5 best walks in Windsor Great Park

by Jan

If you’re planning a visit to the royal town of Windsor, leave some time to explore Windsor Great Park.  This ancient deer park sits just outside the gates of Windsor Castle and is a fantastic outdoor space which is open to the public.  With a varied landscape of parkland, woodland and gardens, there’s no shortage of wonderful walks in Windsor Great Park.

Windsor Great Park is a large royal park on the borders of Surrey and Berkshire in South-East England.  As its name suggests, it’s an exceptionally large park.  In fact, there are over 4800 acres of parkland, which cover very distinct landscapes.  Although you could see it all in one day, most people just head for one area and walk there.

Like many locals, we love spending time in Windsor Park.  In this post we share our five best walks, where to start and what you can expect to see.

Of course, most of the walks in Windsor Park will join with each other, so if you are feeling energetic, visit the whole park.  We’ll sure you’ll love it as much as we do.

If you wish to pay your respects to HM Queen Elizabeth II, you’ll find additional free parking on the A332.  You can then walk down the Long Walk to the gates of Windsor Castle, where you’ll see the floral tributes by the gates. (This will avoid the queues coming in from Windsor town.)

If you are visiting during the national period of royal mourning all of the car parks at Windsor Park are free.

The Long Walk

The Long Walk, Windsor, Berkshire, UK

A tree-lined walk with views of Windsor Castle

The Long Walk is the most iconic of all the walks in Windsor Great Park.  What makes it special, is that the walk leads right up to the gates of Windsor Castle.  Plus, the Long Walk is still the route for many special royal occasions.  The royal family use it for the carriage ride to the nearby Ascot races.  It was also seen worldwide, as the final part of the royal wedding procession at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding.

As its name suggests, it’s a long walk which leads for 2.64 miles from Windsor Castle to the top of Snow Hill.  The route follows a straight, tree-lined avenue leads from the castle gates to the famous Copper Horse statue of King George III.

This route is perfect for new visitors to Windsor or England, as it gives sweeping views looking back over Windsor Castle.  If you are on a day trip from London this is the ideal part of Windsor Park to visit, as you can access it directly from Windsor town centre.

The Long Walk is surfaced, so easy for buggies and scooters.  It is an out and back walk, so you can walk part of it if you have children.

The start of the Long Walk is at the George IV gateway, next to Windsor Castle.  There are several good pubs near here, which you could visit at the start or end of your walk.

Alternatively, you could start at the other end by the Copper Horse and walk down towards Windsor Castle.

You may not cycle on the Long Walk.

The Deer Park

The Deer Park, Windsor Park, Berkshire, UK

Much of the Long Walk passes through Windsor’s historic deer park.  Windsor Great Park dates to the 13th Century, when it served as the hunting ground for the royal family. Nowadays, you still might spot some royals, but you’re more likely to see its many visitors walking, running, or cycling.

You might also catch sight of one of the 500 red deer which still roam freely in the park.  Keep a look out under the ancient oak trees, as the deer often hide in the shade.

Don’t approach the deer, as although they are used to humans, they are still wild animals and can be dangerous.

Best car park:-  Pay and display car park in  Windsor town centre.

A short walk from Savill Garden to the Totem Pole

The Totem Pole, Virginia Water Lake, Egham, Surrey, UK

A family-friendly short walk

The route from Savill Garden to the Totem Pole is one of the best walks at Windsor Park for people with toddlers or younger children.  It is 1.4 miles each way and has level, well-surfaced paths.  It is ideal for buggies and scooters, or for wheelchairs.

This walk starts at the Savill Garden car park in Wick Lane.  From here turn left and follow Rhododendron Ride to the fabulous Totem Pole.

The 30ft totem pole was a gift to Queen Elizabeth II in 1958 and commemorates the centenary of the founding of British Columbia.  It is a magnificent monument, which kids love.  Try to spot the whale, beaver, and man with large hat amongst the many painted carvings.

On the way to the Totem Pole, you’ll pass Cumberland Obelisk, which stands in front of Obelisk Pond.  The grassy area in front of the statue (Obelisk Lawn) is one of the most popular picnic areas in Windsor Park.  In front of the lawn is a small playground, with a wooden ship, sandpit, and swings.  You can usually find a takeaway refreshment van here, selling drinks and ice-creams.

Just beyond the totem pole is Wick Pond, home to a good selection of ducks and waterfowl.  This is at the far end of Virginia Water Lake and joins the path leading past the woods to the Visitor Centre.

Best car park:- Savill Garden Car Park  (Sat nav postcode:  TW20 0HJ)

A walk around Virginia Water Lake

Virginia Water Lake, Egham, Surrey, UK

A fantastic family walk with many points of interest

One of our favourite family walks in Windsor Park is around Virginia Water Lake.  Not only is this one of the most scenic routes, but it is also probably the most interesting.

As well as the large serpentine lake, you’ll find a waterfall and a totem pole.  It is also home to some ornamental Roman ruins, “The Temple of Augustus”.  This folly was made from stones brought over from the original Roman ruins in Libya.

