A visit to Virginia Water Lake, Surrey

by Jan
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Are you planning a visit to Virginia Water Lake?  This guide will help you plan your trip and ensure you don’t miss the best things to do and see at Virginia Water Lake.

A visit to Virginia Water Lake makes a terrific day out with or without kids.  It is a popular attraction all year long, but is particularly great for a walk in Autumn.  At this time of year, the autumnal colours are breath-taking, and it is slightly less busy.    In summer, it is awash with colour and the scenery is stunning, but it can get very crowded.

A walk a Virginia Water Lake offers more than just walking.  There is lots to see and do and the natural surroundings are just spectacular.  In this post, you can discover  what to expect on your visit to Virginia Water Lake, including the top attractions and practical information for your visit.

About Virginia Water Lake

Where is Virginia Water Lake?

Virginia Water Lake can be found on the southern edge of Windsor Great Park, near Ascot and is always a popular place to visit for people of all ages.  You will usually see families, joggers, dog-walkers and cyclists, going in both directions.

See below for the Virginia Water Lake map:-

Map of Virginia Water Lake, Egham, Surrey, UK

A brief history of Virginia Water Lake

Virginia Water Lake has a long history associated with Royals.  It was first dammed and flooded in 1753, making it the largest man-made lake of its time.  It has since been used as a Royal playground, by both George 3rd and Queen Victoria.

What can you expect to see?

Virginia Water Lake is really popular, as it always offers so much more than just a walk.   As well as spectacular scenery and nature, there are play areas and picnic spots.  There are also a number of unexpected features along the way.

Autumn Colours, Virginia Water Lake, Egham, Surrey, UK
Virginia Water Lake, Egham, Surrey, UK
Tree Roots in Autumn, Virginia Water Lake, Egham, Surrey, UK

The Cascade

If you start at the café and go clockwise, you will soon come to the ornamental cascade.  This 10- metre cascade was originally built in the 1750s.  It is one of the grandest remaining features of the Royal Landscape.

Until recently children could climb on the surrounding rocks, but now you have to make do with admiring the sparkling waters from the viewpoint.

The Cascade, Virginia Water Lake, Egham, Surrey, UK

The Roman ruins

The Roman Ruins, Virginia Water Lake, Egham, Surrey, UK

The first surprise for people new to Virginia Water Lake is the unexpected sight of Roman ruins.  Many of the stones for the ruins were imported from Leptis Magna, a Roman city in present day Tripoli.  They wanted it to look as much like a genuine Roman relic as possible, as this was fashionable at the time.

Five-Arch Bridge

After completing the first side of the lake, you will cross the stone five-arch bridge, which was built between 1822 and 1827 and has remained relatively unchanged since.

Five Arch Bridge, Virginia Water Lake, Egham, Surrey, UK

The Totem Pole

The second curiosity at Virginia Water Lake is the sight of a 100 ft totem pole.  The government of British Columbia gave the totem pole as a present to the Queen in 1958.

The totem pole was carved from a single 600-year old log of Western Red Cedar.  The carvings depict birds, odd-looking men and animals such as a whale and sea otter.

The circular pathway round the pole makes a  popular runway for children.

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

Nature and wildlife

The vistas at Virginia Water Lake are spectacular.  As well as the stunning views of the lake, there is an abundance of tree varieties and blooms to admire.  You’ll see a good selection of water birds and if you’re lucky (as we were) you might spot deer.

The trees around the perimeter of the lake provide a wonderful, natural playground for children.  There are  trees to climb and old stumps to clamber up.

Cignets, Virginia Water Lake, Egham, Surrey, UK
Deer, Virginia Water Lake, Egham, Surrey, UK

Extend your walk

The Valley Gardens

Signpost to Valley Gardens, Virginia Water Lake, Egham, Surrey, UK

The perimeter of the lake is about 4.5 miles.  If you take a slight detour from the perimeter walk, you can wander through the Valley Gardens.

The valley gardens displays trees and flowers from all over the world.  This looks stunning at all times of the year.   In Spring, it is ablaze with colour from the large collection of rhododendron, magnolia, and azaleas.

Various pathways and trails will lead down into the Punch Bowl, which can look spectacular when in bloom.

The Savill Garden

A short walk from Virginia Water Lake will take you to The Savill Garden.  Here you will find 35 acres of designed gardens and is every horticulturalists’ dream.  There is an admission charge to enter these gardens, but access to the restaurant or food counter is free.

Children's playground

On the way down to The Savill Garden, there is a small playground for younger children.  This has a wooden ship, swings and a sandpit.

For older children, there are a lot of good trees for climbing in behind the playground.  In front of the playground, there is the Obelisk Lawn, which is a popular picnic spot.

Swan on Virginia Water Lake, Egham, Surrey, UK
Amazing Trees, Virginia Water Lake, Egham, Surrey, UK
Autumn Colours, Virginia Water Lake, Egham, Surrey, UK

Practicalities

How to get to Virginia Water Lake

The easiest way to get to Virginia Water Lake is by car.

It is easily accessible from the M25, via the A30.  It is also very close to Windsor (about 20 minutes from the town centre).

The nearest train station is Virginia Water Station, but the entrance to the lake is 2 miles away, so you would need to get a cab.

Parking at Virginia Water Lake

There are 2 car parks for Virginia Water Lake and one for Savill Garden.  The sat nav postcode for the main car park is GU25 4QF and for Savill Garden is TW20 0UJ.

All of the car parks can get very busy during the summer months, so it’s best to get there early.  Details of charges and opening times can be found here.

Virginia Water Lake Opening Times

The car parks are open from 7.45am (or dawn if later) to 7pm (or dusk if earlier) throughout the year.

Entrance Fees to Virginia Water Lake

It is free to get into Virginia Water Lake and the Valley Gardens, though you will have to pay by the hour for the car parks.

There is an admission charge for the Savill Garden.   It is currently £12 for adults and £6 for children (5-15 yrs) in the summer.  It is considerably cheaper during the winter months.

Top tip:  If you purchase entrance to Savill Garden, you can get a refund on your parking ticket.

Refreshments

There are a number of eateries at Virginia Water Lake.  The Pavillion has been updated and provides a selection of snacks and drinks.  There are a number of snack vans and ice-cream vans (seasonal).  Picnicking is also a very popular choice, as there are so many great places to stop.

For more formal eating, you can head to The Savill Garden.

Alternatively after a great walk we stop at one of the many pubs surrounding the lake for a refreshing pint and family friendly meal.

We can recommend the Wheatsheaf HotelThe Bailiwick or The Belvedere Arms which are all accessible on foot from Virginia Water Lake.

Thank you for reading

We hope you enjoyed reading this post.  Have you been for a visit to Virginia Water Lake yet?  Which is your favourite part?  If you have any comments or questions, please comment below.

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