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Explore Surrey: Runnymede Memorial Trail

There are currently 1 comments and 4 photos online for this walk.

Explore Surrey: Runnymede Memorial Trail
Author: exploresurrey, Published: 20 Jan 2016 Walk rating : Rating:star1 Explore Surrey: Runnymede Memorial Trailstar1 Explore Surrey: Runnymede Memorial Trailstar1 Explore Surrey: Runnymede Memorial Trailstar1 Explore Surrey: Runnymede Memorial Trailstar0 Explore Surrey: Runnymede Memorial Trail
Surrey, Englefield Green
Walk Type: History trail
Explore Surrey: Runnymede Memorial Trail
Length: 5 miles,  Difficulty: boot Explore Surrey: Runnymede Memorial Trail boot Explore Surrey: Runnymede Memorial Trail boot Explore Surrey: Runnymede Memorial Trail
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0017_cloudy_with_light_rain Explore Surrey: Runnymede Memorial TrailToday's weather
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A 7km (4.5 mile) circular walk from Cooper’s Hill in Englefield Green taking in the Runnymede meadows, a stretch of the River Thames and visiting three beautiful memorials along the way, the John F Kennedy Memorial, the Magna Carta Memorial and the Air Forces Memorial. This walk is part of the Explore Surrey collection, published through a collaboration between iFootpath and Surrey County Council.

The walk has several climbs and descents throughout. The majority of the paths are unsurfaced and so can get very muddy at times and the route also crosses some water meadows which can have standing water, so good boots are a must and wellingtons will be needed in the wetter months. There are no stiles on route, but you will need to negotiate some kissing gates and some steps. There are a few road crossings that need particular care. A couple of the fields may be holding livestock so take care with dogs. The Air Forces Memorial is closed on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Approximate time 3 hours (in order to allow enough time to explore the memorials).

There are public toilets alongside the car park at the start of the walk, and in the summer months there is a refreshment chalet alongside the River Thames. If you are looking for refreshments after your walk, you will find many pubs, restaurants and cafes in Englefield Green. Ordnance Survey Map: Explorer 160 Windsor, Weybridge and Bracknell. This walk follows public footpaths and bridleways which cross private and public land. Information is included for your interest, but please respect people’s privacy, keep dogs under control and remember the Countryside Code.

The walk starts and finishes from the free car park on Cooper’s Hill Lane, just north of Englefield Green. The car park is alongside the recreation ground (at the junction between Hollycombe and Cooper’s Hill Lane) and is marked with brown tourism signs as the car park for the Air Forces Memorial. The nearest post code is for Hollycombe TW20 0LQ. For help with planning your journey by public transport please visit http://journeys.travelsmartsurrey.info.

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Walk Sections

Start to Priest Hill Farm
Start to Priest Hill Farm

Start point: 51.437 lat, -0.5687 long
End point: 51.4438 lat, -0.5702 long

Leave the car park onto Cooper’s Hill Lane and turn left along the road (heading away from the signed Air Forces Memorial, which we will visit at the end of the walk), taking care of any traffic. Pass between a handful of houses and then ignore the side road on the left, simply follow the main lane ahead with a red brick boundary wall running on the right.

NOTE: Extra care is needed for the next stretch as the main road can be busy. Follow the lane all the way to the T-junction at the end (keeping left at the fork to reach this). With care, turn right along the narrow grass verge and follow this steadily downhill (along Priest Hill). You can cross over the road to join the pavement running on the left-hand side of the road if you prefer.

Part way down the hill, turn right through the white gate to join the tarmac lane signed as a public footpath. Simply follow this tarmac lane leading you steadily downhill for some distance. At the bottom you will reach Priest Hill Farm.

Priest Hill Farm to Magna Carta Memorial
Priest Hill Farm to Magna Carta Memorial

Start point: 51.4438 lat, -0.5702 long
End point: 51.4446 lat, -0.5659 long

Keep straight ahead (passing the buildings of Priest Hill Farm on your right) to join the unmade track leading you past a National Trust Runnymede sign on your left. At the junction, keep straight ahead and the path will lead you directly to a cobbled clearing which is home to the simple stone memorial to John F Kennedy. The 7-ton block of Portland Stone is thought to be around 100 million years old.

