What’s on offer at Windsor Great Park

PUBLISHED: 16:27 10 June 2015 | UPDATED: 16:27 10 June 2015

There are still deer in the park and on quieter days you might find yourself this close to a grazing herd passing through

There are still deer in the park and on quieter days you might find yourself this close to a grazing herd passing through

MAUREEN MCLEAN

It’s in the name and surely provides some of the most historic and evocative views in our county. Maureen McLean visits Windsor Great Park

The mangificent oaks stand out against the Great Park landscapeThe mangificent oaks stand out against the Great Park landscape

There are certain places where the sense of history is so substantial that you feel you can almost touch the past. Place a hand on one of the ancient oaks within the Great Park and the connection is instantly made – many of these now often hollowed and sunken gnarled trees, with remaining branches starkly sticking out it in all directions, are more than 1,000 years old.

Wood from their former companions in what was once a vast Norman hunting forest was probably used in the construction of Windsor Castle. Our 21st century dog walkers out with their Labs, assorted other breeds (and perhaps Corgis from just down the road) cross ground where Royal hunting parties and their swift hounds once chased down deer.

Today those on horseback you see in the park are doing so at a more leisurely pace, with a permit issued by The Crown Estate. It’s something of a surprise to discover this is the only Royal Park they manage, but there’s plenty to look after in the 5,000 acres of gardens, woodland and pathways enjoyed by nearly 3 million people a year.

While many see a leisurely Sunday afternoon stroll there as completing the week, others are early morning or lunchtime visitors, including runners who appreciate the (mostly) traffic-free wide open spaces; and cyclists, very welcome as long as they don’t race or travel at high speed as this could result in being asked to leave the park.

Just how far you stretch your legs is up to you. There’s the Long Walk, a handy measuring stick at around 2.65 miles from the castle’s George IV Gateway to The Copper Horse.

Just how many tourists, and local people, have a photograph of themselves beside The Copper Horse? It probably runs into millions. The statue stands at the top of Snow Hill (and when it does snow many of us hurry up there to take photos) and shows George III on horseback in the style of a Roman emperor. Families may well ponder its Latin inscription which translates to ‘The best of fathers’, many unaware that it was commissioned by his extravagant and unpopular son and successor, George VI. The two men are said to have disliked each other intently.

The Copper Horse, watching over nearly three million visitors each yearThe Copper Horse, watching over nearly three million visitors each year

Definitely put Windsor Great Park on your ‘Must Visit’ list this summer, whether it’s simply to join the strollers on a sunny afternoon, or perhaps enjoy either of the wonders of sunrise or sunset in this wonderful setting.

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