It’s just one of those things: when you’re walking in one of London’s huge parks, you think of all the people who have been here before you, and it always turns my mind to the days when people got around on horseback. I’ve always wanted to ride a horse around Hyde Park or Richmond Park, and it’s actually not that difficult to organize. Many stables offer riding lessons for both adults and children, intensive learn-to-ride-in-a-day courses, and also morning and afternoon ‘hacks’ which are a ride around the park for those who have been on a horse before.
1) Royal Richmond Park
This park is 2,360 acres of wilderness full of deer and squirrel, rabbits and birds. There are roads going through it, but with strict speed limits, and there are huge areas with no road traffic at all. There are quite a few different gates into the park and riding stables located near many of them. Kingston Riding Centre is located near Kingston Gate. Stag Lodge Stables is near Robin Hood Gate.
2) Wimbledon Common
With 1,140 acres of common parkland area, this was not a royal hunting ground but was set aside for the use of the public. Ridgeway Stables in Wimbledon Village is close to the common, as is Wimbledon Village Stables.
3) Hyde Park
There are five miles of riding trails in Hyde Park including the famous Rotten Row, where people have ridden out for over 300 years. Hyde Park Stables and Ross Nye Stables offer lessons and rides in the park.
Most of these huge parks – known as the Lungs of London – only exist because kings and queens wanted places they could go and hunt deer. We’ve dropped the hunting part, but we can still go for a good horse-ride.