London Walks: A royal retreat to the deer and swans: Michael Leapman escapes the Hampton Court bustle for a peaceful wander in Bushy Park
Friday 08 July 1994
Bushy is the least known of the royal parks. A favourite with the Stuart kings and with Oliver Cromwell, one of its attractions is the long avenues of horse-chestnuts and limes, mostly created for William III. It also has two large ponds where fishing is allowed, dozens of swans and the most accessible herd of deer in the London area.
This route starts from the Diana Fountain, featuring a fine 17th-century sculpture by Francesco Fanelli. Walk north, away from the Hampton Court gate, on the grass verge to the left of the broad metalled Chestnut Avenue.
After about 200 yards, just before a small 30mph limit sign on the drive, take a clear grass track on the left towards a wooden fence, and go through the gate into the delightful woodland garden.
Cross the wooden bridge over the meandering stream and follow the path as it veers away from the stream, through trees, then turns sharply back as it meets the fence at the edge of the garden. Cross another bridge and turn right along the southern bank of the stream, soon passing a brick lodge on your right.
Leave the first section of the garden by a wooden gate and enter the second, more wooded section by a gate immediately opposite. Go ahead over another stream and bear right where the paths fork. At a grass triangle, go right to pass behind the tile-hung River Lodge, then keep straight ahead, with the wooden fence on your right.
Go through two more gates to leave the woodland garden for the last time, then turn left up a grass path with a fence on your left and newly planted horse chestnuts on your right.
After crossing a drainage channel, turn right across the grass, following the course of the channel until you come to a wide metalled path edged with white posts. Turn right on it, crossing the channel again.
Keep straight ahead at the broken signpost. Soon, through a clearing in the trees on your left, you get a good view of the red-brick Bushy Park House, where William IV lived before he was king.
The path joins Chestnut Avenue again, and you can see the Diana Fountain in the distance on your right. But if you cheat and cut back now you will miss the highlight of the walk, the red deer.
Turn right on Chestnut Avenue, and after a few yards take a surfaced path on your left. This is Cobblers Walk, and leads you towards the spot where the deer usually congregate.
We first saw three does and a fawn, then a group of about 50 does and fawns who, while not too anxious to socialise, were obviously unafraid of humans.
A little further on, beneath trees on the left, we saw their menfolk, sporting magnificent antlers.
After crossing the stream that feeds Leg o' Mutton Pond, turn sharp right and walk along the southern bank of the pond, then follow the next stream to Heron Pond - with dozens of magnificent royal swans.
The car park is just beyond the pond, and Hampton Court Station is back through the gates to the south.
Length: 3 miles.
Time: 90 minutes.
Car park: Near Diana Fountain in Bushy Park
(but may be difficult
during flower show).
Public Transport: BR to Hampton Court from Waterloo.
(Photograph and map omitted)
Life & Style blogs
Imagination Quotient tests could lead to smartphone app that boosts your creativity
Reader dilemma: 'My boyfriend jokes about putting photos of us having sex on Facebook'
The Gay Beards: Whiskers as you've never seen them before
Asexuality: when life isn't all about sex
Twitter deletes plagiarised jokes for 'copyright infringement'
The 9 charts that show the 'left-wing' policies of Jeremy Corbyn the public actually agrees with
Labour leadership contender Jeremy Corbyn says 'we can learn a great deal from Karl Marx'
The last thing Labour needs is a leader like Jeremy Corbyn who people want to vote for
What the Labour party could look like under Jeremy Corbyn
I am the Jeremy Corbyn supporter that many will tell you doesn't exist
Public anger after French sunbather beaten up by gang for wearing a bikini in Reims park
- 1 Reader dilemma: 'My boyfriend jokes about putting photos of us having sex on Facebook'
- 2 Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta clashes with President Obama on LGBT equality: ‘Gay rights is really a non-issue’
- 3 37-year-old black woman found dead in police custody
- 4 Kanye West praises Caitlyn Jenner on I Am Cait: 'You couldn't have been up against more'
- 5 Five-year-old boy forced classmate to simulate oral sex at primary school, claims mother
£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Junior IT Support Technician ...
£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides actionabl...
Negotiable depending on experience, plus benefits: Guru Careers: We are seekin...
£16000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...