decided to make its home in the grounds of Pembroke Lodge, in Richmond Park.
They screech across the sky, darting from tree to tree, surprising the visitors!
There are hundreds of them.They, supposedly originate from a pair that escaped from their home in Kew some years ago.They began by settling in Kew Gardens and then decided to move up the Hill to the Park!They love, particularly, one of the trees by King Henry's Mound,(where you get the amazing view of St. Paul's Cathedral).
They look so funny and make such a noise!
Pembroke Lodge is a historic house, having been the home of Bertrand Russell.It was used as a War Room in the 1st World War, where several campaigns were planned by the Cabinet.
These days it's a restaurant and cafeteria, as well as being a venue for corporate events as well as weddings and parties.
Hot meals ,as well as cold snacks cakes and sandwiches, are served every day.Enjoying a coffee on the terrace, with a Danish pastry,overlooking the fabulous view, over the Surrey countryside,is good, even if there's a nip in the air!
Sunday lunch is especially good, in the public cafeteria, but food and drinks are served every day.It remains open every day. till one hour before sunset( the same time as the park remains open to vehicles).
Pedestrians can stay in the park, as there are pedestrian gates which are open at all times.
These meadows are beside the river Thames, a short stroll from the town centre, along a path that will eventually take you to Teddington Lock, taking in Ham House on the way.Teddington is the last lock on the Thames, from here on the Thames is non-tidal to its source.
Cows have been grazing here for many years.There used to be a commercial dairy,Hornby and Clarke's, based at the farm, and milk was delivered around Richmond, from a horse-drawn cart! The cows are herded into the Petersham Farm at night, but are free to roam around the meadows during the day.One can walk through the meadows, amongst the cows, avoiding the 'pats', past the farm and into the churchyard of the famous St. Peter's church.Vancouver is buried in the graveyard here.( you Canadians might know that already!).
If you carry on walking, past the church and cross the Petersham Road, you can take the pedestrian entrance into Richmond Park and climb the hill, up to Pembroke Lodge.Before crossing the road, there is a lovely traditional pub, The Dysart, where one can have a pint, or 6, and enjoy the good food on offer.The garden of the pub has heaters, at the front, so it's still quite pleasant sitting there in the winter, looking at the view of the Park.
Back to the cows again--!
Strolling through the fields, one can hardly believe this is part of London!
The fields flood occassionally at high tide, but there is a path that runs along side the river, that is raised above water level-so you don't get your feet wet!
The deer are able to roam where they want in the Park, so the public have to be advised to keep clear of them and not to feed them.
Deceased animals have been found to have ring-pulls, plastic bags and other rubbish in their stomachs from inconsiderate picnickers, who leave their rubbish lying around.
They are also advised to be careful in the rutting season, but still people try to get too close to them, thinking they are tame.
Some people allow their dogs to get near them and frighten them and risk being injured, so all dogs should be on leads when in the vicinity of the deer.
Whilst visiting Pembroke Lodge, in Richmond Park,an historic house,now with restaurant,cafe and function facilities,you must go to King Henry's Mound.
It's in the grounds of Pembroke Lodge and well signposted.From the top you can see the vista,through London to St.Paul's Cathedral!
It is designated a protected vista,so nothing can be built to mar the view, through the trees.
On a clear day it's an amazing sight!
It's hard to believe that a sight of London can be seen clearly from Richmond!
You can just about make out a small glimmer of light in the centre of the picture-that is the unhindered view to St. Paul's.Not a very clear day though!
Of course, as the leaves are falling from the trees, as now, the view is even more spectacular.And you can get a warming cup of tea at Pembroke Lodge and a fresh cream tea, with scones!Or wonderful hot meals at lunchtime.
This is the beautiful river Thames and Richmond Bridge.Many boats are moored alongside the river.One can take a boat trip to London or to Hampton Court from the landing stage by the White Cross pub, or just walk along the river admiring the view!
The riverside path goes towards Kew in one direction and in the other, towards Ham, Twickenham and Teddington.The lock at Teddington is the last one on the Thames, from there on it is non- tidal.
There are several pubs beside the river, near the bridge.The White Cross is a traditional English pub, renowned for its Young's beer.
Further along, past the bridge are the Slug and Lettuce and Henry's,(usually frequented by the younger Richmond residents!).They all provide good food and the White Cross has a garden at the front, as well as a second bar, in the garden, so you don't even have to go back inside the pub to replenish your glass!
The Canyon restaurant is on the riverfront, near to where this picture was taken.It's very fashionable and pricey, all the celebs go there.The restaurant collects its customers in buggies that are able to drive along the towpath, to save them walking from the main road!
This lake in the Plantation is home to many varieties of exotic ducks.
There are Mandarins, Egyptian Geese, Divers, Grebes,Pintail Ducks, Mallard,all living happily together.
This statue of a General Bernardo Ohiggins from Chile is interesting ,they put his statue here because he was educated in richmond
These beautiful creatures roam free in the Park.
Unfortunateley much traffic uses the park as a cut-through route, but the speed limit has been reduced to 20mph to avoid accidents involving the deer.
A walk along the Terrace, leading to the top of Richmond Hill, gives one the famous view of the River Thames, painted and photographed by so many visitors.
Really beautiful place to wander round,This palace was where Henry 8th used to live many years ago,I think it was a gift from Thomas Wolsey,trrying to win favour from the King.
This is the Richmond filmhouse, it shows art film, i.e. not the trashy hollywood films!
There is a good selection, and they have a varied choice at weekends...
Located on Water Lane