WONDERFUL WALKS IN WINDSOR
History, hunting grounds, heavenly views – this fabulous area is perfect for perambulating!
You might think Windsor is too busy to have good walking or cycling, but think again… with its impressive Norman Castle, extensive parkland and the wider Royal County of Berkshire you have access to some of the most interesting and beautiful places in Britain. If you have a luxury lodge at Windsor Marina, it’s all on your doorstep!
The Long Walk from Windsor Castle
The Long Walk is the perfect starter, a must-do which visitors from abroad will love. Undulating away from historic Windsor Castle between a double sweep of chestnut and plane trees, this iconic avenue is two-and-a-half miles long.
Start at the town, and follow in the hoof prints of Royal carriages, up and down the ruler-straight carriageway. Halfway down the tree-lined avenue you’ll come to a good place for a picnic, by the magnificent statue of the Copper Horse, a memorial to King George III.
Retracing your steps back through the park, look out for the herds of red deer that have roamed the area since the Middle Ages when Windsor Great Park was a hunting ground.
As you draw nearer to Windsor, the Castle looms ever larger, a building of spectacular proportions on the skyline. Back in Windsor, refuel in one of the town’s tearooms and take time to explore the castle and its surrounds.
Windsor Great Park lakes
Extending over 5,000 acres, Windsor Great Park is crisscrossed with miles of pathways that lead through gardens, woodland, tree-lined avenues and along lakes.
This eight-mile walk circumnavigates two of the park’s lakes. There’s plenty of interest along the way, from a cascading waterfall to a totem pole and towering obelisk.
Park on Wick Lane and continue to Savill Garden, a delightful combination of semi-wild woodlands and landscaped gardens. One particularly delightful rose garden was opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 2010. Meander through the ancient royal hunting grounds then head south to the Cumberland Obelisk and continue along Rhododendron Ride. Follow the path along the south and west side of Obelisk Pond and on through the Royal Landscape.
Take the tarmac road south to reach Virginia Water. Follow the waterside east along the edge of Valley Gardens, then continue along the south shore, where you can detour to the Belvedere Arms for lunch.
Finally, head north-east to cut across a northern arm of Virginia Water and take a right turn to meet the Rhododendron Ride again. From there, you can retrace your steps to Wick Lane.
A walk to ‘Downton Abbey’
This ten-mile walk takes in the estate of Highclere Castle – better known to fans of period drama as Downton Abbey.
The walk straddles the counties of Hampshire and Berkshire, finishing in the estate of Berkshire’s famous stately home. From the car park below Beacon Hill, start your walk by tackling the climb up to the Iron Age hill fort with great views over Highclere Castle estate and the Berkshire countryside. Lord Carnarvon of Highclere Castle is buried here.
Return to the car park and cross the bridge over the A34. Cross the road and follow the fingerpost to the village of Old Burghclere. Take the northbound road to join a track on a bend and carry on in the same direction through fields. Take a left turn to join the Brenda Parker Way, winding your way west to the A34 again, then cross another bridge that leads to the entrance of Highclere Castle.
If the castle is open (summer season), it’s worth exploring the 19th century Jacobean house and grounds with its gardens, lakes and woodland trails. Continue along the Brenda Parker Way through Park Dale and Highclere Woods to Highclere Farm, before retracing your steps to Beacon Hill car park.
Cycling in Windsor
Windsor Great Park has over 17 miles of smooth and even paths and roads which are perfect for cyclists. Cars and motorcycles are restricted in the Park. Roads are shared with occasional Estate or Park resident vehicles, pedestrians and horse riders.
The public road around the Park’s perimeter offers multiple access points, and if you enter through Ranger’s Gate, you will join up with the fairly even plains of National Cycle Route 4, which takes you through the Park and brings you to the exit of Bishopsgate, re-joining the public road and Windsor.
Follow this route along the paved path to discover relics of Royal history like Ranger’s Lodge – home of the Deputy Ranger, continuing past the open fields of Poets Lawn. Look out for the impressive sight of the Cumberland Lodge in the distance, at the end of the tree-lined parade – a former residence of members of the Royal Family.
Alternatively, pedal along the heights of Snow Hill as you take in the magnificent sights of Windsor Castle below, and the Copper Horse Statue on high. Then for a shorter cycle, take National Cycle Route 4 back past Poets Lawn to either Cranbourne Gate or Ranger’s Gate, where you can find parking and the public roads surrounding the Park.
The best websites to visit are wanderlust, gps.co.uk, windsorgreatpark.co.uk.