Valley Gardens and Windsor Great Park walk

A forest garden: Azaleas, camellias, magnolias, daffodils, heather. Optionally: Windsor Great Park - Saville Gardens, a deer park, Windsor castle viewpoint.

Length

4 miles (6.6km).

Add 2.3 miles to walk around Virginia Water lake

Add 6 miles for a loop of the deer park (5 miles if parking in Old Windsor)

Toughness 3 out of 10 (hilly)
Features

This is a walk around Valley Gardens (free), part of Windsor Great Park, which has a vast collection of rhododendrons and azaleas, which flower spectacularly in May or June, and a heather garden which flowers during the winter.

The gardens are laid out over a series of low hills, with valleys running north to Virginia Water, an artificial lake.

The suggested car park is at Virginia Water - its a mile or so to a large Totem Pole at the start of Valley Gardens.

This walk may be undertaken all year round and it is relatively mud-free in winter. However, the best time to try it is in mid-May, when the azaleas are in full bloom, and the rhododendrons are coming into flower. Autumn is good for the deer rutting (in the deer park) in October, and the maple's leaf fall

Access: The car park path to Valley Gardens is level with a good path. Valley Gardens itself has a fairly level lake side path (you'd need a powered buggy, or an able assistant), but most of the gardens are undulating. See disabled access.

Virginia Water

Virginia Water is an artificial lake with a forested shoreline. It's long an narrow in an east-west orientation. To the north is Valley Gardens. To the east is the suggested car park. There is a path all the way around it. It starts at the car park, heads to the Totem Pole, goes through Valley Gardens, crosses a bridge, and returns along the southern shore.

Savill Gardens

Valley Gardens are to the west of the Totem Pole, but to the north, paths lead through the forest to Obelisk Pond and the Cumberland Obelisk. Just beyond it is Savill Gardens, a small botanical garden. Entrance is not free, but includes parking which is otherwise very expensive.

There is another park car park here, and a cafe in it's landmark building (you don't have to pay to enter)

Deer Park

Further to the north, is the Rhododendron Ride, Cow Pond, a deer park and the "Copper Horse Statue", on a rise overlooking the "Long Walk" to Windsor castle, and the Long Walk itself.

Note: The Long Walk - the tree lined path from the Copper Horse Statue to Windsor Castle looks very pretty - it is however, very, very long, and gets samey after a while.

Windsor Great Park

The gardens form part of Windsor Great Park. Together with the adjacent Home Park, leading to Windsor castle, it is managed by the Crown Estate (rather than the government's Royal Parks agency). Large areas of the park are private (e.g. Prince Andrew's home, Polo Grounds, All Saints Chapel, Frogmore Cottage, a Royal Mausoleum).

There was a plan by the Crown Estate to enclose Valley Gardens, and charge for entry. They backed down, but the £12 car parking charge is their way around this.

Walk Option
  • Main Walk: Park in the Virginia Water car park, and walk through Valley Gardens
  • Add a loop to the south around Virginia Water lake
  • Add a loop to the north, passing Obelisk Lawn to Savill Gardens (or park there, and walk south to Valley Gardens)
  • Make a much longer loop north, passing Obelisk Lawn, Savill Gardens, the Rhododendron Ride, and Cow Pond to the deer park and Copper Horse Statue viewpoint (or park for free in Old Windsor, and walk south from there)

We have a full walk in this area #cw1.49 Sunningdale (station) - Virginia Water - Valley and Savill Gardens - deer park - then either Long Walk to Windsor (station), or Runnymede and along the River Thames to Staines (station)

Eat
  • There are a couple of tea/coffee points around the park.
  • Valley Gardens: The Bailiwick TW20 OHN, on Wick Lane, is a short walk from the Totem Pole.
  • Polo field : Guard Polo Club Kitchen (Clara's Cocian), TW20 0HP - cafe, open Tue-Sun, summer only
  • Savill Gardens: It's cafeteria, in a landmark building, is spacious but a bit pricey. Open 10am - 5.30pm. You don't have to pay to enter Savill Gardens to use it.
  • Englefield Green: Fox and Hounds (restaurant), TW20 0XU
  • Old Windsor : Several pubs, including The Lock and the Tyne (upmarket), and a little further, a Toby Carvery pub (cheap and cheerful)
Nearby

Runnymede

The Magna Carta was signed at Runnymede Meadows (Wikipedia, National Trust ) where there are several memorials.

There is a smaller site on the east bank of the Thames (also NT: Magna Carta Island and the Ankerwycke Yew) - no nearby bridge or path on the opposite bank - you have to drive

Windsor and its Castle

A historic town and castle 4km north of the Copper Horse Statue

Travel

There are several car parks in Windsor Great Park, which all charge an eye watering £12. Entrance to Savill Gardens in £13.50, but you get your parking refunded.

  • Virginia Water: GU25 4QF
  • Savill Gardens: TW20 0UJ,
  • Valley Gardens: Use either of the above (the Wick Lane car park is for members only).

There is very limited free on street parking nearby

  • a few spaces on the A30 (southbound, GU24 4QB, get there early),
  • a few spaces on Wick Lane near the Baliwick Pub (TW20 OHN), after the members car park
  • street parking in Englefield village (some narrow road walking)
  • street parking in Old Windsor (3 miles away) and walk through the deer park (but handy for the deer park, and copper horse statue viewpoint).
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Version

Jul-21 Andrew

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