Health and happiness

The benefits of walking are well-documented, and the Crouch End and District U3A is doing its best to provide a range of walking opportunities, combining exercise and good company, while discovering more about your city. Here, for example, is an account of a recent walk enjoyed by members of the newly formed Middle Way Walkers group.

The inaugural Middle Way walk (a Richmond Park circular) was greeted with a beautiful and warm, partly cloudy day. Five new walkers and nine regular walkers met outside Richmond Station to start the walk toward the Thames. Upon reaching the river we turned left to walk along the Thames path, enjoying the boat houses, boats and people along the way. Before reaching Marble Hill, we turned away from the Thames to head through fields, paths and woodland and, after passing Ham Commons, we turned to enter the park through a rather elegant Park Gate. We headed gently uphill enjoying the lovely green park and occasional deer until we turned right to reach Isabella Plantation.

We took twenty minutes to explore the stunning plants, flowers, ponds, streams, ducklings, bridges, and secret gardens and we all felt we could have spent much more time taking in all the beauty. We exited reluctantly out of Broomhill Gate and vowed to return. (We wondered how the name came about and thought it might be the wife or Spanish mistress of the first plantation owner. I’m afraid the most likely explanation is that Isabella is a corruption of the word “isabel” which means dingy or greyish yellow – the colour of the soil in that part of Richmond Park.) After leaving the plantation, we continued downhill until we reached Robin Hood Gate where we ate our packed lunches while relaxing on logs. We then continued and once again climbed up a gentle hill to follow alongside woodland and between two pretty lakes.

When we reached Pembroke Lodge, the highest point in Richmond Park, we entered the grounds to a spectacular viewing spot looking out over London and beyond. (Someone thought we were looking at the North Downs in the distance.) We drank in the view and headed out of the grounds downhill until we reach Richmond Gate. We happily returned to the station, stopping first for refreshments and reflection on a delightful inaugural Middle Way walk.

If you would like to join us on our next walk (along the Thames Path from Hampton Court on June 20) why not join the Group and stretch your legs?

▪︎ How to join the Middle Way Walkers Group