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Kew - Richmond: The First of our Top 50 Walks in the UK

A few weeks ago three of us set off on our first of fifty walks. The idea behind all these walks was ‘developed’ one evening over dinner and a bottle of wine with Miss Benbow. We were making the most of the last warm evenings of the summer – dining alfresco – and the fresh air got to our heads. A few years back Amy had come across The Guardian’s Guide to Britain’s 50 Best Walks. And we were going to do them. All.

It was the perfect opportunity to see more of the beautiful country that we live in. We could take pictures, visit local coffee shops, pubs and restaurants and discover nature’s delights along the way. As the evening continued the idea branched off onto further tangents. But the crux remained the same: to complete the walks together. It was also decided that friends would be welcome and that we’d aim to complete them all in three years.

So with that in mind, a few weeks later we poured over our diaries to find a suitable date for our first walk. As expected this wasn’t as simple as it should seem, but we managed to co-ordinate a few Saturday hours, eliminating travel time, deciding on a more local option. Our first walk was to be: Kew – Richmond in Surrey.

On the day we met in Mortlake and after a quick Google Map check, worked out which way the river was, and headed in that direction. This particularly pretty tow-path walk wasn’t particularly long – only 14km. We were told it would take us four hours. Now if we hadn’t gone slightly off-piste in Richmond Park, we’d have done it in three hours (excluding our dalliance for lunch). But we did, and the few extra kilometres we added in took us up to about four hours of walking.

We began with a coffee / hot chocolate at a little coffee shop in Mortlake, Cafe Leo. Popped into a lovely looking pub called The Swan (or maybe White Swan?) just passed Twickenham Bridge – it looked lovely and was very tempting to stop for lunch here... we’ll be back. Instead we ventured on, through Richmond and to Petersham Nurseries.

If you haven’t been here before, I suggest you visit. It’s beautiful. There is both a cafe and a restaurant, which are housed in glass-houses draped in a selection of flowering plants: vines, jasmine and many more. You’ll need to book for the restaurant, not for the coffee shop. And they sell plants – need I say more!

Eventually we managed to tear ourselves away, as the rain started to drizzle and the temperature tipped lower. Conversation revolved around whether or not we’d have to hike up the hill in Richmond Park... To our utter delight, on reading the map, it was decided that luck was indeed on our side – we wouldn’t be walking up the hill.

To make the experience even better we stumbled across a magnificent stag, Amy’s first in Richmond Park.

Then we came to the gate. However it was the wrong gate. We should have actually just bitten the bullet and walked up the hill in the first place. Well we were about to now. Resuscitating our map-reading skills, we resigned ourselves to the fact that we’d be walking up the hill. This lead to further sightings of deer and conversation turned to how well we’d fare if left to survive in the wild for a night. I was rather keen, reminiscing back to the waterproof shelters built from branches in the forest during my youth. Amy admitted that she too had made shelters, but that they comprised sheets and pillows – she would obviously be doing the interior design of our shelter. Ciara advised that she had no survival skills. However, she would be the entertainment as she’s Irish and great craic.

Eventually we reached the right gate and with slightly tired legs, walked the remaining few miles back to Mortake Station. I’d recommend this walk for those who’d like to see a little more of the beautiful countryside that is really just so close to the city. As you meander along the path, life on the river continues – the rowers on the river training is always an inspiring sight. The bird life too entertains, pottering about on important Saturday business.

Here are a few more pictures from our adventure:

A little romance en-route!

FYI there are not really any locations until you get to Twickenham Bridge for one to make use of any facilities.



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