I’ve lived near Richmond Park for nearly 12 years now and one of the things I’d always meant to do, for probably nearly all that time, was to do the Tamsin Trail, which is a route around the edge of the park. For some reason, for all that time, I thought that the route was 14km, which was pretty daunting for someone (for a lot of the time I’ve lived here) more used to doing 5km but actually, as I learned today, the route is actually about 12km, although having said that, old me would have found 12k pretty daunting too.
Anyway, since starting the Capital Ring in February 2016 and doing some other long walks in Richmond Park and by the Thames, I’ve built up my endurance but 14k (well that’s what I thought it’d be when I set out) was still a bit *gulp*. It’s something I always meant to do but I always wanted it to be reasonable weather (not too hot, not too cold, not too muddy) and for it to be on a day where I had nothing else planned. But when I went out for a walk last week, on one particularly fine early Spring day and I found myself doing a good third of the route before heading back, I thought “Jo, next clear day with reasonable weather, you are so, finally, doing this”, so I did.
The start – Kingston Gate
1km – I decided to do the trail in an anti-clockwise direction. Now obviously you can start the trail at any of the many park gates or car parks but as I had started at Kingston Gate, I wanted to tackle the park’s really big hill (Kingston Hill), first thing rather than last. Plus, I am rather fond of the view facing north, once you start going down Kingston Hill again.
2km – just before my favourite viewpoint (picture of favourite viewpoint from last week’s walk, here)
3km – nearing Robin Hood Gate
4km – walking along Beverley Brook (which is to the right, behind the fence – some bits of it have been fenced off to protect it from deer, in an effort to improve the brook’s ecology).
I should mention, as well, in this bit, that the Tamsin Trail isn’t particularly well signposted, it doesn’t really need to be, it’s a bit hard, after all, to lose yourself from the edge of a park but it’s sometimes not clear whether you should be sticking to the main path or some of the more ‘rougher’, grassy, stony or muddy paths. I think you’re probably meant to be sticking to the main paths but I detoured off them, as in this bit by Beverley Brook, if the ‘wilder’ path, took me more closer to the actual edge of the park. If you’re interested in doing the trail and you need a nice, firm, properly maintained path to do it on, please don’t worry that my photos are sometimes showing the very opposite, there is always a nice path along this route, I’m just not sticking to it.
5km – nice path, with added car park. This is near Roehampton Gate, there’s a cafe just out of shot in the photo here too, it looks quite nice, although I’ve never been actually in it. Also, perhaps worth noting, for those people thinking of doing the trail, I’ve seen other websites saying there are quite a few places to stop and get a bite to eat along the route, well, there may be in the height of summer but for the rest of the year, if you’re sticking strictly to the trail, the cafe at Roehampton Gate is it, so be prepared.
After Roehampton Gate, I was venturing into unknown territory for me, so although for the rest of the route I was just sticking to photos at the kilometre marks, I couldn’t resist taking photos of new to me stuff, that I found on this particular stretch.
This stretch of park wall had quite a few water courses going through it, at this point I wasn’t on the main path, so I had to, in particular, detour around the river in the photo above this one and there were quite a few small plank bridges and thankfully mainly dry ditches, to get over.
6km – some unexpected daffodils.
I particularly liked this next bit. I’d never been here before and so (and I am very easily pleased sometimes) it was a bit like being on holiday, specially as the sun was shining and the sky so open, a fierce wind was blowing too, it didn’t feel like London.
9km – getting back into familiar territory now, just past Richmond Gate. This was another bit where I was unsure about which direction to go in, the well-maintained path, stays on the ridge of the hill, past Pembroke Lodge but it isn’t anywhere near the edge of the park, whereas to get to the path that runs more closely to the edge of the park, you need to go down this quite steep, muddy slope, which I chose to do, so for this next bit I may have actually been way off the trail.
10km – definitely familiar territory now.
I know this bit of path really well and I’m pretty sure that I’ve photographed this tree a lot but I liked how it was silhouetted against the sky today.
11km – really familiar now.
12km – nearly there, just one last hill to go and although it’s not that steep, I’m knackered.
The end! – 12.4km (according to the walking app on my phone) and in 2 hr 43 minutes, which was non-stop except for short stops to take photos. I am very glad that I’ve ticked that off my mental ‘to-do list’, after so long wanting to do it and I am really pleased to discover a new to me bit of Richmond Park, it’s just a bit unfortunate that it’s probably the furthest point away from me but still, it’s a part of the park to aim for next time I want one of my long walks!