On this easy, circular walk to historic Runnymede, you can expect to enjoy spectacular nature, award-winning art, three memorials and most famously the site where the Magna Carta was signed.
This circular walk to Runnymede makes a interesting day trip from Windsor or London or a pleasant walk if you live locally. Read this travel guide to discover the best starting point and things to see on a walk to Runnymede.
Where is Runnymede?
Runnymede is a meadow on the River Thames in Surrey. It is close to Windsor in Royal Berkshire and about 20 miles west of Central London. It is easiest to access it by car.
Alternatively you can take a train to Egham station and it is 20 minutes walk from there.
We always chose to do a pleasant circular walk to Runnymede from the nearby village of Englefield Green.
The start of the walk to Runnymede
This walk to historic Runnymede is a popular circular trail, which the Chimptrip family have completed several times, at various times of the year.
We always park at the green in front of the Barley Mow pub in Englefield Green. This gives us a nice incentive to finish the walk. The pub looks out onto the cricket club and there is a small playground there too. Alternatively, if you don’t fancy the pub afterwards, you could start at Cooper’s Hill Car Park.
We start by walking away from the pub and across Englefield Green. If you take a right turn up Cooper’s Hill Lane, you will soon come to the Runnymede Air Forces Memorial.
The Runnymede Air Forces Memorial
The Runnymede Memorial commemorates the thousands of airmen and women who were lost in the 2nd World War and have no known grave. It is a very special place as the names of the many who were lost are engraved around the memorial.
I recommend climbing the tower, as you will get magnificent views for miles around over the River Thames, Runnymede and Windsor.
Once you leave the memorial, you can turn left, pass a kissing gate and continue through Cooper’s Hill Wood. Here you will great views of the woodland, with its ancient oak trees and variety of plants. If you are lucky, you may see a woodpecker or some deer in the meadows below.
In the spring, woodland is transformed with a carpet of shimmering bluebells.
The walk through the woods will take about 15 minutes, if you don’t stop on the way to climb trees.
Magnificent art work
Eventually, you will come out onto some open meadows and can start the final walk into historic Runnymede.
Firstly, you will see “Writ in Water”. Artist Mark Wallinger designed this award-winning immersive space to celebrate the legacy of the Magna Carta. It is open every day and is free to enter.
The other impressive piece of art work is “The Jurors”, a group of 12 bronze chairs. You cannot miss it, as it is in the middle of the meadow!
Sculptor, Hew Locke created this art piece to mark the 800th anniversary of the sealing of the Magna Carta. Each chair represents a different concept of law and key moments in the struggle for freedom and equal rights. Visitors can touch the sculptors and even sit on them, whilst they contemplate their meaning.
The Magna Carta Memorial
There are 2 important memorials on your left above the meadow. Firstly, you will see the Magna Carta Memorial. The American Bar Association erected this historic monument in 1957.
What is the Magna Carta?
The original Magna Carta is a charter of rights, agreed by King John of England at Runnymede in June 1215. The intention was to create peace between King John and his rebellious barons. It started the principle that the king and his government were not above the law.
Initially, it wasn’t very successful, as neither party complied with the rules of the agreement. However, Henry III later reissued the charter and it eventually became part of English law.
Today it is one of the most famous documents in the world and one of the most influential documents in British history. It is now a powerful symbol of liberty and has inspired many famous people. The most famous clause gave all “free men” the right to justice and a fair trial.
The JFK memorial
Further along, you can visit the JFK memorial. This is made of 3 parts – steps, stones and seats.
Firstly, you climb the cobbled “steps of individuality”. These will lead up to the stone JFK memorial, which commemorates the life of President John F Kennedy. To the right of the stone block is the terrace walk. The walkway leads to the 2 “seats of contemplation”, which represent the King-Queen relationship.
The memorial stands in an acre of land, which is actually a little part of America. Queen Elizabeth gave this land to the USA as a gift in 1965.
After sitting on the seat of contemplation, you can return to the path behind the memorial and continue the walk up the hill. Cross the road, turning right returns you to Englefield Green.
If you want to stop by the memorials before you return, there is a National Trust tea room by the Magna Carta car park.
Or you could cross the road and have a wander by the River Thames.
Alternatively, return back up Cooper’s Hill Lane and head for a well-earned drink in the Barley Mow. If it is a sunny day, you can sit in the back garden or the benches out the front.
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