In the latest edition of Cycling Active is my article on a bicycle ride around Virgnia Water and Windsor Great Park.
The photo shoot for this took place almost a year ago - in August, on the day of the Ride London bike festival. As I was also going to be reporting on that event which was taking place in Central London I needed to do this photo shoot quite early in the morning so as to finish early.
I met with Roo, the photographer at around 8pm. It was a lovely sunny morning for this - perfect for a leisure ride around the park. It was also handy to get there early as there were more and more dog walkers turning up - and in those areas the pooch rules the roost! The folks around there turn up with their prestigious purebreds, and they have priority over the paths. This is no place for a cyclist to be hogging the path when people are giving their King Charles Spaniels and their Dalmatians and their Beagles a doggie parade along the catwalk in front of Virginia Water Lake!
It had been a couple of years since I was last at Virginia Water. The last time I was there was about four years ago - this time with a different photographer, and on a longer route. That was a more challenging day for me as I hadn't been feeling very well and the photographer had travelled down from Sheffield to do the work. I hadn't even been able to appreciate the beauty and splendour of Virgina Water Lake and the adjoining Windsor Great Park.
Today was a different matter. I had a real feel-good factor as it was the height of summer. Also, as I was on a leisure bike dressed in civvies everything felt quite leisurely, especially as the ride was just 10 miles. Having said that, the ride wasn't without effort. The ride up to the Copper Statue near the Long Walk was still just as challenging, and I had to push a fair bit. My bike for the day was a Raleigh Cameo Green, which I was testing out. I have to say that even though the bike doesn't have the range of gears on a road bike it still did the trick getting me up the hill and I felt quite comfortable in the saddle.
Also there was a long section around the Savill Building where the path was unsurfaced so it was more like an off-road ride. I was later rewarded by a lovely descent from the Windsor Great Park Village back into Virginia Water. We stopped off at the Village Store and Post Office for a tea stop - a popular stopping point for cyclists. But I have to admit I was more in the mood for an ice cream from one of the many Wall's Vans dispersed around the route.
I would definitely recommend this route - even if you're not on a bike this is a lovely place to hang out. And you don't even need to have a dog!