The wonderful phrase “The Lungs of London,” describing the green spaces that offer breathing space among the city’s urban sprawl, is attributed to William Pitt the Elder in the 18th Century. It is an evocative expression that has, over the centuries, been used to defend the life-giving green parks and squares against the creep of grey development. One look at the map reveals how splendidly 20 The Barons and Twickenham Bridge are situated between two of the greatest and greenest of those lungs, which open up like butterfly wings to the east and north-east. A brisk 20-minute walk, crossing the Thames at Richmond Bridge, takes you to the fringes of vast green acres that have no equal in London. Walk south-east from the bridge, and Richmond Hill offers you views of the Thames painted by Turner and now preserved by an Act of Parliament. Your path encompasses the award-winning Terrace Gardens and the bucolic serenity of Petersham Meadows before reaching Richmond Gate. Beyond this stretch the 1,000-hectares of Richmond Park. The oldest and largest royal park, this vast wonderland of ancient oaks, deer and scattered ponds was named by Henry VII in the 16th Century and is little changed since Charles I fenced its boundaries in 1637. Alternatively, walk north from Richmond Bridge to reach Richmond Green, regarded by some as the most beautiful urban green in England. It was originally a Tudor jousting ground, before cricket became the sport of choice in 1650, and it is fringed with labyrinthine passages that hide such delights as the Old Palace Yard. Continue north, and you reach the Old Deer Park, where the acres designed by Capability Brown include footpaths, tow-path, the Royal Mid Surrey Golf Course and the King’s Observatory, stretching all the way to the botanical wonders of Kew Gardens.