Welcome to Twickenham and Richmond: the heart of English rugby! It’s no wonder RWC 2015 final happens here, since with its 82,000 seats, Twickenham Stadium is the mother of all rugby venues. During RWC 2015, as a ticket-holder you have exclusive access to the World Rugby Museum in the stadium on match days. Make sure you arrive here well before your game starts to get the full rugby experience. But besides sports, you can enjoy culture, nature and revitalising River Thames activities in the area. Here are some tips for an inspiring day around London’s rugby epicentre.
After you’ve fuelled up on your morning lattes, you and your friends arrive at Richmond Park at mid-morning. You stroll around the city’s biggest park. It’s so vast and green you almost forget you’re still in London. While you discuss last night’s match, you hear a loud noise in the distance. Curiously you all walk towards it and gasp when you see two male deer clashing antlers. Over 650 wild deer roam freely around Richmond Park, and you’ve caught them in their breeding season. After the excitement of the rutting deer, you climb King Henry’s Mound and look through the telescope for a rare, uninterrupted view of St. Paul’s Cathedral 10 miles away.
You’re getting hungry, so you make your way to a Bavarian outdoor restaurant you’ve heard about called Stein’s for an al fresco lunch. It’s still a little early for a hand-pulled Munich beer, but it’s exactly the right time for traditional German sausages that come with sauerkraut and creamy potato mash, which is so good you could be in Bavaria. You enjoy your meals at your riverside table and watch boats, kayaks, and canoes go by. One of your friends suggests you hire a canoe after lunch, but you all agree it might be too energetic after all those sausages!
After lunch, you take a short walk to Thames River Boats on Richmond Pier and buy tickets for the next boat trip. Along the way, you’re amazed by all the local wildlife. You see two beautiful swans, dozens of herons, and some cute ducklings swimming merrily in the water. And what’s that lively chatter in the air? You look up and are surprised to see a flock of tropical green parakeets fly just over your heads.
You step off at Kew Pier to visit Kew Gardens, the world’s biggest botanic garden. You feel adventurous and decide to climb the 118 steps of the 18-metre high Treetop Walkway. Halfway up you wonder if you should have taken the lift, remembering the sausages and mash from earlier, but you are rewarded with a truly wondrous view at the top. It’s an unbeatable feeling, standing amongst the treetops!
You end your day with a visit to Strawberry Hill, novelist Horace Walpole’s extravagant 18th-century villa and inspiration for The Castle of Otranto, the first Gothic novel. You marvel at this extravagant piece of architecture with its elaborate woodcarvings on the walls and kitsch gold ornaments. It is a truly exceptional end to a diverse day of River Thames activities in rugby territory.