It is with great sadness that we have learnt of the death of His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh. We extend our deepest sympathies to Her Majesty The Queen and all members of the Royal Family.
His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh was the Ranger of the Great Park for nearly 70 years and during this time his impact on one of the most recognised landscapes in the world has been immense. He has provided guidance and insight to our team to help them manage the Great Park and the wider estate, from the farms to the wildlife to the ancient woodlands, ensuring it can continue to offer a rich sanctuary for all, for generations to come. We will miss him greatly and there is no doubt that his influence will continue to be seen in our work across the Great Park.
His Royal Highness’s commitment to protecting the Great Park for the long-term can be best summed up in his own words: “The management of land is a very long-term business and the best results can only be achieved if there is confidence and continuity. We are enjoying the gardens and avenues and amenities planted by previous generations and it is because I feel myself to be a temporary custodian that I am planting for future generations.”
Originally created as a Royal pleasure ground, the spectacular lake at Virginia Water is now a destination for families to enjoy all year round.
The woodland shores of this magnificent lake are hugely popular amongst people who love to take part in the wide range of activities that are possible here - from walking or running the perimeter, to simply relaxing and enjoying the view. This area is steeped in a rich history that spans centuries - from ancient monuments, to cascading waterfalls and stunning vistas.
Virginia Water is very popular all year round, with its glittering waters and abundance of wildlife. The ornamental Cascade waterfall is always a favourite feature - while children love the towering 100 foot Totem Pole, being fascinated by the ten mystical totem characters.
The lake at Virginia Water was created in the 18th century under the stewardship of William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, with the help of his architect Henry Flitcroft – and the construction work first began in 1752. The Duke had ambitious plans for the area, and his work on the project continued when his brother Henry Frederick succeeded him as Ranger. However on 1 September 1768, under Henry’s stewardship, a great storm destroyed the pondhead and Cascade, and emptied the lake!
Thankfully, under the guidance of George III, work soon began to reconstruct and extend the lake to its present day size and scale. The lake and its grounds were reinstated as a place of pageantry and spectacle, with fishing temples along the shore and an ornate Chinese junk peacefully resting on the waters. Today, our team continues in the traditions of skilfully tending and developing this ever changing landscape - with new trees and plantings, careful restoration and the uncovering of stunning vistas.
The Leptis Magna ruins is a folly that, in the fashion of the time, was built to look like a genuine Roman relic - using some of the remnants of a Roman town near Tripoli. Because of the age and delicate nature of the ruins they are now enclosed within a fence line, but you can still get remarkably close to these impressive stones - and restoration in 2009 meant that even more of them can now be seen.
The 100 foot totem pole was a gift to HM the Queen from the people of Canada, carved by master craftsman Chief Mungo Martin of the Kwakiutl Federation. It was erected in 1958 to mark the centenary of the establishment of the province of British Colombia as a Crown Colony.
These useful links will help you to make the most of your visit to Windsor Great Park.
A flat and well maintained path circles most of the lake at Virginia Water, passing by key points of interest such as the Leptis Magna Ruins and the Totem Pole. This makes the landscape easily accessible - so visitors of all ages and abilities can enjoy the beautiful area and its rich history.
There are slight inclines where an able-bodied companion may be necessary to help push the wheelchair, and a relatively steep incline around the slope by the Cascade waterfall. Dedicated disabled parking is available in Virginia Water car park, and disabled toilet facilities can be found in The Pavilion, by the entrance to Virginia Water.
The Virginia Water Pavilion is a relatively recent addition to Windsor Great Park, having opened on the lake shore in 2013. It is crafted from sustainable oak from the Windsor Forest and was mindfully designed to echo the surrounding landscape - providing a peaceful area to sit and immerse yourself in the beauty of the grounds.
The glazed seating area offers stunning views across the lake, while timber decking and picnic tables outside provide an attractive space to eat and relax in warmer weather. The Pavilion acts as a centre for visitor information and support, and also has excellent catering facilities - as well as ladies and gentleman’s toilets, with disabled and baby change facilities.
Whether you're a keen horticulturist looking for inspiration, a dog owner who wants an unrivalled variety of short and longer walks, or a family looking for a place to enjoy nature and history there is a membership type to suit you.
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