A romantic cycling break in Hampton Court
Favourite palace of King Henry Tudor and his court
Enchanting Hampton Court Palace , with its immaculate grounds and riverside hues, is a magical setting for an active yet romantic break.
Day 1 - Daytrip
In the spirit of Hampton Court’s role as the venue for the Road Cycling Time Trial for the Games, hop on a bike and take a guided cycling tour from leafy Richmond across to the palace grounds. An easy way to get to Richmond for the start of the tour is on the R68 bus, which goes from Hampton Court station to Richmond centre and takes between 25 and 45 minutes depending on time of day and traffic.
If there are any spare moments before the tour kicks off, a little wander through Richmond’s well-dressed streets and by its bustling riverbank is always a pleasure. Once aboard your bikes, a local guide leads through Bushy Park – once the hunting ground of Henry VIII – where you can spot red and fallow deer roaming amid the greenery.
This huge royal park sits to the north of Hampton Court Palace, and is scattered with woodland and home to the grand Chestnut Avenue and the 17th century Diana Fountain. Here, bikes are disembarked and a scrummy picnic of afternoon tea is laid on for all. A full day’s bike tour from Richmond covers 18km, finishing at Hampton Court at around 4.30pm.
Top tip: Those who fancy a little less cycling and a little more relaxing together at the end can opt for a half day cycling tour instead.
Delve into the life and loves of one of England’s most infamous kings, Henry VIII, with a visit to Hampton Court Palace. Inside this 16th century beauty there is all manner of treasures to behold, from the medieval Great Hall and the authentic Tudor kitchens, to the king’s bedchamber. As well as guided and audio tours, visitors can glimpse another side of this history-laden royal palace with a number of specialist tours – take in far reaching views on a rooftop summer tour, or cuddle up close on an eerie ghost tour.
A staggering 60 acres of manicured gardens and 750 acres of royal parkland sweep from the palace. After a morning’s exploration inside, head out into this well-tended mass of greenery, sprinkled with fountains and clouds of colourful blooms. Bring your own feast for a romantic picnic under an ancient tree. After a lazy lounge in the grounds, there’s the deep green puzzle of the famous maze to contend with. Dating back to the 17th century, this the oldest hedge maze in the world, and more recently the Olympic torch tackled its twists and turns on its journey to the Games.
As daylight fades, head to the Carlton Mitre Hotel , sitting opposite the palace on the edge of the Thames and with tranquil river views a plenty. The Riverside Brasserie serves up hearty dishes including a full Sunday roast, or, for a more amorous ambiance, take a seat at The Riverside Restaurant.
Top tip: Stroll hand in hand through the palace grounds in late March and find a multitude of daffodils transforming the Wilderness area into a sea of gold.
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