A walk through Hyde Park for National Walking Month

Christine Kapak
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How do you usually spend your Sundays? Traditionally, Sundays are a perfect time to fit in a relaxing walk before tucking into a huge roast lunch with all the trimmings. So with May being National Walking Month, we could find no better excuse for a Sunday walk with friends.
Four of us from the UNISONProtect team went on a personal challenge to celebrate National Walking Month - the aim was walk around a park for at least 3 miles and end up in a nice pub with an open garden for spot of lunch and a pint.

Sounds good? Challenge accepted!

We live in London which is home to hundreds of parks. We were spoiled for choice so we chose Hyde Park as it is one of the most central parks in London (and easy to get to).

Hyde Park is one of the eight largest Royal Parks in London. Covering 350 acres with over 4,000 trees, it is home to famous landmarks including the Serpentine Lido and the Diana Memorial Fountain and other monuments. It borders Kensington Park as well, so we walked there too.

Lucky for us, the weather was really hot! Covered from head to toe in sun protection lotion, we hoped for some interesting sights to see and the park truly delivered on that. Read on to see what we saw in the park… 

Combined Cavalry Old Comrades’ Association Parade

Just as we set out, some men dressed in smart city suits and bowler hats walked into Hyde Park. What was happening?!

Turns out the spectacle, by Apsley Gate, was to mark Cavalry Sunday, an annual parade of the Combined Cavalry Old Comrades' Association where serving and former Cavalrymen pay tribute to those who were killed on active service.

According to tradition, officers wear dark suits, regimental ties - and bowler hats. And, whatever the weather, their umbrellas remain closed. Luckily for these officers, the weather was perfect – not a cloud in the sky.

Serpentine Lido

A lido is a public open-air swimming pool or beach. And on a day like this, it was so tempting to dip our feet in the water and relax in a deck chair!

According to the Telegraph, the Serpentine Lido is one of London’s best outdoor swimming pools and a great place for adults and children alike to splash around and enjoy the water. Situated in the heart of Hyde Park, you’ll also find the Lido Café Bar, plus a nearby playground, paddling pool and deck chairs.

The Serpentine Swimming Club is one of the oldest swimming clubs in Britain. They swim in the lido every morning between 6 and 9:30. There’s even a 91m ‘Peter Pan Cup’ race on Christmas Day. You definitely have to be hardy to swim in the lido on a winter’s Christmas day! 

Diana Memorial Fountain

Opened by Her Majesty The Queen in 2004, this tranquil fountain celebrates the life of Diana, Princess of Wales, who infamously died in a car crash in 1997.

The monument takes the form of a low oval stone shallow stream fountain built with 545 pieces of Cornish granite. Visitors are welcome to sit on the edge of the Memorial and to refresh their feet.

The Arch

In the distance we spotted this intriguing-looking object. It’s a 6m high Roman travertine sculpture positioned on the north bank of the Long Water. It weighs a total of 37 tonnes.

Speke Monument

Designed by Phillip Hardwick, designer of the original Euston Railway Station, the Speke Monument is a red granite statue dedicated to John Hanning Speke, the explorer who discovered Lake Victoria and led expeditions to the source of the Nile.

Queen Victoria Statue

Unfortunately Prince William and Princess Kate weren’t at Kensington Palace today, so we couldn’t pop in for a cuppa and a look around, so we made do with a walk outside in the gardens.

Outside Kensington Palace stands an intricate statue of Queen Victoria. It was sculpted by her daughter, Princess Louise (Duchess of Argyll), in 1893 and shows Victoria in her coronation robes in 1837 at the age of 18.

The Peter Pan Statue

Next, children's book classic Peter Pan made an appearance on our walk. Just by chance, we were lucky to get a picture without a bevy of children climbing on this statue!

Author J.M. Barrie commissioned Sir George Frampton to build this statue in 1902. You can find it in Kensington Gardens, next to Hyde Park, to the west of the Long Water. On the pedestal of the bronze statue, you'll spot all sorts of creatures, from squirrels to rabbits, climbing up to Peter, who sits at the top.

Italian Gardens

Our final landmark!

If this view looks familiar you've probably seen it already on the big screen! It's been used as a location in several films, including the romantic comedy ‘Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason’.

You can find it at the head of the Long Water, the river that flows through Kensington Gardens into Hyde Park where it becomes The Serpentine.

Created in the 1860s, the Italian Gardens is an ornamental water fountain inspired by Renaissance Italy. It is believed to have been created under the instruction of Prince Albert as a romantic gesture to his beloved Queen Victoria.


And we did it! We achieved our objective. According to our pedometer we circled the park for 3.43 miles in 1 hour 41 minutes - not bad for a Sunday morning stroll! Naturally we treated ourselves to a well-earned burger and pint in the park before we went our separate ways. Yummy!

Here’s what we say about Hyde Park: All in all this was a lovely leisurely three mile walk where we could escape the hustle and bustle of central London. It’s the perfect place for a history lesson. The park is huge - there were so many more things to do and see and we could’ve happily stayed in the park all day!

The park is really easy to get to, thanks to the London Underground. If you’re planning to make a day of it, Hyde Park has plenty of cafes, restaurants and kiosks – it’s also great for a picnic. If you feel sporty, you can swim, boat, cycle, play tennis or badminton and go horse riding in the park. And if you fancy a bit of shopping, Harrods and Kensington High Street are close by.

To plan your trip to Hyde Park, visit this link.

Have you got a favourite walk you'd like to share with others? Tell us in the comments below...

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