Wimbledon to Richmond
15 April. As participants said, this was more of an amble than a ramble! We did not rush, partly because we allowed time for people to appreciate the spring flowers and partly because we didn’t want to lose any of those who were falling behind.
Fourteen of us set off at about 9.25 from Wimbledon station, walked up the hill to Wimbledon Village, passed Rushmere Pond on the Common and went into Cannizaro Park. We went around the back of Cannizaro House (now a Hotel du Vin) to the sunken garden next to the hotel, where our group became fifteen and we admired the formal parterre.
After a look in the Herb Garden, we walked through the wood in the wilder part of the park, past rhododendrons and azaleas, only a few of which were in flower. We ended up in a circular dead end called The Retreat, where there was a strange monolith around which we circled and discussed its meaning and purpose (just like “2001: A Space Odyssey”!)
The sunken garden
The group circling the monolith
We went back through the wood on a different route to reach the Italian Garden, which had water running over the paving stones towards us. Intrepidly we continued through the Garden, against the flow of water and up steps, which were now a waterfall, to find our way barred by the flood from an overflowing pond.
Some nifty footwork along a grassy area behind shrubs to the left of the flooded area prevented us from having to wade through the water. We then exited Cannizzaro Park via a path next to allotments.
We were now back on Wimbledon Common. Avoiding the golf balls of players on the Royal Wimbledon Golf Course, we soon reached woods with well-defined paths. The only problem was to ensure we took the correct path as there were many forks. Eventually, we arrived at the picturesque Beverley Brook and walked alongside it to the playing fields with their very welcome public toilets.
After crossing the busy A3 with the aid of the efficient pelican crossings, we entered Richmond Park and immediately turned left for a walk along a path which is barred to cyclists. After a short uphill section, we reached the Isabella Plantation, where we saw some strange yellow flowers along the sides of a stream. We learnt these are called “Western Skunk Cabbage”. Apparently, they emit a terrible smell.
Yellow Western Skunk Cabbage
We saw some azaleas and cherry trees in bloom. Further on, we came across some stunningly beautiful and large purple heather.
Once our leader had managed to entice us away from the flowers, we left Isabella Plantation. Walking north-west across Richmond Park, we saw our path barred by some fallen trees, which we needed to circumvent. As we approached the logs, we realised that 4 deer were sitting, perfectly camouflaged, in front of us. Unfortunately, our approach resulted in the deer standing up.
Deer in Richmond Park
We took a sharp left to avoid the deer and made our way to our lunch stop at Pembroke Lodge, arriving about 30 minutes later than our leader had predicted because it really had been an amble!
Some people had a picnic in the grounds, others made use of the café. Some did both. The sun had come out and it was warm enough for us to sit outside on the terrace with wonderful views to the west.
Five left to find their own way more directly to Richmond station, leaving ten of us to carry on our ambling. After a brief visit up King Henry’s Mound to see the protected strategic view of St. Paul’s Cathedral in the City of London, we left Richmond Park. Walking past the former Royal Star and Garter Home, we reached the promenade on Richmond Hill, with its wonderful view down to the River Thames, where it turns at Petersham Meadows.
The view from Richmond Hill
The towpath and boats on the river
We then zig-zagged down through the pretty Terrace Gardens until we reached the river, where we walked along the towpath past the boats and boathouses.
Finally, we turned off the towpath at Friar’s Lane, crossed Richmond Green and reached Richmond station.
Terry (with thanks to Ginny, Christine, Sally and Sigrid for photos).