Isabella Plantation in Richmond Park is just breathtaking at the moment. We’ve been a number of times, but it never ceases to amaze. If you have never heard of it, it’s just a small part of the expansive Richmond Park, which is one of the eight Royal Parks in London (the others include Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, St James’ Park and Bushy Park). It’s completely free to visit, and easily accessible by bicycle or car. It is a little trickier by bus or train but not impossible if you are not averse to a bit of a walk! You can also hire bikes at Richmond train/tube station.
Isabella Plantation itself is quite hidden, so it’s definitely worth checking out the map before embarking upon a visit. Richmond Park has other gems well worth exploring too, such as Pembroke Lodge and Gardens which has a great cafe and amazing views (there is even a straight sightline all the way to St. Paul’s cathedral, which you can view through a telescope that is conveniently provided at King Henry’s mound), the Richmond Park playground, and hundreds of free-roaming red and fallow deer.
The colours at this time of year at Isabella Plantation are exquisite. It is honestly one of the most uplifting places I’ve ever visited, and has the impressive ability to be simultaneously beautifully kept and cultivated, while still looking quite natural and wild. There is also good signage within the plantation, so if you keep an eye out you shouldn’t get too terribly lost! There are many benches and logs to sit on, if you or the kids need a little rest.
I took my 2 year old there on a whim this week, as we had a morning free. We parked at the Broomfield car park, from which the entrance to Isabella Plantation is a 5-10 minute walk (I recommend bringing the buggy (or sling) if little one is easily tired!) There is a refreshments stand in this car park, where I noticed you can buy drinks including coffees, and ice creams.
We wandered aimlessly along a beautiful flower-festooned path and eventually came to the other end of Isabella, where there is a large pond with ducks and geese called Peg’s Pond and another entrance gate. There is a helpful map (pictured below) and public toilets here. Just outside the gate there is a disabled persons parking area for those who require it. We then headed back along a parallel path, which breaks away, opening onto Stills pond which is just absolutely stunning. There were several people here taking photographs and even painting with watercolours. But in most of Isabella Plantation on a Tuesday morning we very much felt we had the place to ourselves, taking in the scenery.
We then walked along some smaller paths, which took us back to Peg’s pond. I hadn’t realised we were going in a circle! I am directionally challenged to say the least. I managed to then get my bearings and take us to the fabulous Thomson pond, where our kids have always enjoyed the stepping stones, visiting the ducks, and having a little picnic. There is a big grassy space here to set up a picnic blanket and have a run around.
This time we were lucky enough to see a family of ducklings! My toddler was absolutely thrilled.
Such a beautiful spot!
If you’re in the area you might like to check out Petersham nurseries which is nearby. Here’s my review of our tasty meal there!