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Published August 13th 2012
Fun day out from London
Families, cyclists and walkers can all have a great day out at Windsor Great Park, over 1000 acres of parkland, woodland, formal avenues and gardens, which were once part of a huge Norman hunting forest dating from the 13th century.
As well as the vast open spaces to explore on foot, horseback or bicycle, you can picnic by
Virginia Water, a man-made lake created in the 18th century, with its nearby ornamental water fall and 'Roman temple' on its south side. You needn't worry if you forget the picnic – there are refreshment vans dotted all around the park serving everything from ice cream to tea and bacon butties.
Valley Gardens, on the north side of Virginia Water - 250 acres of exotic shrubs, forest and meadows, which can be explored via a myriad of pathways. Or if you prefer something more formal, don't miss the Savill Garden, created in the 1930s by Sir Eric Savill, and reputedly one of the UK's finest ornamental gardens. There is a charge to get in – £8.50 an adult, but well worth it if you are that way inclined.
A recent addition to the Park is the Savill Building, an example of contemporary architecture and engineering, with its distinctive curved roof, where you can enjoy a snack or meal, including a roast on Sundays and afternoon tea during the month of August. There is also a gift shop in the Savill Building.
There are paths and tracks throughout the Park for walkers and runners, and with no vehicular traffic apart from the odd estate vehicle, it is very safe. Dog walkers are welcome and cycling is permitted on tarmacked tracks, while roller blading is permitted in only some areas.
For families with children, there is a children's play area on Obelisk Lawn, near the Savill Garden, which is suitable for both toddlers and younger children and, of course, there are acres of green space to play frisbee, throw a ball around or enjoy other more traditional pastimes.
Windsor Great Park is not easy to reach by public transport. Egham, Windsor and Virginia Water are the nearest British Rail stations, but it's at least a 30 minute bus ride from the closest station to reach the Park. If you're driving it is much easier as the Park is close to the M4, M3 and M25 and there are four car parks to choose from, depending on how you plan to spend your day. Car parking costs about £6 a day.