DAY TRIP: VIRGINIA WATER

DESTINATION 

An hour’s journey from London’s Waterloo station (33-some miles from the City) is this resplendently scenic Surrey town, the central feature of which is the stunning 2,200 hectare Crown Estate-run park through which Virginia Lake dazzlingly and tranquilly twists and winds. A visitor may choose from several paths throughout the spacious environment, visit various specialty gardens, even pass by a 100-foot tall totem pole (presented to the Queen in 1958 by the Canadian people to mark the centenary of British Columbia), a waterfall and, bizarrely enough, encounter a Roman ruin folly (actually remnants from myriad buildings from the Mediterranean city of Leptis shipped to Windsor in 1817, but not assembled onsite until 1826 after a decade’s rest at the British Museum, a “gift” from the Consul General in Tripoli to the future George IV). The main pathway is a gently rambling  and profoundly serene 4-and-a-half mile course around the lake, a true riot of arboreal and floral porn, especially at this time of year, the landscape a relentless fertile rush. The occasional dog scampers nearby, frolicking in the water, other people calmly amble past. You feel a pleasantly helpless surrender to the healing thrust of nature. Surrounding the park is the Wentworth Estate, an enclave of stylish mansions and extensive grounds, mostly tantalisingly revealed in brief glimpses from between tightly planted perimeter hedges or through gates (you are meant to wander its streets only after being granted permission from the estate council, a principle which I outright flouted). This area has the distinction of being second only to London in house prices, the average property set at £1.3 million and beyond. Immersed in the wonder of the lake and woods and gardens, impossibly lush residences and clean, prodigious air, it’s quite easy to feel a world away from urban terrorist attacks and tower block tragedies, a soulful and salvaging balm.

http://www.windsorgreatpark.co.uk/en/experiences/virginia-water

 

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