A flat even path follows the perimeter of the lake and is about 4.5 miles in total.  Along the route there are bushes to hide in and logs to climb, so there’s lots to entertain kids.  You’ll see many birds on the lake, including herons, swans, and ducks.  If you’re lucky you may also spot a deer, which has strayed from the deer park.

The walk around Virginia Water Lake starts at the Visitor Centre, where you’ll find toilets and refreshments.  There is also a snack van and temporary seating area at the opposite side of the lake.

If you wish to extend your walk you can take a detour through the stunning Valley Gardens or start at Savill Gardens.

For further reading:  A visit to Virginia Water Lake

Best car park:- Virginia Water Lake Car Park  (Sat nav postcode:  GU25 4QF)

A circular walk around Cow Pond

View of Cow Pond, Savill Gardens

A flat, easy walk to a beautiful ornamental pond and woods

Cow Pond is a large, ornamental pond, which was originally part of the landscaping for Cumberland Lodge.  The designers took their inspiration from the elaborate 18th Century gardens of Europe, such as Versailles.  It has a Baroque-style footbridge at one end and a summer house at the other.

To walk to Cow Pond, park at the Savill Building but follow the path to the right which leads directly there.  The optimum time to visit Cow Pond is in summer, when the water lilies are in bloom. The pond is covered with the flowers and looks phenomenal.

However, it looks pretty throughout the year, and you’ll see less people off-peak.  Once you’ve walked the perimeter of the pond, head out the other side to Chapel Wood.

There are flat, accessible paths and plenty of ancient trees to enjoy.  After a walk in Chapel Woods, you can circle back to the Savill Building.

Best car park:- Savill Garden Car Park  (Sat nav postcode:  TW20 0HJ)

A visit to the Valley Gardens

Purple heather, Valley Gardens, Virginia Waters, Surrey, UK

An undulating walk amongst beautiful gardens

Just north of Virginia Water Lake, the Valley Gardens hosts 250 acres of unique botanical gardens.  The gardens were planted from 1946 under governance from the royal family but have always been open for the public to enjoy.

Today the Valley Gardens are divided into distinct zones, such as the heather gardens, azalea valley, and camellia garden.  Undulating trails will lead you through the spectacular collections of plants and flowers.

As early as February, you can enjoy spring flowers, such as daffodils, snowdrops, and rhododendrons.  Later in the spring, the valley is ablaze with colour from the Kurume azaleas, which adorn the Punch Bowl.

The dome shaped valley leads down to the waters of Virginia Water Lake. This walk is less accessible than the others, as it has uneven paths and steep steps.  However, the scenery is stunning and worth a visit.

You could walk to the Valley Gardens directly from Savill Garden car park.  Alternatively you can extend your walk around Virginia Water lake to include a visit to the gardens .

For further reading:  Springtime in the Valley Gardens at Windsor Park

Best car park:-  Savill Garden Car Park or Virginia Water car park

Getting to Windsor Great Park

Windsor Great Park is on the borders of Berkshire and Surrey in South East England.  It is easily accessible by car from the M25, M4 or M3.

If you are doing the walks at Virginia Water or Savill Garden, you need to head to the other side of Windsor Park.  Virginia Water lake is closer to Egham and Sunningdale.  Virginia Water is 6 miles from Windsor town centre and is accessible from J13 of M25 via the A30.

Parking at Windsor Great Park

There are lots of car parks at Windsor Great Park.  You really need to choose which area you want to visit once you’re in the park.

Parking fees do apply and can be expensive.  However, as admission to Windsor Park is free, it seems good value for a day out.

Getting to Windsor Great Park by train

There are regular trains from London to Windsor.  Direct trains leave from London Waterloo and Paddington station and take from 45 minutes.

If you are coming by train, head for Eton & Windsor station.  You can walk towards Windsor Castle, which is a 15-minute walk.

Trains from London Waterloo to Virginia Water take about 45 minutes.  You can then take a taxi to the Visitor Centre.

Cycling to Windsor Great Park

The National Cycle Route 4 goes through Windsor Park and you can cycle round most areas.  However, you cannot cycle (or push your bike) on the Long Walk.

Opening times at Windsor Great Park

Great Windsor Park is open daily from dawn until dusk.  Admission is free, apart from entrance to Savill Gardens.

Eating at Windsor Great Park

Windsor Great Park is one of the most scenic places in Berkshire for a picnic.  Alternatively you could head to the restaurant at Savill Garden or the Pavilion by Virginia Water Visitor Centre.

There are several refreshment vans in the park, selling drinks, snacks, and ice-creams.

What’s your favourite walk in Windsor Great Park?  We’d love to hear your comments below.

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1 comment

Avatar for Jan
Ruth 20th April 2021 - 9:53 pm

We love visiting Windsor and, having watched the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral it reminded us that a visit is long overdue. A walk in Windsor Great Park will most definitely be on our itinerary. Thank you for this guide.


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