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Swinley Forest from Bagshot

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Swinley Forest from Bagshot
Author: Claire, Published: 11 May 2013 Walk rating : Rating:star1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar0 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
Surrey, Bagshot
Walk Type: Woodland
Swinley Forest from Bagshot
Length: 6 miles,  Difficulty: boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
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A 6 mile circular forest walk into Swinley Forest starting from Vicarage Road in Bagshot. The walk passes though a lovely mix of landscapes including pine forest, mixed woodland and open heath. There’s plenty of opportunity to enjoy wildlife with both deer and a huge variety of birds in plentiful supply.

The route has a few climbs and descents and there are no stiles, just a few gates. The forest tracks and paths are reasonably well made but of course can get muddy after periods of wet weather. This section of the forest is a popular mountain bike area so you will be sharing the paths with bikes and some areas of the forest are grazed using Belted Galloway cattle so take care with dogs. There are no toilet or refreshment facilities on route. Approximate time 2 to 2.5 hours.

The walk starts from the end of Vicarage Road (off Church Lane and alongside St Anne’s Church) in Bagshot, just off the M3 in Surrey. Approximate post code GU19 5EJ. There are spaces for a few cars in the gravel lay-by at the end of Vicarage Road. If these are full, park along Vicarage Road or Church Lane with respect for the local residents.

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Walk Sections

Start to Barrosa Grazing Area
Start to Barrosa Grazing Area

Start point: 51.3611 lat, -0.7018 long
End point: 51.3612 lat, -0.7185 long

From the end of Vicarage Lane, keep straight ahead on the gravel track, passing alongside a vehicle barrier and heading directly into the forest. After some distance follow the track as it crosses over a pipe stream. Pass by an open clearing on the right and a few yards later you’ll come to a fork with a gate and the overhead cables crossing the right-hand fork. Keep left at this fork onto the slightly smaller forest path.

A little distance in you’ll pass through a set of upright wooden posts. Keep ahead on the woodland path with the power lines running parallel over to the right. You may need to skirt around some fallen trees. Eventually you will come to a single metal gate ahead marking the entrance to the Barrosa Grazing Area.

Barrosa Grazing Area to MOD Area
Barrosa Grazing Area to MOD Area

Start point: 51.3612 lat, -0.7185 long
End point: 51.3589 lat, -0.7265 long

Pass through the gate and go straight ahead (note there are cattle grazing in this section at certain times of the year). Keep close to the fence line on the right for a few paces and then, as the fence veers right, keep ahead climbing steadily with the power lines still running parallel to the right.

Belted Galloway cattle are provided by Surrey Wildlife Trust to graze and conserve this section of open heath. The heath provides a valuable habitat for many creatures and plants including orchids, lizards and several rare ground nesting birds.

Follow the sandy heath track as it climbs steeply and across to the left you’ll see a communications tower. At the brow of the hill keep left at the fork and a little distance further you will reach a clearing with a large concrete pillbox. Cross the clearing at 2 o’clock, keeping just to the left of the pillbox, and then turn immediately left to join a fairly wide track through the heath. Continue on the path lined with gorse and silver birch and then pass through the gate ahead to leave the grazing area. You’ll notice the danger signs here to confirm you have now reached the MOD training area.

MOD Area to Lower Star Post
MOD Area to Lower Star Post

Start point: 51.3589 lat, -0.7265 long
End point: 51.3687 lat, -0.7442 long

Turn right onto the wide forest track with the fenced grazing area now over to the right. Follow the main stone drive as it heads downhill and then swings steadily to the left. On the right you’ll notice some wooden horse jumps, which are used as part of the Staff College and Royal Military Academy Sandhurst Drag Hunt.

Established in 1869, this Drag Hunt (a type of hunting which does not involve live quarry) is the oldest in the country. The hunt meets every week during the hunting season and consists of a human runner dragging a bag of scent across country being ‘hunted’ by hounds and horses. The riders include both the military (using the exercise to improve their riding ability) as well as civilians.

Ignore the metal kissing gate on the right, instead just keep ahead on the main track. Follow the path through an S-bend and ignore another gate on the right. A few paces later at the fence corner, turn right and follow the fence line close on the right (don’t join the main track running over to the left here). At the end of the fence, go through the metal kissing gate and turn left onto the main forest track running under the power lines. Eventually you will emerge to a junction of eight paths with a sign post marking the junction as Lower Star Post.

Lower Star Post to Main Ride T-junction
Lower Star Post to Main Ride T-junction

Start point: 51.3687 lat, -0.7442 long
End point: 51.3739 lat, -0.7264 long

Take the third path on the right, signed for Windsor Ride. A few paces in you’ll reach a major fork, keep right here. Follow this forest track for some distance ignoring any minor paths off to the left and right.

Overall, Swinley Forest covers 2,600 acres and is managed by Crown Estate. Whilst now predominantly a pine plantation, the area was once part of Windsor Forest and some of the ancient trees remain.

Continue until you meet a major staggered crossroads (with a wooden post with red arrows on the right). Turn right here and a few yards in you’ll reach another junction of paths – bear slightly right here on the path at 1’oclock. Follow the track heading fairly steeply downhill. Keep ahead at the next crossroads and the path continues to descend. At the bottom of the hill you’ll come to a T-junction with the main forest ride.

Main Ride T-junction to End
Main Ride T-junction to End

Start point: 51.3739 lat, -0.7264 long
End point: 51.3621 lat, -0.7037 long

Turn right here onto the main forest ride. At the next junction, with another Swinley Forest metal signpost, turn left signed for Lake Ride. Take the second turning on the right and follow this path over the brow of a small hill and then along a straight flat section. A few hundred yards ahead, keep a look out on the left for a disused gateway and metal railings that mark the entrance to a fenced ancient lane. Fork left to join this lane with lines of trees and barbed-wire fences running each side.

As you emerge from the ancient lane keep straight ahead on the long straight forest track. Continue for some distance and you will emerge back to Vicarage Road where the walk began.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2013 by the author clairesharpuk and may not be reproduced without permission.

3 comments for "Swinley Forest from Bagshot"

Great walk. Really enjoyed it.

By withnejf on 11 Jan 2014

lovely and cyclist friendly..will make this a regular route!

By cpeters87 on 21 Mar 2015

Perfect to open your appetite on a spring morning.

By dlkhain on 08 Apr 2016

The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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