Length 9.8 km (6.1 miles), terrain: light hills
London Running Routes:
Best London Running Routes: Overview
Docklands-LimehouseRegent's Canal and Camden Town
3-Parks Route: Hyde Park, Green Park, St. James' Park
Heathrow Harmondsworth Moor
Wimbledon Common Trail Run
For more running routes, see Route List.
Richmond is one of my favorite places to stay and run in London. This elegant old town on the banks of the quiet Thames has a lot of flair. And, what's better, it has a huge park criss-crossed by trails, a constant alternation between open grasslands, ancient forests and ponds. Richmond Park is the place to be on a nice summer evening.
|Along the Richmond Park trail|
Richmond Park forms a rough circle, about 2-km in diameter, just east of Richmond. On its eastern edge, it touches another park, Wimbledon Commons, meaning you can easily extend your runs eastwards.
We'll start the run in Richmond, down on the banks of the Thames, at Water Lane, where several riverside pubs form the heart of Richmond nightlife. The river is narrow here, and lined by a trail on this side (another great run!). There's a boat-ramp, and an island across the water.
|The start at Water Lane along River Thames|
|Boathouse in Richmond|
Now you turn right and run the two blocks straight into Richmond Park, going by the gatehouse and through the iron gates. The park is surrounded by a brick wall.
|Richmond Gate is straight ahead|
Richmond Park, like about all the Royal Parks, began as a royal hunting grounds, stocked with deer. Later, it was made public. There are still more than 600 deer roaming the park.
|Deer: you are bound to see some!|
Luckily, most of the car traffic is turning right onto Queen's Road.
You will soon be able to see the skyline of central London off to the left horizon.
|City skyline in the distance|
There will be woods off to the right side. This is one of my favorite spots in the park. There are lots of amazing ancient oaks in Richmond Park, and you'll find some of the most breathtaking old trees along the left side. Definitely take a closer look, and run by some of these forest ancients: gnarled, hollow, huge, silent witnesses of the ages. Some of them look like they might pull their roots out of the ground and walk away, like in Lord of the Rings. You will not soon see anything like them again.
|A Richmond Park oak|
|The author waiting out a shower|
You are now heading south towards two ponds, the Pen Ponds. You will come to the smaller pond first. Stay to the left of the water, running along the east side of the pond.
The south end of the big pond is bordered by a woods. As soon as you reach the trees, you'll cross a small stream bed. Now turn left onto the dirt path curving to the southeast.
You are now running through varying grassland and trees, and you'll cross a paved bike trail.
You'll then start going uphill between two fenced-in woods. The woods on the right side is our next destination, Isabella Plantation, a garden in the middle of the park. NOTE: don't run on the trail with the loose orange sand: that is a bridal path (for horses). Take one of the smaller parallel paths for walkers.
Run on the path on the edge of the woods to your right. After cresting the hill, run down to the main entrance of Isabella Plantation, with its signs.
Go through the gates and you'll see a little stream on your left side. Now just follow the path next to the stream all the way through Isabella Plantation, running northwest.
|Path along the stream in Isabella Plantation|
Now turn right and follow the dirt road for 50 meters as it leads back to the paved bike path.
At the bike path, turn left and follow it southwest to the park's most trafficed car road, Queen's Road. Cross the road and then turn right onto the dirt pedestrian trail next to the road.
|Queen's Road foot trail|
You will run along a ridge, where you can see down grass-covered slopes towards the Thames on the left side. At the end of the slopes, there is a green sign pointing to a trail to Richmond Bridge, which goes down through the grass, curving to the right. You can take it if you want, but this route just follows the roads back.
When you exit the park, continue straight north along Richmond Hill. Stay on the left side of the street, and you can run in the narrow park along that side, overlooking the river down below.
|View of Thames from Richmond Hill|
Where the main road turns right at the House of Frazer department store, turn left onto Water Lane. In two blocks, you'll be back at the River Thames.