With your back to the memorial, walk straight ahead and follow the cobbled steps (the steps of individuality) continuing downhill. There are 50 steps in all, each representing one of the States of the USA. Each of the cobble setts are said to represent the multitude of pilgrims on their journey to enlightenment.

At the bottom of the steps, go through the kissing gate into Runnymede fields and turn right, following the stream and boundary fence on your right. Just before you reach the field corner, turn right through the wooden gate to enter the site of the Magna Carta Memorial, which is worth taking your time to explore.

The Magna Carta (which translates from Latin as the Great Charter) is a charter that was agreed by King John in these very fields back in 1215. The charter was written in a bid to make peace between the King and a group of rebel barons who strongly believed the King should not be above the law. Runnymede was chosen as the meeting place to sign the charter as it was located on neutral ground between the royal fortress at Windsor Castle and the rebel’s base in Staines. The water-logged nature of the meadows also gave reassurance to both sides that they would not face military threat. Magna Carta represented a major step forward in political reform, promising protection of church rights, protection from illegal imprisonment, access to swift justice and limitations on royal powers. Many of these principles still stand today including trial by jury and other civil liberties. The domed classical temple memorial, dedicated in 1957, is a tribute to Magna Carta and was built of Portland Stone with eight octagonal pillars. Surrounding the memorial are eight English oak trees.

Magna Carta Memorial to Queen Elizabeth Statue
Magna Carta Memorial to Queen Elizabeth Statue

Start point: 51.4446 lat, -0.5659 long
End point: 51.4416 lat, -0.5531 long

When you have finished exploring the memorial, leave via the gate from which you entered. Turn right for a few paces to reach the field corner. Do NOT go through the gate ahead, instead turn left along the field edge heading towards the road, with the wire fence running on your right. On your right you will pass a memorial plaque, marking the 800-year anniversary celebration of Magna Carta held in June 2015.

As you reach the road ahead, turn right through the kissing gate (NOTE: this field may be holding livestock) and follow the field edge with the fence and road running on your left. After 150 metres, turn left through the kissing gate and cross over Windsor Road with care, using the central island. At the far side, keep ahead across the grass verge and then turn right to join the Thames Path, with the River Thames running on your left and the road running on your right.

Continue on the Thames Path, following the river downstream and, further along, stay with the river as it swings left leading you away from the road. On the right you will come to a relatively new statue, of Queen Elizabeth II, which was unveiled in June 2015 as part of the 800-year anniversary Magna Carta celebrations. In front of the statue is an extract from Magna Carta that still forms part of today’s statutes: No free man shall be taken, imprisoned, stripped of his rights or possessions, outlawed or exiled or in any way ruined nor will We proceed against or prosecute him, except by the lawful judgement of his peers and by the law of the land. To no one will We sell, to no one deny or delay right to justice.

Queen Elizabeth Statue to Bell Weir Lock
Queen Elizabeth Statue to Bell Weir Lock

Start point: 51.4416 lat, -0.5531 long
End point: 51.4389 lat, -0.5398 long

Simply continue along the Thames Path with the river running on your left and the fields of Runnymede Pleasure Grounds on your right. You will pass the paddling pool and refreshment chalet on your right (and there are also signs for public toilets should you need them). Stay with the riverside path, keeping left at the fork to pass Wraysbury Skiff and Punting Club on your right.

Follow the riverside path passing properties lining each side of the river. Just beyond the large black commercial building on your right, ignore the bridleway signed to the right. Simply keep ahead on the Thames Path and you will come to a boatyard.

Your route will eventually turn to the right at this point but, before continuing, it is worth taking a detour further along the river to enjoy more river life. Keep ahead along the towpath, going over the humped bridge and continue until you reach Bell Weir Lock. In the summer this is a hive of activity as boats queue to pass through the lock, heading up and downstream. In the winter months, however, you are more likely to see birdlife here. We were lucky enough to see seven cormorants using the weir’s infrastructure as fishing posts.

