With the start of the New Year, after a Christmas of excesses it is always tough to get back fit again...even tougher to get outside and cycle when the days are dark and chilly. However when the forecast is for sunshine it's a chance to make that extra effort, so this week I got my layers on and got myself out for a winter workout.
Living in South West London, where the River Thames runs is not a hilly area except when you live near the largest Royal Park of London Richmond Park. There are a couple of tasty hills in the park and it is located on the top of Richmond Hill meaning 3 hills to challenge myself...and by the way this is with a regular hybrid bike...I don't own a super lightweight road bike.
After the first slog up Richmond Hill and entering the park, I began my chosen anti clockwise route and was rewarded within minutes of several groups of deer just taking some morning rays or searching for breakfast.
I pass Ladderstile Gate next, this reminds me, when the park was originally set up in 1637 by King Charles I as a royal hunting ground, the entries into the park was via ladderstile gates to be climbed across or jumped across on a horse as the king must have done. The Georgian gates arrived in the 18th Century to allow the coaches and horses entry, there's a nice old water trough by the gate used for filling dog water bowls now it seems.
Next was Broomfield Hill which is tough either way and I'm not sure which I prefer, anti clockwise is a slow longer slope , clockwise a sharp shorter route. A guest last year recognized the name from his cycling app he used in the US but we didn't attempt it then because we were on an all day ride concentrating on miles not a workout. From the top of this hill you can see the tops of buildings in Central London but too hazy for a good picture.
After enjoying the steep downhill I chose to go up to Pen Ponds which is pretty much in the centre of the park and the most peaceful area. These ponds were man made when the park was created as a watering hole for the deer, the name Pen may point to deer pens but more likely from the name of a female swan. This area is a protected nature reserve and we cannot cycle here but bikes can be locked up and a stroll added on a bespoke ride. The area in front of it is a nesting area for Skylarks and covered in ancient ant hills that should not be walked on.
Next passing White Lodge, which was the old royal hunting lodge used mainly by King George II when hunting in the park. King George III gave it to his old Prime Minister Henry Addington and made him deputy ranger + gave him the title Lord Sidmouth. He started protecting the park, replanting new trees and stopped the hunting but breeding the deer for the royal household. In 1926 White Lodge was resided in by King George VI and his wife , Queen Elizabeth II's birth certificate stated White Lodge her parents home. 1955 White Lodge became home to Sadler's Wells Ballet School, it received its Royal Ballet School status in 1956 and is still used for training the students.
Sawyers Hill was the 3rd hill in the park and is a long slow burner but has great views of the city on a clear day, this is a spot where we have enjoyed the New Years fireworks in past years.
View of old The Star and Garter home, I agree not an interesting picture but when seen from the riverside later if shows how high we are in the park.
Quick cuppa stop at Pembroke Lodge -gorgeous scones but I was being good
Not a bad view even on a murky January day...
Gorgeous scones but I was being good ...today
Leaving Richmond Park I now cycle via Ham and Petersham, here there are 2 of my favourite refreshment stops The New Inn pub and Petersham Nursery Cafe.
Remember The Star and Garter picture from Richmond Park? here it is sited on top of Richmond Hill... our 1st hill of the ride....
Finally back to the riverside and heading home for lunch, I pass The Poppy Factory, this is where ex soldiers make the iconic flowers for Remembrance Day, the Poppy Factory can be visited at certain times.
All in all a great winter workout....and you can book your own private ride:
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