Cycling the Thames Route – Richmond Park to Hampton Court

Sheets of rain cascaded from the ominous grey sky into the fast flowing river. We had found shelter in the lovely Riverside Vegetaria restaurant.

Tucking into a chef specials platter we watched the world go by.

A group huddled in an open air boat battling with their umbrellas. The small motor chugged on sending them slightly of course. Both the people and the engine looked to be struggling.

Meanwhile, on the banks of the river cyclists and walkers took refuge under trees.

The ailments were ferocious, a gentleman paddle boarded down the river, with the wind beating against him. He trooped on with strength, taking the weather in his stride.

Luckily the rain didn’t last long. Before we knew it the sky had transformed back it’s sunny self, just as it was moments before. The wind decided to persist but that too eased off somewhat.

The day had began by taking my bike from Hampstead Heath Rail Station to South Acton. On weekends you are allowed to take bikes on the overground. This is very easy to do.

From there I cycled to Richmond Park to meet my friend. We enjoyed looping around the stunning region. Green fields surrounded us. Other bikers whizzed on by. In the far distance deer could be seen grazing. Looking over my shoulder a rabbit bounded through the long grass.

Exiting the park we made it to the River Thames where we had found the delightful Indian fusion vegetarian restaurant – Riverside Vegetaria.

Seeing the sun reappear we thought it was time to leave. I bid farewell to my friend having had a wonderful cycle around Richmond and a delicious lunch.

Having a look at my map it seemed like Hampton Court was very nearby. I thought it would be a shame not to pop by. So following the Thames path I detoured there. Cycling along the river was tranquil. Across the bank beautiful river homes stood tall. Their architecture was quaint. They had well kept gardens, with neatly pruned trees.

The cycle path was wonderful. At times there was a separate part for walkers, making it very easy to ride. When the path became shared it was still manageable. I guess due to the weather not many people were out.

On my right deer grazed in Hampton Wick park. There were walking paths next to them which looked lovely.

Before long I made it to the magnificent Hampton Court, home to Henry VIII and built in 1515. As it was 4 pm I didn’t have enough time to go inside. However, it’s exterior was jaw dropping – red bricks had been crafted into an ornate palace.

I wondered around the grounds.

The vegetable garden was meticulous. Conscientious gardeners had ensured not a weed was in sight. Lines of crops had been planted separated by neat hedges.

In the secret garden, rose plants had been cut back and were awaiting buds. Each colourful plant was labelled and separated from one another.

Ornaments were carefully placed in the centre. Statues stood symmetrically. In the background you could see the grand palace.

The grounds also had a maze, which was enjoyed 300 years ago by Queen Victoria. Today you can get well and truly lost in it. With my sense of direction I thought it best to avoid on this occasion. Plus, I still had at least an hour cycle left.

Fields of wild plants flourished. In the 18th century formal gardens are said to have gone out of fashion. So woodlands were established in Hampton Court. Native plants were grown and left to populate the area.

A little while on it was time to jump back on my bike and head back to an overground station. I followed the Thames path back the way I had come. This took me along the river and through Richmond Park once more.

Suddenly, out of nowhere rain and wind hit me at full force. My bike started meandering to my left as the gail threatened to throw me off. Luckily I was near Richmond station – 15 minutes left or so. I cranked up my gears and peddled with all my might into the oncoming wind. I took it face on. Exiting the park I saw people standing under trees for shelter. I joined them to take a dramatic picture of the wonderful scenery.

Knowing I was near the station I got back on my bike and braved the rain. Richmond station was rammed. Drunks were fighting, police trying to help people and station staff getting frustrated. Apparently, a tree had fallen on the tracks meaning trains were cancelled and delayed. Luckily my train was on time. Feeling pleased that the tree missed the tracks to North London, I quickly got the overground and left the mayhem behind.

From the train window I watched as rain pelted onto the tracks. Miraculously when I arrived at my station the rain has eased. So my cycle home was largely dry.

Taking off my damp clothing and putting on a dry set felt incredible.

According to my google maps I cycled a total of 35 miles – not too shabby. The Thames path from Richmond Park to Hampton Court is 8 miles one way. This is fairly flat. I would also recommend cycling around Richmond Park (although much less flat).

Has anyone else cycled the Thames Path?

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