Hampton Court to Richmond

Two palaces, two pubs and two remarkable women

A favourite walk bookended by the imposing Hampton Court Palace at the start and the bare remains of the gateway to Richmond Palace at the end. Scullers, paddleboards, kayaks and assorted riverine activity along the way. A detour to the quiet interior of Hampton Court Park, where deer amble and veteran plane trees doze contentedly.  After Teddington Lock, and possibly a pub lunch, a short detour through meadows with grand houses on either side draws you into the chi-chi delights of downtown Richmond.

Route Summary

Easy/Moderate / 5 out of 10

7.8 miles / 12.5 kilometres

OS Urban Map Walk London

Dog Friendly


How to get here


Eat and drink

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The Thames Path

The Thames Path

‘Walking the Thames Path’ – all 224 miles of it – has become a bit of a ‘thing’ over the last few decades so, if you haven’t actually done it, here’s a chance to do a short section and earn the right to bore those eager to bore you with tales of which paths they’ve ‘done’>>

Home Park and The Long Water

The Long Water

The Long Water – with its double row of lime trees – is an impressive, eye-catching water feature, completed in 1660 by King Charles II as a wedding present to his bride-to-be, Catherine of Braganza>>

Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace

In 1515 Cardinal Thomas Wolsey aimed to build a Palace so sumptuous it would not only impress the King but draw monarchs from across Europe>>

Ham Lands Meadows

Ham Lands

This 72-hectare nature reserve lies in the bend of the River Thames between Richmond and Kingston. The site is a mix of habitats: woodland, scrub, grassland and wetlands>>

Ham House

Ham House

Earl Dysart had this impressive pile built in 1610 – it was a payoff for an unusual debt of gratitude owed by Prince Charles, the King’s son, his childhood friend>>

Marble Hill House

Marble Hill House

Explore the story of the remarkable Henrietta Howard who escaped debt, disgrace and a brutal marriage to build this impressive 18th Century society house>>

Route Map

No map needed as the walk follows the signposted Thames Path all the way.

Begin Walk

Start: Hampton Court Station


On leaving Hampton Court station, cross over the river; arriving on the far side swing an immediate right on to the Thames Path.  Follow this east (river on your right) for about 20 -25 minutes. This is your general direction all day, crossing the river just once at Kingston.


You will now follow the river until, after about 10 minutes or so, you encounter a quirky round brick tower directly on the path about 10 feet high with a ‘concrete sombrero’ (it’s a ventilation shaft) and is unmissable.

You can continue on from here to Kingston or, for some lovely ‘off-piste’ walking, go through the nearby gate (Ditton Gate), visible to your left here, into Hampton Court Park (also known as Home Park).

The following instructions take this route through Home Park to The Long Water.  They may seem elaborate but in fact reduce to this: Follow the path, parallel to the Thames, inside Hampton Court Park then several hundred metres later turn diagonally gently left into the park and an obvious pond (often used for model boating), just ahead, and from there to The Long Water.


Route through the Park in more detail…

Follow the path closest to the metal fence running parallel and close to the Thames Path directly onwards.  Ignore the obvious track leading away from you between parallel lines of small trees.  Instead, looking along the line of the riverside fence, look for the old paddock and wooden fence ahead of you in a few hundred metres.

After about 100m your ‘parallel path’ will swing left, round and onwards past the old paddock with a wooden fence and a lovely collection of the remains of fallen ancient trees which if it were an installation in the Hayward Gallery might attract a grant.



Exit the paddock under lines of small trees and continue on.  In a few minutes you will pass a red brick golf club building on your left.


Contninue for another couple of hundred metres, then look ahead to your left where you will see a small boating pond and a sign board.  Wander across in the direction of the sign board then, keeping the boating pond on your left, follow the line of a narrow roadway heading into the Park and, after about 200m, towards the impressive view of the Long Water (views back towards Hampton Court Palace).

If you’re lucky the fountains might be pluming refreshing (or gaspingly chilly, depending on the time of year) sprays skywards.

On the opposite side of the road behind you, you’ll see another more secluded pond with shelter and willows – its tranquil atmosphere is easy to overlook.


Having finished admiring the distant posh abode, your intention is to pick up your previous direction onwards to Kingston.

So, from Long Water, turn round facing the tranquil pond, cross the road, and take the obvious diagonal (direction 10 o’clock) foot path to your left across the wide meadow towards the far corner. You should see a pale coloured, angular apartment block in the far distance. Aim for this across the wide meadow with, on a good day, a canopy of glorious open sky.


After about 10 minutes you will reach the corner of Hampton Court Park. Just before you leave the park you will encounter majestic ageing plane trees, a writhing old ash tree and an ancient icehouse (with information on the door). The relaxed trees look how plane trees should look when they are not being cropped and shorn on London streets. Don’t they look happy?


Leave the park, turn right to cross Kingston Bridge and, on reaching the far side of the foot/bikeway, take the pedestrian steps down to the river.

There are several places for a coffee break here lining the river.


