We decided to try breakfast in the hotel and were pleasantly surprised to find the Travelodge offerings to be much better than we were expecting. So, feeling nourished, we boarded a main line train from Vauxhall to Richmond, approximately 20 minutes away. As mentioned previously, it’s possible to use Oyster cards on shorter main line train routes and this is more economical than purchasing individual tickets. Richmond can also be reached via the District Line and is the final stop on this route.
Richmond is an elegant town in south west London bordering the river Thames. The town centre is very pleasant and along the riverside you will find fine examples of large Georgian style architecture as well as some attractive bars and restaurants. Taking the Thames Path in either direction is very scenic and we decided to walk towards Richmond Bridge passing more cafes and boat stations along the way. If you have the time to spare and the weather is good, a river cruise can be taken during the summer months, the service running between Westminster Pier, Kew, Richmond and Hampton Court.
After a short distance the path becomes more rural and approaching Petersham Meadows you will notice steps up to the main road. Opposite here are the Terrace Gardens and climbing up the path leads to the top of Richmond Hill. Looking back, there are spectacular views of the Thames, Twickenham Rugby Stadium and Windsor to the far west (it was a gloomy, February morning so my photo doesn’t show it at its best). Nearby are the entrance gates to Richmond Park, the largest of the Royal Parks and a national nature reserve. Deer roam freely in the park but sadly we didn’t come across any as we took a loop walk to the lake. It was bitterly cold and although we enjoyed our morning stroll , we looked forward to warming mugs of hot chocolate back in the town centre.
Next, it was time for a little retail therapy at one of our favourite London shopping destinations, Sloane Square, Chelsea. Most first time visitors head for Oxford Street but it’s always crowded and apart from Selfridges, John Lewis and Marks & Spencer many of the other smaller stores are very touristy.
Sloane Square is the home of the John Lewis Partnership flagship store Peter Jones and walking along the Kings Road you will find a good mix of designer chic and high street favourites. Tucked behind the Kings Road lies Duke of York Square where every Saturday Partridge’s Food Market takes place. It’s a foodies heaven with a mix of local and international food stalls overlooking Partridges food store, one of the only remaining independent grocers still trading in London. Do take a look inside as its an epicurean delight with a wine bar and cafe. Across the square lies the Saatchi Gallery where admission to all exhibitions is free of charge.
After enjoying afternoon tea in Chelsea, we headed back to Piccadilly Circus where we walked along to Trafalgar Square for a look in the National Gallery. We dined near Tower Bridge and after a late evening stroll along the river to London Bridge station we returned to our hotel feeling tired as we had walked almost 13 miles.
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