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The Punch Bowl, Valley Gardens, Windsor Great Park

The Punch Bowl, Valley Gardens, Windsor Great Park

Great Outdoors

The Royal Borough features some beautiful countryside with more than 1,000 acres of National Trust land in the north and 4,800 acres of Crown Estate, not to mention the River Thames running through the heart of the region.

If you enjoy spending time outdoors here are some suggestions for walking, cycling, riding and a thoroughly good day out in the Windsor, Maidenhead and Ascot area.

Windsor Great Park

Windsor Great Park is the only Royal Park managed by the Crown Estate.

Once part of a vast Norman hunting forest it was enclosed in the late 13th Century. Covering 2,020 hectares of parkland, it includes a mix of formal avenues, gardens, woodland, open grassland and a Deer Park.

The Great Park and its forest are renowned for its scattering of great ancient oaks, which all add to the magnificent history of the Great Park.

There is so much to see and do here: walking and running; cycling, mountain biking and rollerblading; dog walking; fishing; horse riding; flying model aircraft and picnicking.  Visit the Windsor Great Park website for more information on where you can enjoy these activities, seasonal highlights, car parking and for interactive maps.

Leaflets showing parts of the park open to the public are also available from the Royal Windsor Information Centre.

The Savill Garden

Located within Windsor Great Park, Britain's finest ornamental garden, The Savill Garden is a true wonder. It's a garden for all seasons and a place of beauty and colour that's loved by horticulturalists and enthusiasts alike. Visitors can journey through 35 acres of interconnecting gardens and exotic woodland. Every garden has its own unique attraction, featuring a distinctive group of plants that introduce a fresh burst of vibrant colour throughout the seasons.

It is open all year round and there is a stunning visitor centre containing a large airy restaurant run by Leith’s, a shop offering interesting gifts and a plant centre.

Virginia Water

Nearby is Virginia Water, said to be named after Queen Elizabeth I, the Virgin Queen and created by the Duke of Cumberland, son of George II.

The woodlands surrounding the lake have been continuously planted since the middle of the 18th Century. The Frost Farm Plantation (at the south-western end of the lake) is also a designated SSI (Site of Special Interest), thanks to its maturity and biodiversity.

There are reminders of the past wherever you look. The lake was once a place of pageantry and spectacle and home to a Chinese junk and fishing temples built on the shore.

Take a trip to the south bank and discover an ornamental cascade from the 18th Century, and the Leptis Magna Ruins, a 'Roman temple' built from columns and lintels brought from the ancient city of Leptis Magna in the early 19th Century.

One of the area's more recent additions is a towering 100-foot high Totem Pole, a gift to HM The Queen from the government of British Columbia.

On the northern banks of the lake are The Valley Gardens and to the north of these is Smiths Lawn, home to the Guards Polo Club. Polo matches can be enjoyed most days from April to September.

Runnymede

It was at Runnymede in 1215 that King John sealed the Magna Carta. The American Bar Association erected a memorial in 1957 to commemorate the foundation of the American Constitution in the Magna Carta, this can be seen on the hillside overlooking the water meadows.

Nearby on an acre of ground given to the USA by Her Majesty The Queen is a memorial erected in 1965 to the memory of the assassinated President John F. Kennedy.

Maidenhead

The river at Maidenhead is one of the many attractions of the town and wider area.  A walk along the riverside offers amazing views of the Thames and great walks towards the villages of Cookham, Marlow and Bray.  Explore the river’s towpaths and walkways on foot, or take to the water on a passenger cruiser or in a self-drive launch.  There is a landing stage for visiting the National Trust's Cliveden estate where restoration work in the gardens has returned them to their former glory.

Links

The Thames Trail

National Trail Thames Path

iFootpath - library of walking guides (web and app)

The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Public Rights of Way

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