We’re regular visitors to Richmond Park, but until yesterday we’d never visited Bushy Park – the other walled royal park, this one a little further to the south and west and across the street from Hampton Court, which must have been very convenient for Henry VIII when he used it as a hunting ground.
It’s a more formal park than the managed ‘wilderness’ of Richmond Park, with planted avenues of chestnut and lime trees and centred around a great round pond with an ornate fountain. There’s a woodland garden which snakes alongside a slow and shallow stream. Near the Pheasantry Centre (no pheasants, but a cafe and visitor centre), it was planted with mature bald cypress, one of my favorite tress. We didn’t explore that in full, but I’d love to go back and see that in spring when the rhododendrons and azaleas are in bloom.
For us, we had to first get our heads around the scale of the park. We’re used to the sweeping distances of Richmond Park, and what looked on the map as a long way actually was a short walk. So even taking the long way, getting to the playground took little time.
We walked through a paved avenue of limes. The name of this tree has always confused me. As these trees don’t produce the kind of limes you can put in your margaritas. As I mentioned this to Simon, he said “You mean they don’t make limes?” Umm, no. One wouldn’t really expect citrus to be produced on an island this far to the north. Instead they are this kind.
The playground is vast and well-equipped with swings, climbing frames, a sandpit and all risk appetites are catered for with an array of slides.
Bill immediately ran to the scariest slide of all – a behemoth on which kids could (and did) actually hurt themselves (though not badly – mostly bruised bottoms and bruised pride). He managed it quite well, but an older kid took the slide poorly and landed with a bad thump and there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth. Bill became a bit nervous of the slide after that and demanded that Daddy accompany him.
Overall, with less space and what felt like a more people, the park seemed crowded – at least in comparison to Richmond Park. Both parks have red and fallow deer, but in Bushy Park the deer seem more habituated to humans and we were able to hand feed some young fallow deer. In late July and early August, the male fallow deer are approachable. Because of the dry weather, I suspect there’s less grazing and the deer are hungry. Park visitors were stripping leaves from trees where the deer could not reach, and several of the deer would nibble from your hands. Some of the visitors were a little less respectful than they ought to have been – as deer can be dangerous. Although they were grateful for the leaves, they didn’t like being approached or petted from behind and would startle and jump sometimes perilously close to the person who was feeding them from the front.
I think we will go back to Bushy Park, but we probably won’t make it a regular trip.