Bell Weir Lock to Cooper's Hill
Bell Weir Lock to Cooper's Hill

Start point: 51.4389 lat, -0.5398 long
End point: 51.4364 lat, -0.5564 long

When you have finished enjoying your time at the lock, turn round and walk back along the towpath heading back to the boatyard. Cross the humped bridge over the water inlet and, immediately after the boatyard buildings, turn left down the tarmac access road, called Yard Mead. At the end of the road you will come to a junction with Windsor Road. Cross over with care and go through the staggered barrier to enter the field ahead. Take the tarmac path which leads you across the field at about 11 o’clock.

About 10 paces before the wooden barrier at the end of the field, stop and look to the right. You will see a choice of two subtle grass paths across the grass water meadow. Take the right-hand of these two paths, heading for the summit of the tree-covered hill in the distance (you may be able to see a cream-coloured property peeping above the hilltop treeline). Follow this (often boggy) path directly ahead, passing through a small belt of reeds and trees and on to reach a wooden kissing gate at the far end. NOTE: If the ground is too waterlogged you could divert and follow the left-hand field boundary instead.

Pass through the kissing gate to enter a pasture (which may have livestock) and walk in the same direction, up the hillside to reach the gate at the top. Pass though the kissing gate to reach a junction with a rough vehicle track, Cooper’s Hill.

Cooper's Hill to End
Cooper's Hill to End

Start point: 51.4364 lat, -0.5564 long
End point: 51.4371 lat, -0.5687 long

Turn right joining the tarmac track which leads you steeply uphill. Further along, the track leads you past the entrance gates for a property on your left. Eventually, towards the top of the hill, ignore the gate into Cooper’s Hill Wood on your right. Simply stay with the main track which swings left and then becomes a road passing university halls of residence on your left. Beyond these buildings, stay with the vehicle lane swinging right. After 40 metres you will reach the entrance gates for the Air Forces Memorial on your right. This is well worth exploring.

The memorial, unveiled in 1953, consists of a shrine enclosed by cloisters. More than 116,000 men and women of the commonwealth air forces gave their lives during World War II. This memorial is a fitting tribute to the 20,000 with no known graves. Make your way through the central courtyard (noting the names listed within the cloisters) and, at the far side, you will find a balcony with views across the River Thames. If you able, it is well worth climbing the spiral staircase to reach the roof-top viewing platform. On a clear day this will give you magnificent views of Windsor Castle, Heathrow Airport and beyond.

When you have finished exploring, return to the road and turn right to continue your journey. Continue past the Air Forces Memorial Lodge on your right and, further along you will come to the Cooper’s Hill Lane car park on your left, where the walk began. If you are looking for refreshments, it is just a short drive into Englefield Green where you will find a number of pubs, cafes and restaurants.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2016 by the author exploresurrey and may not be reproduced without permission.


1 responses to "Explore Surrey: Runnymede Memorial Trail"

This was a very nice interesting walk. The three memorials are all well worth a visit in their own right. We walked this after heavy rain overnight and were glad of wellingtons when we got to the section from Bell Weir Lock to Coopers Hill. The path across the water meadows was about 1-2 inches of water (and lots of seagulls) r until we got to the reeds and then it was over my boots. By turning left to the edge of the field you could pick up the other path and there was a muddy bridge that let you cross a water filled ditch leading to the reeds. We continued along the edge until an earlier kissing gate and then walked in the pasture until the time came to go up the hill.
Great walk though and can thoroughly recommend.

By dgclark on 2016-02-07 17:11:50

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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4 images to "Explore Surrey: Runnymede Memorial Trail"

5411_0Richard1453279314 Explore Surrey: Runnymede Memorial Trail Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 01 Jan 1970
The John F Kennedy memorial.
5411_1Richard1453279314 Explore Surrey: Runnymede Memorial Trail Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 01 Jan 1970
Queen Elizabeth Statue by the River Thames.
5411_2Richard1453279314 Explore Surrey: Runnymede Memorial Trail Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 01 Jan 1970
The Air Forces Memorial - well worth a visit.
5411_3Richard1453279314 Explore Surrey: Runnymede Memorial Trail Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 01 Jan 1970
The views from the Air Forces Memorial are spectacular. This was our view in January 2016.

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