Windsor lies 21 miles West of London and south of the River Thames. Beginning from prehistoric times, different inhabitants left their traces in Windsor, but it was around 500AD during the Saxon period that a small settlement around the River Thames started to grow in Windsor. As is the case with all great rivers, towns flourish around them very quickly, it was the same with Windsor. On realising the potential of River Thames for transport purposes, William the conqueror took over the town and built a wooden castle there, reinforced with stone later by King Henry II.
Today, Windsor Castle is not only one of the most inhabited castles in the world but also one of the most visited. It has made Windsor a world-renowned tourist attraction, not just for Windsor Castle but also for many other areas of interest like the River Thames, Windsor Great Park, Savill Garden, Lego land and many others. Surrounding areas of Windsor include Ascot, famous for its horseracing and the historic town of Eton, which lies on the northern end of the River Thames and links with Windsor via the Eton Bridge.
River Thames is not only popular with tourists but also for local families who use its banks for relaxation purposes especially in summer when you see people playing games, cycling or taking walks alongside it and for those who enjoy fishing; the river offers plenty of fish varieties to choose. You can see children feeding the ducks and swans around the river and there is a chance for families to view Windsor and Windsor Castle via the frequent boating and barging trips. The water level of the river is monitored using Locks and Weirs and is raised and lowered to keep the flow constant and prevent Windsor and surrounding areas being flooded. River Thames is an important part of Windsor and just like the other parts of Britain that have sprung around the river; Windsor too owes its spread and growth to the River Thames.
WINDSOR GREAT PARK
Windsor Great Park, part of the Crown Estate, lies towards the south of Windsor and covers an area of approximately 5000 acres. With mostly woodland and grassy areas, it is popular for those who enjoy horse riding, walking and cycling, as there is limited access to public vehicles and motor cycles. It has the added attraction of the deer park where you can see deer grazing as you walk by. There is the opportunity to explore different areas in the park and the large number of small animals and birds that have made their home in the Great Park make it a nature lover’s paradise.
THE COPPER HORSE
On Snow Hill in the Great Park stands a bronze statue of George III, created by Sir Richard Westmacott and erected by George IV in memory of his father. It marks one end of the three mile Long Walk in the Windsor Great Park with the George IV gateway of Windsor Castle at the other end.
Started by Charles II, the Long Walk originally comprised of elm trees lining either side of the walk but over the years, horse chestnuts have replaced these. A popular three-mile long walk it gives scenic views of Windsor Castle on one side and the Copper Horse on the other.
Towards the eastern part of the Great Park is Savill garden, created in 1932 by Eric Savill and a must for all plant lovers and horticulturists. It has trees and exotic plants from all over the world and covers an area if 35 acres in the Windsor Great Park. There are different gardens within the Saville Garden itself, one of them being the New Zealand Garden, which contains exotic and rare plants native to New Zealand. Every season brings a different myriad of colour to the garden and while it abounds with azaleas and camellias in spring, autumn adds the richness of gold and reds to the trees and the shrubs. Saville Garden is a relaxing and informative place for all the family and you have added facilities like a restaurant and a shop for those who want to take some souvenirs, gifts and plants back home.
North of Virginia Water is Valley Gardens covering an area of 250 acres. With many exotic plants and trees, spring brings the Valley Gardens to life when Azaleas display their colours to their full glory. Valley Gardens provide hours of enjoyment to everyone and is definitely a place for those who love gardens and plants.
Dating back to 1753, Virginia Water is an artificially created lake surrounded by woodlands. It has a waterfall called the Cascade with “The Robbers Cave” beside it made of large stones, a Roman temple with columns brought from the ancient city of Leptis Magna and a totem pole from Canada.
The year 1996 introduced Windsor to Lego land; a theme park where Lego and Duplo bricks take a life of their own and everything in the park is constructed using Lego bricks. It replaced Windsor Safari Park, which closed down when it went into receivership. Even the rides appear to have been made of Lego bricks and while children are the focus behind the Park, adults can have their share of fun too on rides like the Jungle Coaster. There is Miniland where millions of Lego bricks create famous buildings and landmarks from countries in Europe and USA with accompanying street scenes, brought to life in every minute detail to add authenticity. While having the fun at the park you will have a chance to meet Lego characters who add a fun element especially for the children.
Other attractions include rides in Lego cars or on the dragon in the Dragon Knights castle, where you ride through the castle with animated Lego models watching you as you fly by. Visit the pirate falls if you do not mind getting wet or the 3D Imagination show where special effects leave you sitting on the edge of your seat. The park brings new features every year and this year a new attraction on offer for public is the new Kingdom of the Pharaohs. Lego Land is a place worth visiting in Windsor especially if you are one of those who love having fun and are looking for ways to keep the whole family entertained.
Windsor Racecourse has a long history of racing starting from the times of King Henry VIII and with the first race meeting held in 1866 the tradition continues until today. People from all over the world visit this beautiful area, which starts from the banks of the River Thames and is close to the main Windsor Town Centre. It has the added facility to host events like weddings and business meetings while enjoying background views of Windsor Castle or panoramic views of the racecourse.
Families frequent the racecourse for barbecues and fun days out in summer where trips down the River Thames are an added attraction. A place where well known people and celebrities can be spotted having a flutter on the horses or just attending some of the many events and garden parties that have become a part of the whole Windsor Racecourse experience