Photo: Taken on Dawn Chorus Walk by Charles Roscorla
On the first Saturday of every month, throw off your duvet early and head off to Richmond Park to join an organised walk starting at 10am from one of the car parks and led by enthusiastic and knowledgeable volunteers.
For the intrepid, there’s an option in April and October to “Walk the Wall”. Not an ‘elf-n-Safety defying balancing act but walking the entire perimeter of the Park – 7 miles or so. For more trepid walker like myself there are other options usually covering 2-5 miles over a couple of hours. For bird-lovers, try the informal bird walks every Friday at 9.30 from Pen Ponds Car Park. (Formal birds may be available).
If exercising your legs isn’t enough, your brain will get a workout too as the leaders regale you with their extensive knowledge of Park history, conservation, geology, hydrology and other ologies. In May, explore the magic of the Isabella Plantation, resplendent with azaleas and bluebells. If you’ve ever wondered why the red deer are bellowing like something out of Jurassic Park, then try the deer walk in October (but keep your distance; the stags are drunk with testosterone and may mistake you for a rival or, worse, an attractive female). Add another ology to your list by joining the fungus walk in November (mycology, as I’m sure you all knew). Keep your eyes on the ground with the botanists, or up in the sky with the ornithologists (another ology!) but careful not to fall down a rabbit hole or clock your head on a low hanging bough. If you do, someone will probably tell you what sort of tree it is. That would be the dendrologist in the group.
Dogs are welcome, just make sure you have a lead for areas like Pen Ponds or Isabella, and the leaders will make route adjustments for wheelchair users. These hardy leaders laugh in the face of Beasts from the East or Pests from the West – bad weather has never caused a walk to be cancelled in the 38 years that they’ve been running (it’s ok, you don’t have to run).
So check out the website and come out from under that duvet! A walk in the Park really is a piece of cake (purchased from one of the many excellent retail outlets – you deserve it!)
(With thanks to Alison Glasier)