Berkshire Walk – May 2018

Head to East Berkshire and blow the cobwebs away on a fairly long, but mostly level walk through Windsor Great Park. Once part of a vast Norman hunting forest, the park is a great place for a walk with its wonderful mix of ancient oak trees and wildlife, including a large herd of red deer.

Keep a lookout for the red deer that roam through parts of the park
Keep a lookout for the red deer that roam through parts of the park

Soon after leaving the car park we cross Virginia Water – a picturesque 18th century  man-made lake – via the elegant five-arched bridge designed by Sir Jeffry Wyatville in the 1820’s, before heading north past the Valley Gardens to reach Smith’s Lawn.

The elegant five-arched bridge over Virginia Water
The elegant five-arched bridge over Virginia Water

The gardens (free entry), which were created by Deputy Ranger, Sir Eric Savill and his head gardener, Hope Findlay, have several trails including the Azalea Walk which offers an abundance of colour in May. Smith’s Lawn is home to the Guard’s Polo Club which was founded in 1955; between March and September there are a number of polo events.

The equestrian statue of Prince Albert overlooks Smith's Lawn
The equestrian statue of Prince Albert overlooks Smith’s Lawn

We continue northwards past Cumberland Gate; on the way, over to the left, is a statue of Prince Albert on horseback, erected to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee.

The Copper Horse, a mighty equestrian statue of George III erected in 1831, sits atop Snow Hill
The Copper Horse, a mighty equestrian statue of George III erected in 1831, sits atop Snow Hill

Soon the walk splits with the longer walk heading into the deer park to reach Snow Hill. Crowned by the Copper Horse, a mighty equestrian statue of George III erected in 1831, the hill affords some impressive views including Windsor Castle which lies at the end of the tree-lined Long Walk. The castle – the largest occupied castle in the world – dates back to Norman times.

From Snow Hill the view stretches north along The Long Walk to Windsor Castle
From Snow Hill the view stretches north along The Long Walk to Windsor Castle

After admiring the views we follow part of the Three Castles Path (a 60-mile route between Windsor Castle and the Great Hall at Winchester via Odiham Castle) before rejoining the shorter walk near Chaplain’s Lodge.

Picturesque Leiper Pond is just to the right of Duke's Lane
Picturesque Leiper Pond is just to the right of Duke’s Lane

We then continue along Duke’s Lane, later passing the picturesque Leiper Pond, before following a delightfully secluded stretch through woods.

The last section of the walk follows a wide grassy path through lovely woodland scenery
The last section of the walk follows a wide grassy path through lovely woodland scenery

Finally we re-cross the five-arched bridge over Virginia Water to arrive back at the car park; published in Berkshire and Buckinghamshire Life, May 2018.