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13 November 2014

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You are in: Southern Counties > Features > General Interest > Walking the Dog > Virginia Water

Virginia Water

Virginia Water

Located at the south end of Windsor Great Park, Virginia Water is one of Surrey's finest open spaces. Apart from the large lake, you can also wander through the Valley Gardens and up to Smiths Lawn (home of the Guards Polo Club) to the north.

Virginia Water key

TIME: 90 minutes

The start of this walk is just over one mile from Virginia Water station. If you come by train, walk to the end of Station Parade, turn left into Christchurch Road B389. Take the next left into Station Approach and cut through, back onto Christchurch Road. Continue straight across the roundabout, until you reach the A30 London Road. Cross  safely.

This walk starts in the Virginia Water car park, which is located approximately 20 yards to the right of The Wheatsheaf Pub.* 

Virginia Water

The Cascade

The car park is free for the first 90 minutes, and then a small charge is made on an hourly basis. 

Walk through the gate in the middle of the car park, turn left and head towards the lake shore, (made from a small stream in the 1740's, and dammed to form a larger lake in 1753). Here the choice of direction is yours!

Either turn left and follow the path which takes you past The Cascade, an 18th century  waterfall and grotto, which are rumoured to have been built from stones found at a Saxon settlement on nearby Bagshot Heath.

Rhododendron

Valley Gardens is a must see

Past that, you will find a group of real Roman ruins, brought from the town of Leptis Magna in Tripoli and given to the Prince Regent (later George IV), who left them in the British Museum for a few years, until park architect Sir Jeffrey Wyatville decided to place them here. 

Continue along the path, which follows the circumference of the lake, a distance of approximately 4 1/2 miles. This will take you back through Valley Gardens and other interesting sites before returning you to the car park entrance.

Or you can turn right on the lake shore at the start, and head towards the 100-foot high Totem Pole, which was a gift from the government of British Columbia.

Then branch right and follow the signposted path towards the Cumberland Oblelisk, a memorial to Prince William, a younger son of George II and the obelisk pond.

Polo on Smith's Lawn

Polo on Smith's Lawn

Or to Smith's Lawn, an area which was used to house the Canadian Forestry Corps in the Great War, in WWII hosted an aerodrome for the American air force and after the Normandy landings, was an RAF Tiger Moth training camp.

However, since 1955 it has been the "home turf" of the Guards Polo Club and the Windsor Park Equestrian Club.

If you do visit these, you can then follow signs back to the Valley Gardens before returning to the lake circumference path and continuing your walk.

Rhododendron

Rhododendrons in bloom

Please note signs in the Valley Gardens area instruct you to keep your dog on a lead.  

Public toilets are located at the Virginia Water car park, the Valley Gardens car park and the Savill Garden car park.    

See the map below for full details of pathways and facilities within the park.

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Mark Simmonds visited the park in 2008. You can see a selection of his photos here.

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OTHER POINTS OF INTEREST:

  • Valley Gardens has 400 acres of specially designed woodland gardens. Depending on what time of year you visit, you will see spectacular displays of heather, rhododendron, camellias and magnolias. Don't forget to take your camera! 
  • At one time a 32 foot long Royal Barge was stationed on the lake. George IV would invite friends aboard and have a floating orchestra accompany the party from a smaller boat alongside!
Edward VIII

Edward VIII abdicated here

  • Recently, scenes from Harry Potter were filmed on the shore of the lake. 
  • The Leptis Magna ruins lie on the very edge of grounds belonging to a large house called Fort Belvedere, which was country home to Edward, Prince of Wales, when he met American divorcee Wallace Simpson.

    It was in this house, on the 10th December 1936, that King Edward VIII signed the Instrument of Abdication.

THE PUBS:

You are spoiled for choice on this walk. There are two dog friendly pubs, a short drive away.

The Beehive

THE BEEHIVE
34 Middle Hill, Englefield Green, Egham, Surrey, TW20 0JQ. Tel: 01784 431621

This small and friendly village pub is tucked away on a quiet residential street, just outside Egham town centre, although it is officially in Englefield Green.
Dog friendly and serving good, very reasonably priced, traditional pub food.
Car park and small sunny patio area.
At time of writing the pub opens Monday to Thursday from 12.00 to 15.00 and again at  17.30 to 23.00 and all day Friday to Sunday from 12.00 to 23.00.
Food is served Monday to Thursday 12.00 to 14.30 and 18.00 to 20.30, and Friday to Sunday 12.00 to 20.30.

Directions: Turn left out of Virginia Water car park and head towards Egham along the A30 London Road.  Once past the huge gothic building on your right, which is the University of London's Royal Holloway College, start keeping an eye out for the turning to Middle Hill. It is approximately two hundred yards further along the A30, on the opposite side of the road to the college. Turn left up Middle Hill and you will find The Beehive a short drive up the road on the right hand side. 

THE FOX AND HOUNDS
Bishops Gate, Englefield Green, Surrey, TW20 0XU. Tel: 01784 433098

The pub

The Surrey border once ran through the centre of this cosy, affluent, country pub, set on the outskirts of Windsor Great Park!
Car parking, beer garden and patio. Roaring fires in Winter.
Dog friendly, in fact, expect your pooch to make several furry pals while he is there!
You may even find yourself rubbing shoulders with the local royals, who have been known to frequent this establishment!
Good, but slightly overpriced food served in the bar and restaurant. Dog's allowed in the large bar area only. Open 11.00 to 23.00 all week. Menu available in bar and restaurant with some timing/day exceptions, please check food serving details with pub. 


Directions: Turn left onto the A30 London Road. At the Englefield Green traffic lights  turn left onto the A328 St Jude's Road, signposted to Englefield Green.
Go straight through Englefield Green village, continuing over the mini roundabout and continue to the green itself, which is on your left. At the end of the green, after the mini roundabout, turn left into Bishopsgate Road. Continue all the way along Bishopsgate Road and you will find the pub on your left, just before the gated entrance to Windsor Great Park. 
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*Please note: The neighbouring pub to Virginia Water park, The Wheatsheaf Hotel, will only let our furry friends into the beer garden, not inside the pub. Although acceptable in the Summer months, due to dogs not being allowed in the bar, we have not included the pub as one of our "Dog friendly" recommendations. However, they do serve food from 11.00 to 22.00 Monday to Saturday and 12.00 to 22.00 on Sunday.
If you chose to use The Wheatsheaf Hotel, you may park in their car park for a small fee, redeemable against purchases made in the bar. 
The Wheatsheaf Hotel, London Road, Virginia Water, GU25 4QF. Tel: 01344 842057

FIND OUT MORE

last updated: 27/01/2009 at 10:27
created: 11/01/2008

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Anne Skinner
Another good walk is from Blacknest Gate off the road between Ascot and Virginia Water,also two good hosteries nearby and a direct route to Smiths Lawn that the Queen uses when she leaves the racecourse.

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