To continue the walk, carry on under the bridge. As soon as you pop out under the bridge take a look, 20m on your right, at the back of the John Lewis store: a mediaeval cellar.

Continue on this riverside path through Canbury Gardens (300m away) .

Emerge from this park and keep following the river direction along a narrow road – residential on the right – usually populated with walkers and cyclists, to return to the Thames Path track after about 10 minutes.


Taking the left path (avoiding the cyclists on the right, higher path) continue on this riverside path for about another 30 minutes to reach moored boats and the thunderous welcome of Teddington Lock.

Optional lunch stops lie on the far side of the blue footbridge on the northern bank: The Anglers in front of you and the bijou Tide End Cottage just next to it on the street.  (See link below).

Picnics can be based at the Lock Keeper’s Cottage on a separate mini-island further ahead (without crossing the footbridge).


After lunch, return to the path to follow the river onwards. After about 10 minutes cross a rough metalled ‘bridge’ with a children’s boating marina to your right.

Directly after this you have 2 options:

Option one – continue on the path to Richmond.  To do this simply carry straight on following the river all the way.  The trees on your right will eventually give way to Petersham Meadows and views up to the grand villas of Richmond Hill.  Then go to Step 14.

Option two – take a wander in the bucolic open meadows of Ham Lands.  The following instructions take this route.  (See link below for the surprising explanation of how this wild floral haven came to be so diverse).


Thirty metres past the marina view you will see a path bearing diagonally to your right taking you into Ham Lands Meadows. If you have time and want to explore, take the path off and after 80m you will emerge into an open meadow. There are several paths available to you but I suggest that you take any path which keeps the line of trees that border the Thames, within sight, on your left. As long as you keep these as your guideline you will pass through several meadows to eventually emerge, after about 20 minutes, back on the Thames Path.

Don’t worry if you get lost because the Thames Path is easily found again by returning back the way you came or just bearing left on skimpy tracks through the trees.


You will eventually emerge on to a wide sports pitch where, following the left edge, you emerge at a car park with the Thames on your left.

You may see the tiny Hambleton boat ferry taking you on an optional excursion to the other side of the river – from where it is possible to carry on to reach Richmond.  Assuming that you are continuing without crossing over…


Whichever of the two walking options you have taken (through Ham Lands or just following the Thames Path) now continue on to Richmond Bridge, about 25 minutes away, passing Ham House on your right. (See link for the curious tale of the King’s whipping boy and the canny daughter who played a dangerous game and won it all).


Just past Ham House on the opposite bank, you’ll see a large white residence: the Palladian splendour of Marble Hill House(See link below for the intriguing history behind its creation and the life of its first owner Henrietta Howard).

Note, as you reach Petersham Meadows on the edge of Richmond, depending on tides and rainfall, the path can flood amazing quickly. To avoid soggy socks you may have to detour into the wood edge on your right and/or behind the low wall protecting Petersham Meadows. On occasion I have had to follow the road route from Petersham into Richmond – all well signposted. The river in full flood is quite a spectacle.


As you reach the bustling bars and cafes of Richmond, pass under the old river bridge, going past (or even into should the mood take you) the large riverside pub – The White Cross.


Continue on for 200m past little arcades set in arches on your right.  At the end of the arches, you will see a little road way on your right, Friars Lane ,which will briefly wind up and round to take you to Richmond Green.

NB if you have time, directly to your left tucked away near the corner of the Green is the remnant of the gateway to Richmond Palace, where Elizabeth I – the third in our trio of remarkable women – lived and died.  (See link below for an account of Elizabeth’s stubborn last stand at Richmond Palace).


Go straight ahead across Richmond Green and its idyllically placed cricket pitch, heading for the far right hand corner, to the Richmond Theatre. Continue on past the Richmond Theatre for another hundred metres or so when you will see a small alleyway to your right, Old Station Approach.

Take this alleyway to Richmond station directly opposite.

Browse more walks…

Lucky you. I’ve walked several thousand miles of footpaths and city streets to distil out a choice selection of rambles for everyone to enjoy. There is no way of knowing whether a walk is worth doing except by walking the route every step of the way; a lot of terrible walks, dull vistas, and frankly boring trudges have been endured and discarded. Lucky me, I love walking and being outside so it’s all been worth it. I hope you can find the time to explore a route or two.

"Everywhere is within walking distance if you create the time..."

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No 2 : Hampton Court to Richmond


A favourite walk bookended by the imposing Hampton Court Palace and the bare remains of Richmond Palace, along the Thames path and through diverse parks and meadows...

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No 3 : Three London Parks


Easy walking, people-watching in the parks, and chi-chi 'villages' ending on the splendid views and rambling of Hampstead Heath...

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A longer cousin of Walk No. 6, this route follows the lovely Darenth Valley on its western slopes and returns along the valley bottom. A landscape of hills, open views and a riverine return with a choice of picnic, pub or vineyard for the lunch stop...

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No 9 : Guildford St Martha's Church Circular

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No 10 : Greenwich to London Bridge via Limehouse & Wapping


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