15 February 2009

Richmond Park in February

Richmond Park attracts hordes of visitors at weekends and they walk, jog, cycle and drive along the roads, paths and tracks. But if you keep away from these obvious routes then you can find yourself all alone and can forget that you are sharing the park with anybody else.

Richmond Park is worth exploring at any time of the year as the foliage, colours and light change with the seasons. In February, the browns dominate large areas where the ferns are still waiting for the warmer weather.

The trees are one of the best features of the park as they provide screening and shade when in leaf and become mysterious shapes when their branches are exposed.

To the West of the road between Kingston Gate and Richmond Gate, the park falls away toward Ham offering invigorating slopes, sights and spaces. It is also one of the quietest parts of the park, which is another good reason for going there.

Just over the brow of this hill is the section of the main path between Pembroke Lodge and Ham Gate but that's where the people and the cars are so it is best to keep well away.

In the corner of the park between Dysart Gate and Richmond Gate, the sleeping brown ferns give way to grass growing on small mounds of earth. The trees are fewer and the terrain more difficult but it's the only way to get to Richmond Gate so it's a route I often take. At least the changing ecosystems add interest to the exercise.

This part of the park is also wet, sometimes very wet. There are no rivers or gullies here but the water oozes out of the ground in several places and hangs around long enough to create the sort of mud that turns paths into slides and, somehow, leaps up to cover your shoes and trousers.

The path gets steeper and wetter as you approach Richmond Gate and the last few metres are only passable thanks to some stone steps but despite struggling through the mud and brambles I always regret leaving the park behind as I emerge from the gate on to the path to rejoin all the people and cars.

1 comment:

  1. Great pics bringing back happy memories. I used to live in a flat in East Sheen, Upper Richmond Road, and there was an entrance to the park on the opposite side of the road. I loved it and still make visits. Now I live nearer to a smaller Royal Park - Greenwich.



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