Monday, April 6, 2009

What's so great about The Great Park?

We love to walk around the town of Windsor. I’ve mentioned the castle in another post and also the wonderful shopping. And, you can easily walk across the bridge to Eton which is home to Eton College and many lovely antique shops. But one of our favourite things to do in Windsor is to go walking in the Great Park. The Windsor Great Park dates back to 1200something and is approximately 5,000 acres of land that was originally the private hunting ground of Windsor Castle. It’s a massive amount of space and the Queen often rides her horses in here somewhere and if I figure out exactly where I'll let you know. Like I said though, it's 5,000 acres.

Sunday afternoon we took our dog Dixie for a walk/run in the park. We strolled along what is known as The Long Walk which runs for 3 miles from Windsor Castle all the way to Snow Hill where a statue of King George III sits atop a copper horse. As you might have guessed Dixie gets very excited about anything with ‘long walk’ in the title.

It’s so pretty here…

...when you’re looking down the Long Walk you almost forget there’s a big Castle behind you.

There’s a lot in the park besides just great places to walk….for one thing, there is a deer park at one end and a herd of semi-wild deer make their home here. A Royal Lodge is in the center of the park and it is now the official residence of the Duke of York (the public is not invited here). Frogmore House and the Royal Mausoleum where Queen Victoria and Prince Albert are buried are within the park grounds as well as the beautiful Savill Gardens.

On what was the one and only truly hot hot hot day of the summer of 2008 my husband and I attended the Cartier International Polo Match held on the polo grounds in The Great Park. Anyone can purchase tickets but they sell out fast. I’d never seen polo played before and I have to tell you I absolutely loved it. Before play began they 'ran the hounds' across the field.

At first I thought I’d feel sorry for the ponies, particularly considering it was about a thousand degrees outside, but it was obvious they loved it too. The game is really exciting and fast moving. The riders effortlessly changed out the horses every few minutes throughout the entire match and the horses ran like the wind. The players were amazing (amazingly cute too!) and they made hanging on to a horse going at mach speed all while smacking a ball and dodging other players also on horses going at mach speed with wildly swinging polo mallets look easy. Balls fly hard and fast and they do give a warning upfront to the crowd to ‘mind the ball’ in case one comes your way. I think it’s safe to say that the British are king of the understatement.

At ‘halftime’ everyone comes out of the stands and stomps the divots. And yes you do feel just like Julia Roberts. And when the match ends there's a parade -

-then trophies are presented and celebrities come out of their VIP boxes for all the world to see.

Yes that is the adorable Emma Watson of Harry Potter fame. Well it’s her back anyway, she's in the very cute off white dress.... I was a little slow with the camera because I was completely distracted by this...

Yes indeed I most certainly am standing just an arm’s length from Prince Charles.

What's so great about the Great Park? Pretty much everything.


  1. I just love reading your posts because they give me all sorts of ideas of places to visit next. Thankyouverymuch. :-)

    How awesome was that to see Prince Charles and enjoy what seems like a great game? We must get to Windsor!

    How have you been? The weather has been mind boggling, hasn't it?

  2. The Great Park is beautiful!!! And to think that you got that close to Prince Charles. That was neat! I went to Windsor Castle when I was in the UK. I bet the polo match was fun too. You all have had such wonderful adventures while living abroad. I hope life won't be too boring when you come back to the states. You will love being back home to be able to see your girls more. That will certainly be a plus! Have a great week. Enjoy this Easter season. It has turned freezing cold today after being in the 70's yesterday. It is snowing where my daughter is in school. Weird weather we are having!!! Love & blessings from NC!

  3. What a nice day. I just love reading about your adventures.

  4. The Great Park is so beautiful. What fun to be able to go for a walk (with cute little Dixie!!) and be able to see a castle in the background. That doesn't happen to many of us. So neat!

    I love all that your shared about the polo match too. Before I read on I immediately thought of Julia Roberts in "Pretty Woman" :)

    I can't believe you were that close to Prince Charles!! I'm so glad you were able to snap a picture.

    Thanks again for sharing your adventures and the pictures. I really do feel like I'm getting to know so much more about England and in a fun and interesting way. I am just a tad envious! ;)

    Have a great day, Joyce.


  5. I thoroughly enjoy reading about your adventures. Such excitement and beautiful pictures. Thanks once again.