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Where is this?

Richmond Park, an old Royal Hunting Park to the south west of London, about 10 miles from the city centre.

Richmond has an interesting history being the previous home to a Royal Palace in which Elizabeth I died in 1603.

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Richmond Park

Even in February, when few landscapes are at their best, Richmond Park is both relaxing and inspiring.richmond parkI know it well having grown up nearby and I still visit it often on my frequent trips to old friends. It never fails to give a feeling of space and that nature is not faraway when just outside its gates is bustling Richmond to the north east, even busier Kingston to the south and the largely residential areas of East Sheen, Roehampton, Ham, Petersham filling in the gaps.

Richmond Park is old and has been a royal hunting park for centuries with most of its present boundaries defined by Charles I.

Now it home to herds of red and roe deer that roam across the Park's entire expanse. These are culled every year to keep their numbers manageable and to ensure there is enough grass to support the herd.

richmond_parkDotted amidst the rough grass are little enclosures which are fenced off to allow new trees to grow safe from the deer's teeth. Several of these enclosures were planted after the hurricane of 1987 which destroyed so many of the Park's trees. The Park's tree are home to many birds including a wide selection of ducks on Pen Ponds near the centre of the Park but some of the most unlikely residents are the cockatiels. Bright green and very noisy, they were an accidental escape in the e1960s and find the Park extremely to their liking. There is a large flock that seems to be particularly fond of the trees near Sheen Gate.

But it is the trees that make Richmond Park so special to me. Much of the Park is rough grass which is broken up by stands of trees. Large, striking individual trees make imposing statements in the rough ground. Large regal, wide spreading oaks at this time of year are bare of their leaves and have a sombre presence. There are also quite a few dead tree stumps, some very large and dramatic that add a stillness even on the windiest of days.

richmond_park

There are always plenty of people about enjoying the Park, joggers (they rarely look as though they enjoy anything), cyclists and lots and lots of dog walkers. Being surrounded by some very affluent parts of London, many of the dogs reflect the current canine fashions as far as breeds are concerned. Very few mutts seem to be exercised here, but you feel that every dog comes with a very long and distinguished pedigree.

But as always, you only need to leave the car parks by a few hundred yards to lose most of the other visitors to the Park and enjoy the oasis of green, green grass, trees, deer and birds that make Richmond Park such a wonderful place.

 

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