After being taken down by the flu this last week, the beginning of January seems like a long time ago. (Doesn’t the month drag its heels!) Whilst I don’t love January, I actually don’t mind the down time too much as it usually means I feel less guilty about staying in to keep cosy, I’m more motivated to do life admin and my wages go further than they usually do (I get paid mid month, hurrah!). That said, I often get to a point when it feels like I’ve transported myself from one place to the other with little or no movement, so I like to check out a local park to get that bit of fresh air and the kind of achy legs that feel satisfying.
Bushy Park is the last Royal Park on my list to visit, although I will no doubt need to visit Brompton Cemetery, Victoria Tower Gardens and Grosvenor Square Gardens for completeness. After spending over a week from Christmas to New Year on various different sofas, I was desperate to get outside and fancied somewhere new. Bushy Park was the obvious answer.
Since we live south of the river it wasn’t the longest journey to Teddington, the station we decided to go to to reach Bushy (you can also access the park via Hampton Court). It was a short walk from the station to the gate before we were contemplating the map and which bit we’d cover.
Bushy Park is the second largest of the Royal Parks (Richmond coming in first) with 1,100 acres. Like many of London’s parks it’s impossible to do it all in a day, so we opted for the one half with most of the main attractions.
Armed with a steaming hot chocolate, we entered the Waterhouse Woodland Garden next to the Pheasantry Cafe.
What I instantly liked about the park was all of the water. Longford River is a 19km canal, built on the order of King Charles I to provide water to Hampton Court and the parks various ponds.
It adds a soothing quality to a slow walk through the gardens. It’s also helpful in pointing you in the right direction as we simply followed the flow of water in a sort of backwards L shape.
The route takes you through all of the different parts of the gardens.
(How peaceful would it be to live right in the middle of a park like Bushy?!)
Although winter strips the park of any lush colours, I liked the richness of the fallen leaves and the light streaming through the bare branches.
As a Royal Park since 1529, you can find plenty of history in Bushy Park.
Waterhouse Pond dates back to 1710.
There’s a sort of uniformity that hints at how it has developed over the centuries for the entertainment of the gentry.
Eventually, we found ourselves back out on open land and I started playing spot the deer.
Luckily they’re no longer hunted and get to roam freely for the enjoyment of visitors.
They’re such elegant animals, it’s hard not to become a little mesmerised by their graceful movements.
(Spot the deer part II.)
With aching legs I was tempted to leave it there, until I realised that we hadn’t seen the Upper Lodge Water Gardens. So we went on a bit of a longer-than-anticipated walk to find the entrance.
The gardens were restored in the 1990s, disguising a history that goes back to 1710, when it was a private recreational garden for the first Earl of Halifax.
Satisfied that I’d seen as much as possible, we took a leisurely stroll towards the exit, enjoying the lovely low winter sun.
A pub lunch at The Railway proved the perfect end to a lovely winter’s day.
See, January isn’t all doom and gloom 😉
Find all the details you need to know on the Royal Parks website.