Richmond Park is a park, a National Nature Reserve, a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Area of Conservation in south-west London. The largest of London’s Royal Parks it is included, at Grade I, on English Heritage‘s Register of Historic Parks and Gardens of special historic interest in England. It was created by Charles I in 1634 as a deer park and now has 630 red and fallow deer.
Richmond Park is enclosed by a high wall with several gates. The gates either allow pedestrian and bicycle access only, or allow bicycle, pedestrian and other vehicle access. The gates for motor vehicle access are open only during daylight hours, and the speed limit is 20 mph. Apart from taxis, no commercial vehicles are allowed unless they are being used to transact business with residents of the park.
The shared use cycle/footpath, between Roehampton Gate and Sheen Gate, crosses Beverley Brook amid willows
The gates open to motor traffic are: Sheen Gate, Richmond Gate, Ham Gate, Kingston Gate, and Roehampton Gate.
There is pedestrian and bicycle access to the park 24 hours a day except when there is a deer cull. During the deer cull the majority of the gates are locked and warning signs are displayed forbidding access to the park under the orders of The Secretary of State. Warning signs are normally displayed a month before the deer cull occurs.
The park has designated bridleways and cycle paths. These are shown on maps and notice boards displayed near the main entrances, along with other regulations that govern use of the park. The bridleways are special in that they are for horses (and their riders) only and not open to other users like normal bridleways. Cycling is allowed only on main roads and on the Tams in Trail (the shared-use pedestrian cycle path that runs close to the park’s perimeter).
As the park is a National Nature Reserve and a Site of Special Scientific Interest, all dog owners are required to keep their dogs under control while in the park. This includes not allowing their dog to disturb other park users or disrupt wildlife. In 2009, after some incidents leading to the death of wildfowl, the park’s dogs on leads policy was extended. Park users are said to believe that the deer are feeling increasingly threatened by the growing number of dogs using the parkland Royal Parks advises against walking dogs in the park during the deer’s birthing season.