Runnymede Air Forces Memorial, Surrey on the circular walk to historic Runnymede

A circular walk to historic Runnymede, Surrey

by Jan

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.  The route is about 7km or 4.5 miles on varied terrain. 

Read this travel guide to discover the best starting point and things to see on a walk from Englefield Green 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.

Our circular walk to Runnymede starts in the the nearby village of Englefield Green, Surrey.

The start of the walk to Runnymede

This walk to historic Runnymede is a popular circular trail, which the Chimptrips family have completed several times, at various times of the year.

We 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. The postcode for the Barley Mow Pub is TW17 0NX.

Alternatively, if you don’t fancy the pub afterwards, you could start at Cooper’s Hill Car Park.  The postcode for this car park is TW20 0LF.

The route starts by walking away from the pub and across Englefield Green.  Then, take a right turn up Cooper’s Hill Lane.  Eventually you’ll come to the Runnymede Air Forces Memorial.

The Barley Mow pub, Englefield Green, Surrey

The Runnymede Air Forces Memorial

Runnymede Air Forces Memorial, Surrey on the circular walk to historic Runnymede

The first stop on our circular walk to Runnymede is at the 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.

Take some time to climb the spiral steps to the tower.  From here you’ll get spectacular views over the River Thames, Runnymede and Windsor.

Ancient woodland near Runnymede

Once you leave the memorial,  turn left, pass a kissing gate and continue through Cooper’s Hill Wood.  This section of the walk provides a perfect woodland landscape, with ancient oak trees and variety of plants.  If you are lucky, you may see a woodpecker or fallow deer in the meadows below.

One of the best times to walk to Runnymede is in Spring, when the woodland has a carpet of shimmering bluebells.

Nature-lovers will love this section of the walk through the woods.  It takes about 15 minutes, if you don’t stop on the way to climb trees.

Magnificent art work

Eventually, you will leave the woodland and arrive at some open meadows.  From here you can start the final walk to historic Runnymede.  Art-lovers will adore the art work which stands randomly in the field.

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 admission is free.

The other impressive piece of art work is “The Jurors”, a group of 12 bronze chairs.  You cannot miss it, as it stands in the middle of the meadow!

Sculptor, Hew Locke created The Jurors 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 sculptures and even sit on them for a moment of reflection.

The jurors is an immersive sculpture or 12 bronze chairs seen in the meadow at Runnymede

The meadow can get very water-logged and muddy after heavy rain.

The Magna Carta Memorial

In addition to the two artworks, there are two important memorials on your left above the meadow.  These memorials commemorate the foundation of the free world and individual liberty.  Firstly, you’ll see the Magna Carta Memorial.

The American Bar Association erected the Magna Carta Memorial in 1957.  The historic monument is a tribute to one of the most significant moments in history, the signing of the Magna Carta.

The Magna Carta Memorial, Runnymede, Surrey

What is the Magna Carta?

National trust sign, during Family Walk, Runnymede, Surrey

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 comprises three parts – steps, stones and seats.

Firstly, climb the cobbled “steps of individuality”.  These granite steps lead up to the stone JFK memorial, which commemorates the life of President John F Kennedy.  The steep steps symbolise a pilgrimage.

To the right of the stone block is the terrace walk.  The walkway leads to the two “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.

The JFK memorial, Runnymede, Surrey

Return to Cooper's Hill Lane

After sitting on the seat of contemplation at the JFK Memorial, you can return to the path continue the walk up the hill. Finally, cross the road and turn right to return to Englefield Green.

Here you can stop for a well-earned drink or meal in the Barley Mow Pub.  If it is a sunny day, you can sit in the back garden or the outdoor seating area at the front.

Refreshments at Runnymede

If you want to stop for refreshments before you return, there is a National Trust tea room by the Magna Carta car park.  The Magna Carta Tea Room offers a choice of hot and cold drinks and light seasonal snacks.

Or you could cross the road and have a stroll by the River Thames.

Parking at Runnymede

If you want to visit Runnymede, but don’t fancy the walk, there is a National Trust car park on the Windsor Road, near Old Windsor.  The car park is next to the meadow and from here you can walk directly to the memorials and art work.

The postcode for the car park at Runnymede is SL4 2JL.

Other walks near Runnymede.

Windsor Great Park

The Copper Horse, Windsor Great Park, Berkshire, UK

Some of the best walks near Runnymede are at Windsor Great Park.  This is part of the Royal Estate and stretches for over 5000 acres from Windsor Castle.

With its own deer park, ancient woodland and landscaped gardens, Winsdsor Park is perfect for walkers, nature-lovers, and families.  Click here for 5 of the best walks at Windsor Park.

Runnymede Pleasure Grounds

Just up the road from Runnymede are the Runnymede Pleasure Grounds.  Here you’ll find a playground and park.  You can walk from the pleasure grounds along the Thames Path to Runnymede.

The route follows a scenic trail along the river.  It is about 1.5 miles each way.  There is a pay and display car park at the start.  The postcode is TW20 0AE.

A circular walk at Virginia Water Lake

Virginia Water Lake, Egham, Surrey, UK

One of the most popular walks at Windsor Great Park is around Virginia Water Lake.  As well as a spectacular view of the lake, you can expect to see a cascade, totem pole, and Roman ruins.  Click here for full details of a walk at Virginia Water Lake.

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