At the south-western end of Windsor Great Park, Virginia Water Lake is a man-made feature thought to have been originally created in the 17th century from a stream of the same name. The circuit round the lake is 7.2 km (4.5 mi) and is half-paved, half natural path, easily negotiable for all. The route features mature planting of trees and plants; and Frost Farm Plantation at the south western end is a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
Virginia Water is also a village in the Borough of Runnymede in Surrey and its eponymous water includes bodies of water stretching over the borders of Runnymede, Old Windsor and Sunninghill and Ascot. The Village takes its name from the lake in neighbouring Windsor Great Park in Surrey. Also on the eastern edge of Windsor Great Park are the Valley Gardens, 220 acres (0.89 km2) of landscaped botanical gardens planted from themiddle of the 18th century and under the oversight of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother from 1946.
The gardens are famed for their unrivalled collections of flowering plants, shrubs and trees, including azaleas, camellias, magnolias and daffodils. Trees include native chestnut and Scots Pine, flowering cherries, exotic oaks, sweet gums, tupelos, Asiatic rowans and maples. They also feature what is said to be the largest planting of rhododendrons in the world, covering 50 acres (200,000 m2); and a 10 acre (40,000 m2) heather garden, providing interest all year round. The most famous of the valley is the Punch Bowl, a swell of multi-coloured azaleas which bursts into flower and colour in early May.
There is a selection of recommended walking routes through the gardens, each between 2 - 2.5 km (1.25 to 1.5 miles) which allow to you make the most of the views and experience the full magnificence of the gardens. These include the Hilltop Route, the Discovery Route and the Lakeside Route. However, you are also free to wander the tracks and pathways to discover the area by yourself. Cycling and fishing are permitted in the wider Windsor Great Park - pike, carp, tench and bream are commonly caught. Fishing by permit only is allowed in season (mid-June to mid-March) – The park opens all year round, dawn until dusk. Cycling is allowed on certain pathways within the park, clearly marked.
The Valley Gardens are off the A30, the nearest rail stations are at Egham, Windsor and Virginia Water. The National Cycle Route 4 passes through Windsor Great Park and there is an extensive network of roads and tracks where cycling is permitted.