4 November 2023. The highlights were the autumn colours of the trees, the views across Virginia Water and our visit to the Air Forces Memorial. The weather forecast had been for heavy rain in the morning, but we were lucky as there were only a few periods of rain and we sometimes had blue skies and winter sun, especially in the afternoon.
The excitement started early when I mistakenly encouraged our walkers to get off the train thinking we’d arrived at Egham when it was one stop before our destination! Fortunately everyone was back on board before the train departed.
We started from Egham station at about 9.40am with 9 people. I’d altered the first part of the route to avoid a flooded and extremely muddy section, however the price was walking on pavements for 30 minutes until we entered Windsor Great Park. Our initial path was through impressive trees.
We then walked beside the huge lake, Virginia Water, with lovely views across the water (as featured in the banner photo).
We had a stop at a cafe, where some of us had a takeaway coffee. Shortly after, we reached the Cascade, a man-made waterfall, which was particularly impressive due to the large volume of water flowing over the rocks.
We turned away from Virginia Water into woods until we reached the lunch stop. After eating their sandwiches, the picnickers joined the rest of the group eating in the pub.
Following lunch, we re-entered Windsor Great Park at Blacknest Gate, walking across two bridges and turning into Valley Gardens. Here we came across strange looking, pollarded Salex trees with yellow/orange branches. Soon afterwards, there were some beautiful, bright-red Acer trees.
Shortly after that, two of our group took advantage of the dropout point. Then there were seven!
After passing a lake, we saw a tall obelisk dedicated to the Duke of Cumberland, who led the creation of Windsor Great Park over 200 years ago and who is known as “the Butcher of Culloden” because he ordered his soldiers to kill the wounded and captured Scottish soldiers.
Next we arrived at the Saville Garden building where we had a break before we exited Windsor Great Park, walking down a narrow lane, followed by a more pleasant section through fields and woods.
After some more road walking, we reached the Air Forces Memorial where we stayed for 20 minutes. The memorial is in the shape of a cloister, which creates a tranquility, and around its walls are listed the names of the 20,000 allied air forces men and women who were lost in the 2nd World War and who have no known grave. They came from the UK, all over the Commonwealth and those continental European countries which had been overrun by the Nazis. The far side of the memorial has a fine view but the trees prevented us from seeing Runnymede below us.
There was then a 1/2 mile gradual descent on a rough track. Near the bottom was a National Trust noticeboard of a map showing a footpath across the field to the Magna Carta Memorial. Finally we walked into Egham, arriving at the station at about 4.30pm, just as it was beginning to get dark.
Terry (with thanks to Christine R and Virginia for additional photos