Dicing with death in Richmond Park

The day before yesterday, I had a day off and decided I was going to do an epic trip around some of London’s open spaces.

I started the day by watching the Olympic torch pass by. While I didn’t feel especially excited, I thought that in the spirit of Getting Excited About Stuff (a challenge I set myself a little while back), it might be good fun. And sure enough, it was. The build up took a while, one convoy came, then some motorbikes, then some running people. It went on and on. And by the time came, I barely had time to take one, slightly rubbish, photo and then it was gone.

image

It was fun though, and the atmosphere was lively.

Then I headed up to Richmond Park to start a walk which also took in Putney Heath and Wimbledon Common. As I came out of the Roehampton Gate of the park, I managed to catch this amazing picture of a butterfly on a flower.

image

I went to university in Roehampton so was back on familiar ground as I followed the road toward Putney Heath. I couldn’t resist popping up the little high street to a place called Dong Phuong’s, which we ordered from with such regularity that they didn’t even ask our address when we ordered anymore. O, the junk-food-related memories…

Next I was on Putney Heath and starting to feel the heat. I rifled through my bag and came up with some Body Shop body butter so slathered myself in it and hoped for the best. It didn’t have any sunblocking qualities. It was just moisturiser. But it was the best I had.

I fought my way through thick foliage…

image

…until I suddenly stumbled onto an open playing field and a beautiful little hidden country pub called The Telegraph.

image

From here it was a short walk to go under the motorway and on the other side I was greeted by Wimbledon Common and a beautiful pond, called King’s Mere. Virginia Woolf apparently called this end of the Common, ‘the bleak end.’ Now I don’t know Miss Woolf personally but I would argue that the bleakness was maybe not in the Common but in herself because this end of the Common is fabulous. It’s a riot of overgrown trees and paths. Everywhere I stepped, wildlife teemed. It was on this stretch that I saw two rabbits, a mother and ducklings, could hear the constant sound of birds and lots of dog walkers wandering about too. Not bleak at all.

This was my view during my Chocolate Stop (I was walking this one alone so was allowed a Chocolate Stop whenever I wanted).

image

From here I walked toward Putney Vale Cemetery, which was essentially overflow, when all the church graveyards nearby were too full. At the end of this was a war memorial and some rugby grounds and that’s when I started getting hot again. The sun was out full blast. No clouds, just raw, untarnished, skin-cancer-inducing sun. I’d been shaded by trees for most of my walk until now. But as I crossed over the road and re-entered Richmond Park by the Robin Hood Gate, I started to worry and applied a second layer of my verging-on-useless body butter.

As I struck out across country, trying to get through the park as quickly as possible, I found myself with zero tree cover and started to regret my decision to wear jeans. Hotter and hotter, I got. I started to wonder if it was possible to die of heat in England. My water supply was rapidly diminishing and suddenly… I was in the middle of a group of extremely threatening looking deer with massive antlers!

Shit! How had that happened? Was I in such a heat daze that I hadn’t noticed them? I stopped…. They were heading straight to me…. I wasn’t terrified as such but I was quite nervous!

I started to edge sideways into the long grass and crouch slightly, trying to become invisible. Then I worried that they might think I was crouching ready to attack so I stood up tall again. They split and started walking either side of me. So close!

image

They kept walking a few steps, looking at me, going again, stopping to look… Etc. It went on for what felt like ages until they were eventually all on one side of me. I carefully edged away from them, the deer looking back at me threateningly all the while. After about ten minutes of creeping and trying look as inconspicuous as possible, I continued on my path, heart racing. It was all very exciting/nerve-racking.

Shortly after this, because I had gone into the long grass, I stumbled across some mushrooms and was beyond tempted to take one home and cook it! I didn’t though, because I have no idea about which mushrooms are safe to eat.

image

It wasn’t long after this that I reached Richmond Gate, my start point, and some trees to hide my burning shoulders under. I think I might wait until late afternoon next time I want to do a five hour trek in the open!

Lessons I have learned from this walk = don’t wear jeans on a long walk, always carry suncream, make sure the t-shirt you catch a tan in, is pretty much the same shape of most of your other t-shirts. I am suffering the teasing of having an odd shaped tan at the moment.

image

10 responses to this post.

  1. Holy cow, you saw a little of everything all in one day.

    Reply

  2. Posted by Alex Jones on July 27, 2012 at 10:20

    What an adventure! Glad you survived the deer to tell the tale.

    Reply

    • It was a close call, Alex. I know deer aren’t well known for attacking people but there’s always a first time for everything. I was holding my water bottle ready to fight if I had to.

      Reply

  3. […] fair share of whooping and running around to see the women’s bike ride in Richmond Park (no near-death experiences with deer this […]

    Reply

  4. […] fair share of whooping and running around to see the women’s bike ride in Richmond Park (no near-death experiences with deer this […]

    Reply

  5. […] fair share of whooping and running around to see the women’s bike ride in Richmond Park (no near-death experiences with deer this […]

    Reply

  6. Oh dear, what a scary mistake!

    Reply

  7. […] The woods have been carefully managed and have varieties of birds and bugs that are extremely rare in other parts of London, such as stag beetles (also bred with success on Putney Heath, a destination of another of my walks). […]

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: