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Virginia Water: a family romp in Surrey

Updated: Dec 1, 2020

Julia strolls the circular lake-side loop around this Royal pleasure ground.

I've been itching to get out to Virginia Water for ages. Part of The Crown Estate I'd heard from many friends about the magnificent lake - a historical joy with ancient monuments, cascading waterfalls and a massive (albeit slightly random) 100 ft Totem Pole.

Bundling the dog and kids in the car we left bright and early bagging a spot in the Visitor Centre Car Park (opens 7.45am). 30 mins from West London on a good day we got there in no time. There are big works afoot in the main visitor Pavillion (which is currently closed) but we were able to grab a cup of hot coffee and a bacon butty from a jolly make-shift caravan cafe.

Striding out the circular loop following the shoreline of the lake is just under 5 miles. As you weave along the woodland path watching the birds and squirrels scurry along you can't help but be in awe of the stunning views and leafy woodlands. We spotted four different sorts of fungi.

Top highlights include:

The Leptis Magna ruins were built to look like a genuine Roman relic in 1818. Nestled to the west of the lake you can imagine the royal pomp and pageantry that used to play out in the columns of this elaborate folly.

The towering Totem Pole, a gift to HM the Queen from the people of Canada, is carved into ten stacked mystical totem characters. A very impressive 12-ton pole.

The Waterfall Cascade built in the 1780's when the lake was enlarged by George III is a real beauty. The gushing waters are a splendid sight.

The loop would be equally good to run or trundle a pram or push a wheel chair. Great news is there are heaps of very smart temporary port-a-loos so no panic needed on that front. There's also a second coffee hut half-way round for hungry little people.

Next on our list is The Valley Gardens and the Savill Gardens. Along with The Long Walk & Deer Garden we 're looking forward to exploring all 4,800 acres of this splendid Crown Estate.


1 December 2020


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