50 Walks in Berkshire and Buckinghamshire

Windsor Great Park

Try this sample walk from the latest edition of 50 Walks in Berkshire and Buckinghamshire.

About 50 Walks in Berkshire and Buckinghamshire

Walking is one of Britain's favourite leisure activities, and this guide to Berkshire and Buckinghamshire features 50 mapped walks from 2 to 10 miles, to suit all abilities.

The book features all the practical detail you need, including:

  • fascinating background reading on the history and wildlife of the area,
  • clear OS-based mapping for ease of use,
  • every route has been colour coded according to difficulty,
  • annotations for local points of interest and places to stop for refreshments,
  • summary of distance, time, gradient, level of difficulty, type of surface and access, landscape, dog friendliness, parking and public toilets.

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Sample walk: Windsor Great Park

  • Distance: 5.25 miles (8.4km)
  • Minimum Time: 2hrs 30min
  • Ascent: 160 feet (49m)
  • Gradient: 2
  • Difficulty: 1
  • Paths: Park drives and rides, woodland paths and tracks
  • Landscape: Sprawling parkland of Windsor Great Park
  • Suggested Map: OS Explorer 160 Windsor, Weybridge & Bracknell
  • Start Grid Reference: SU947727
  • Dog Friendliness: Dogs under strict control or on lead
  • Parking: Car park by Cranbourne Gate (open weekends, bank holidays and school holidays only, closed weekdays rest of year) or use Ranger’s Gate
  • Public Toilet: None on route
Background reading

Walkers in East Berkshire who enjoy peaceful parkland, leafy paths and a sense of space in a noisy and cluttered world don’t have to look very far to find what they want. Right on their doorstep is the opportunity to walk for miles and yet remain within the confines of Windsor Great Park, once part of a royal hunting ground and now, in effect, an enormous nature reserve covering thousands of acres, where deer roam amid ancient trees. Windsor Great Park stretches south from Windsor Castle some 5 miles (8km) down to the Surrey border. The northern part is quieter, less commercialised and much less visited than the well-known southern section.

Comprising about 4,800 acres (1,944ha) of wooded parkland and magnificent landscaped gardens, the general design and landscaping of the Great Park is largely the work of George II’s son, the Duke of Cumberland, who was given the rangership of Windsor Great Park in recognition of his victory over the Jacobites at the Battle of Culloden in 1746.

One of the park’s most striking features is the oak-lined Long Walk, running in a straight line between Windsor and the mighty equestrian statue of George III on Snow Hill. This was erected in 1831 and is known as the Copper Horse.

From the statue of the Copper Horse you can enjoy one of the most famous views in Britain of Windsor Castle. In fact, during your walk the castle will come into view several times. During the late 1950s the exiled Duke of Windsor said of the royal residence and its surroundings:

‘there is one place... which hardly changes at all, and that is Windsor Castle. Here is a palace essentially English in character. I take pleasure in the way it broods, with an air of comfortable benevolence, down over the homely town of Windsor, while to the south spreads the spacious Great Park, with the Long Walk stretching three miles through the soft, green English landscape and the meadows of the Home Park to the south, refreshed by the waters of the slowly winding Thames.’

But it is not just royalty and ramblers who love Windsor Great Park. To the surprise of many visitors there is a lively village here, complete with post office and shop, and excellent sports facilities too. It was built in the 1930s to house royal estate workers. Less surprisingly, many writers have been captivated and inspired by the Park. Alexander Pope often rode here and wrote about the scenery, while Jonathan Swift described the Long Walk as ‘the finest avenue I ever saw’.

  1. From the car park, cross the A332 to Cranbourne Gate and enter the park. Follow the drive alongside trees planted over the years to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887 and Edward VII’s coronation in 1902. To the left are distant views of Windsor Castle. Turn right at the first crossroads, signposted ‘York Club, Cumberland Lodge and Royal School’, and follow the drive to the next junction by two ponds where swans are often seen.
  2. Turn left here, signposted ‘Cumberland Lodge, Village Shop, Royal School, The Village’. Pass the Post Office and General Store, walk between a spacious green and cricket pitch, and then after the children’s play area, turn right, off the track, to join the broad, grassy Queen Anne’s Ride, heading towards an equestrian statue. Look back for another view of Windsor Castle. Follow the ride to a tarmac drive and the equestrian statue of Queen Elizabeth II, erected for her Golden Jubilee. Turn left, onto the tarmac drive, keep left at the fork, then left again after 65yds (60m) at a crossroads.
  3. Continue ahead at the next junction and then, 200yds (183m) beyond the woods, turn right to follow a broad, hedge-lined, grassy path. Ahead lies Royal Lodge and to the left of it is the famous Copper Horse statue. Take the next grassy ride on the left and head for a deer gate. Through this, keep ahead towards the statue, cross a sandy bridleway, and when you draw level with the statue bear left. The figure of George III points the way to a woodland path, which merges with a sandy bridleway running down to a drive. Pass through the gate and keep right at the immediate fork.
  4. Walk along to Queen Anne’s Ride, which crosses the drive just before a house. On the left is a millstone. Turn right here and follow the ride to Russel’s Pond, on your left. Veer left and walk beside the pond and fence. Go straight ahead (right) as the path forks left and right. Continue uphill through woodland, then drop down to the road at Ranger’s Gate.
  5. Cross over at the lights and take the tarmac drive beyond the car park. Just before white gates leading into Flemish Farm, turn left and follow a sandy bridleway alongside a field. Continue up the slope and through the wood. Continue on the bridleway until eventually you reach a drive. On the right is Cranbourne Tower. Turn left to return to the car park.ventually you reach a drive.
While you're there

Frogmore House Garden, just off the Long Walk, is the last resting place of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. The mausoleum, built by Victoria, sits in a splendid landscaped garden with an 18th-century lake. Frogmore is only open to the public on a limited number of days during the year.

Where to eat and drink

Light refreshments at the Post Office and General Store in the village is the only option on this route unless you bring a picnic. Established in 1948, the shop is open on weekdays from 7.30am to 4pm, closing at 1pm on Wednesday and Friday. On Saturday it opens 8:30am to 3.30pm, and on Sunday 10am to 3.30pm. It has a pleasant garden area with benches.

What to look out for

On Queen Anne’s Ride stands a millstone, unveiled to commemorate the planting of the first of 1,000 trees here, marking 1,000 years of the office of High Sheriff of Windsor Great Park. Near the end of the walk, Cranbourne Tower is part of a lodge once visited by Samuel Pepys in 1665, and where Queen Victoria used to take tea.

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