London Parks Way
Stage 1 Kingston Station to Kingston Bridge 8.8 miles
Route briefly passes through historic Kingston Upon Thames before going through Hampton Court Park before joining the Thames Path and passing Hampton Court. Most of the stage is spent exploring Bushy Park.
Historic Royal Palaces who own Hampton Court have closed access to the grounds for non ticket holders but have allowed access for locals on specified open days. This removes one of the highlights of the walk as there is a need to do a road section instead.
Leave Kingston Station and cross Wood Street at traffic lights. Go ahead into Dolphin Street and continue to Bentalls Centre where Dolphin Street turns sharp right. Turn left along Fife Street. At junction turn right and then turn left along Church Street. Take right fork along to reach Kingston's historic Market Place.
Turn right and then left round the Market Hall and continue to end of market past the "Druid’s Head" pub. Cross Eden Street to reach the Guildhall Complex. Go past the security box where there is the Coronation Stone which was used in the coronation of 6 Saxon Kings. This has been recently restored and now looks quite splendid.
Leave complex and cross road to left of bridge to steps down to river (signposted Hogsmill Valley Path). Go ahead past shops on left to reach River Thames. Turn right and continue to reach Kingston Bridge. Go up steps and turn left to along Clarence Street and cross Kingston Bridge on left hand side providing our first glimpse of the River Thames. Just past war memorial turn left to enter Hampton Court Park (0.9 miles).
Go through kissing gate on left hand side of road. Take path on left to pass between wall on left and brick rotunda (former ice-house) on right. Follow fence until it reaches metalled track. Turn right along track. At junction follow grass track on left uphill, cross path, and join path from left. At signpost for overflow ponds on left cross road on right to reach top of Long Water (there is a good view of Hampton Court Palace in distance) (1.7 miles).
Go along left hand side of Long Water and after about 200 yards turn left to switch to road and you should see the Methuselah Oak on left just before red building. Take grass path on left to reach oak. Take grass track on right hand side of oak in direction of building and continue to road. Turn left and continue on grass track to reach Oak Pond on left. Now take right fork to cross 3 golf fairways and head for gate opposite. Go through Jubilee Gate, opposite Albany pub to exit by Thames (2.5 miles).
Turn right along footpath by Thames towards Hampton Court Bridge passing Hampton Court Palace Gardens with its elaborate golden gates. Continue and at Hampton Court Bridge turn right along Hampton Court Road until reaching Lions Head Gate and Kings Arm Hotel on left. Cross Hampton Court Road at pedestrian crossing to enter Bushy Park (3.4 miles).
Go ahead on grass on left of road towards Arethusa Fountain (sometimes known as Diana Fountain). Keep to the left of the road as it circles clockwise around fountain. Just after crossing two metalled paths the road turns right Turn left to cross grass through trees to reach small concrete dam marking start of Longford River. Take 3rd grass track to right of river and continue towards trees reaching fence. At fence turn right to reach entrance to Woodland Gardens on left (4.0 miles).
Enter and continue on path to cross bridge and pass café and toilets on right. On passing Pleasantry Plantation board fork left and left again to cross bridge. At cross track turn right then take right fork eventually exiting at gate. At cross track turn left to cross red brick bridge. Continue to follow around fence of Woodland Gardens to reach gate on right with notice board (4.7 miles).
Enter and walk half left, heading towards cross track where you turn right past Fisher’s pond on left. Continue around pond passing bridge on right. Pass to left of green triangle and in 50 yards take right fork. At notice board on left turn left to visit Waterhouse Pond. Retrace steps to notice board and turn left to reach Canadian Glade after 30 yards on left. The glade contains totem pole marking Bushy Park's role in hosting a 400 bed Canadian Military Hospital in WW1. At the base of the totem pole is a representation of a killer whale and at the top an eagle.
Continue and take next path on right to cross bridge. Take left fork and take next path on left. Cross bridge to reach notice board for Birch Glade. Go ahead and at grass triangle turn right past pond and continue. Just past notice board you reach an avenue of trees on left. Turn left here to follow river on left (path may be overgrown) eventually exiting Woodland Gardens through 2 gates. Turn left along path. Take left fork and follow fence on left. Enter Upper Lodge Water Gardens by gate. At present these gardens are closed on Mondays (5.7 miles).
Walk round the right hand side of recently restored Upper Lodge Water Gardens and cross bridge on right to visit the Brewhouse. Retrace steps to gate and exit Water Gardens. Go ahead along track and at metalled cross track turn right. At ditch on left turn left with ditch on right to reach Bartons Cottage. Take grass track to right of pond and continue initially to right of stream along clear grass track eventually passing Bushy House on left to reach road and continue along road to cross Chestnut Avenue (7.2 miles).
In the distance through the trees can be spotted a white flagpole. This is the site of the Eisenhower Memorial on the site of the tent where Eisenhower planned the D Day landings. A few yards to the left is the US Air Force Memorial. These memorials are not part of the route but can be visited as an interesting detour.
Turn right and head for first set of white railings on left. Take path to right of railings. At car park cross bridge and take left path to pass Heron Pond on left until reaching river on right where path on right of river should be taken. Opposite bridge on left just before Leg of Mutton Pond turn half right on green path towards cricket ground (8.2 miles).
Pass cricket ground on left. Go through gate in corner and continue along Church Grove Passage to exit Bushy Park by gate. Cross Church Grove and turn right. At junction turn left. At White Hart Hotel cross road on right at traffic lights and continue over left hand side of Kingston Bridge (8.8 miles).
Instructions to reach Kingston Station are:
Turn left at end of Kingston Bridge. Then cross road on right at traffic lights. Go ahead along Clarence Street. The road veers left opposite red phone box sculpture. Just before reaching the station The KingsTun pub (Wetherspoons) does reasonably priced food and drink. There are also a number of riverside pubs that do excellent but pricier refreshments