Book 1 Walk 18 variation – Sunningdale to Staines via Runnymede
Length: 17km (10.6 miles) Toughness: 2/10 10.09
Reading train from Waterloo
(Vauxhall 10:13, Clapham Junction 10:19) arriving at Sunningdale
. Buy an off-peak day return to Sunningdale, which is three stops beyond Staines.
There are five return trains an hour from Staines to Waterloo, the fastest being at xx:11 and xx:41.
Some SWC walkers have already visited the splendid Magna Carta exhibition at the British Library, and this walk offers an opportunity to visit the place where the momentous meeting between King John and the barons took place on 15 June 1215. On the 800th anniversary itself a major celebratory event will be held on Runnymede meadows, where King John put his seal to the charter. But the celebrations commence in the days leading up to Monday’s event, and you’ll be able to view the river pageant which arrives at Runnymede on Sunday afternoon.
In the morning the route follows the Book 1 Sunningdale to Windsor walk, but after lunch at the Savill Garden Restaurant it diverts to head directly down to the Thames at Runnymede, before following the Thames Path downstream to Staines. It would also be possible to follow the Thames Path in the opposite direction to reach Windsor, but the station there is on a different line, requiring an extra rail ticket, so it is simpler to head for Staines, which is on the same line as Sunningdale.
As well as the usual lunch stop at the Savill Garden Restaurant
, the diverted route passes a nearby pub, The Sun Inn
(01784 432515), which could be an option for those who prefer a pub lunch. Please ring the pub when you get off the train to let them know how many walkers to expect. Two recent walkers reported having an unsatisfactory meal there, in terms of both quality and quantity, but the kitchen might have been having an off day, so it would be good to have more reports before dismissing it as an option.
During the weekend a River Relay
consisting of about 200 boats will transport a facsimile of Magna Carta down the Thames, with stops en route. The flotilla will be passing Runnymede meadows in the early afternoon of Sunday, with the main flotilla reaching the Runnymede Pleasure Ground at 14:45 and the Queen’s Row Barge ‘Gloriana’ arriving at 15:15. There a re-enactment of the sealing of Magna Carta will take place as part of an all-day Pageant.
The Pageant is a ticketed event which will necessitate the temporary closure of a section of the Thames Path that runs round the edge of the site. At this point the path will be diverted for about 600 metres to go along the A308, where there is no footpath. At the RCDC sign turn left for 150 metres, following a public bridleway sign, to regain the riverside path, where you turn right.
For the morning route you will need to take either Book 1 or the online Walk Directions
. The afternoon route can be downloaded here