At almost 1000 hectares (the largest urban parkland in Europe), this park offers everything from formal gardens and ancient oaks to unsurpassed views of central London 12 miles away. It’s easy to flee the several roads slicing up the rambling wilderness, making the park perfect for a quiet walk or a picnic with the kids, even in summer when Richmond’s riverside heaves. Coming from Richmond, it’s easiest to enter via Richmond Gate or from Petersham Rd.
Herds of more than 600 red and fallow deer basking under the trees are part of its magic, but they can be less than docile in rutting season (September and October) and when the does bear young (May to July), so keep your distance (over 50m) during these times. Birdwatchers will love the diverse habitats, from neat gardens to woodland and assorted ponds. Floral fans should visit Isabella Plantation, a stunning 16-hectare woodland garden created after WWII, in April and May when the rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias bloom.
Set in a beautiful 13-hectare garden and affording great views of the city from the back terrace, Pembroke Lodge was the childhood home of Bertrand Russell. The Georgian tea rooms can garnish your visit with warm scones and clotted cream from 9am to 5.30pm.
The pastoral vista from Richmond Hill has inspired painters and poets for centuries and still beguiles. It’s the only view (which includes St Paul’s Cathedral 10 miles away) in the country to be protected by an act of Parliament.