A Sunday Stroll at Virginia Water, Surrey

For the benefit of my readers outside the UK, let me start by telling you that Surrey is a leafy county in the south-east of England and just outside London. Frequently cited as one of the most sought after regions of the country to live in, its proximity to the Big Smoke makes it prime property along the commuter belt.

VIrginia Water Surrey blog

Surrey’s sprawling suburban mansions see its streets filled with young families seeking reams of school choices and with green-fingered pensioners, deserving of a more serene retreat in their retirement. More personally, for me, it also happens to be where I spent most of my childhood, a county I pop back to every two or three weekends, usually when I am craving a fix of my Mum’s biriyani.

lake views Surrey

It wouldn’t be proper to describe Surrey as my former home, when candidly, in my somewhat clingy heart, it will always remain my other home.

day trips from London

That’s not to say, though, that I have always sung the praises of this particular home county. Growing up, I had a relationship just short of love/hate with the place. Adolescents often see the world through a clinical dichotomy of charcoal blacks and prism whites but when it came to my feelings on my own neighbourhood, mostly, I was indifferent.

flowers Virginia Water

Tree-lined streets, ample parking and low crime rates might sit firmly on the checklist of a 30-something potential new homeowner but unsurprisingly, these aren’t qualities that leave a lasting impression on a younger crowd.

feeding ducks Surrey

For me, all the things I loved about living there were the very building blocks that make a family home a home: the long summer days when my sister and I would propel shuttlecocks above imaginary nets in the garden, the enticing aroma of a Mother’s meal bubbling over on the hob, the family dinners where we would all share stories from our day (reportedly, I dominated the chat then just as much as I do now.)

Windsor Great Park summer

As affectionately as I recall these memories though, it wasn’t Surrey that made them but rather the love exuded within the walls of that home. My parents could have created the same home, even if they lived in a field in the outer Hebrides.

Samsung S7 photographs

As a teenager in Surrey, the only place I ever really wanted to be was London (if you excuse that temporary obsession I had with the US that was the product of watching too many sitcoms). With its shimmering night lights, grumpy commuters, its Mind the Gaps and its 4am Chinese meals, I was infatuated with the very notion of life in the capital and I would have done anything to achieve it.

Two decades later, not much has changed. I’m still deeply in love, this time by the very essence of my reality here. I guess you could say I’m fiercely loyal like that – but even I need to escape the city at times.

Surrey lakes

With my childhood home being just a mere 25 minutes by train from London Waterloo, I now have the best of both worlds and finally, after all these years, I am just starting to take a few moments to truly explore the county I grew up in. This summer, more than any other, whilst England has been basking in a most uncharacteristic wave of tropical temperatures (okay, today is not the best example), my tribe and I have been moseying around in Surrey’s nooks and crannies to delve into the areas that failed to capture my imagination as a child but now draw me in for idyllic weekend retreats from the city.

Surrey days out

Virginia Water, Surrey

Virginia Water was the first stop on my tour into Surrey hot spots this year. Its very name conjures up images of plump, well-fed ducks gliding along ponds and estate agents boasting collections of unaffordable 8-bedroom mansions but even our brief Sunday stroll in the area was enough to leave me in no doubts as to why.

pink flowers England spring

This vast stretch of greenery technically falls under the umbrella of the Windsor Great Park but if you think you can scurry through it in a conservative two-hour time slot, as I mistakenly did, you will soon be silenced. The ground here is just asking to be explored, from leisurely lakeside ambles to more considered meandering between mazes of roses.

best parks and gardens Surrey

As one of those rare charming public spaces that embraces all flavours, Virginia Water is every bit as suitable for Sunday snoozing as it is for Sunday strolling. The lazier docile among us may use it as a sleepy base, where we fish out cheddar-laden crackers and summer strawberries from the depths of an over-stuffed wicker hamper, whilst rummaging around for the mal-functioning Frisbee we just never quite got round to replacing.

easy days out from London

The calorie burners, in contrast, set out early and pace for miles, their battered hiking boots transporting them well beyond the loop of the lake into the more rugged walking paths concealed within the park.

Visit Surrey highlights

Nature lovers, photographers (and bloggers excited by their new Samsung S7s) may be found bursting to use their ‘no filter’ hashtags, whilst framing the striking intensity of fuschia blossoms against piercing blue sky backdrops.

ancient ruins Surrey

And for those less au fait with geology, nuggets of ancient history make themselves known in the most unexpected corners of the park. You may have imagined you were here for a cognitively un-challenging family day at a Surrey park but the Leptis Magna ruins housed here (brought into the UK from Libya in the 1800s) will rapidly re-activate your neurones.

Leptis Magna Ruins Virginia Water
Leptis Magna Ruins

Inevitably however, one most certainly needs re-fuelling after an afternoon of duck-feeding, swan-spotting, historical education and flower-gazing (doesn’t quite have the same romanticism as star-gazing on a tropical beach but if it implies an afternoon of sunshine in such laid back surroundings, I will gladly take it.)

red velvet cake Surrey

We re-fuel well in our household, none of us shy of obtaining our fill over cups of tea and blocks of cake. That my sister and I queued for around 20 minutes, ordered our scones and cake and forgot to order my Mum’s slice is most definitely deserving of a proverbial slap on our wrists but fortunately, Mother dear is a forgiving and selfless soul and fortunately, the Virginia Water bakery Gods at are not shy with their slicing, meaning none of us went without.

cafe cake Virginia Water

From moist red velvets to beautifully hand-iced carrot motifs, the cakes were a bargain given their drool-factor but then I live my life comparing prices to London so that perhaps doesn’t mean much but try a slab yourself to be the judge.

Surrey Totem Pole monuments

One would imagine that the best views over Virginia Water are found at the top of the Totem pole but since I am 99% certain that climbing it is neither permissible nor safe, luckily the views from human eye level are not too shabby either.

Totem Pole, Surrey
Totem Pole, Virginia Water

My main passion and ambition in life, when I am not at work, is to keep travelling and seeing more of the world but when you locate a space that houses a waterfall, a lake, a Totem pole, a flower garden and ancient ruins all within one space, you find that those travel adventures are often in far closer proximity than you could have imagined.

Cascade Waterfall Virginia Water
Cascade Waterfall, Virginia Water

39 thoughts on “A Sunday Stroll at Virginia Water, Surrey

  1. Such a fantastic spot. Love visiting there late Spring, when so many of the flowers are out. But didn’t realise there’s cake, Shikha! How did I miss that one!..

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) August 16, 2017 — 7:58 pm

      Haha, your cake snout obviously isn’t as sensitive as mine Aaron! 😀 We were there late Spring too & like you say, it was a lovely time of year to be there – definitely should have arrived earlier though as hadn’t realised how vast it is! Next time!

  2. lovely place to grow up in:)

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) August 16, 2017 — 7:59 pm

      Thanks Tanja! Surrey is lovely – very different to my London life even though they are so close but I love escaping back to Surrey for weekend breaks from urban life ☺

  3. Hahah obsession with the US! We aren’t so great… Clearly, given our current political landscape. Ugh. Anyway, love these photos!! That cake looks amazing.

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) August 16, 2017 — 8:10 pm

      Haha Jenn, well I think it was a lot more tempting in the pre Trump & in the Saved by the Bell era!! 😀 And I’ve always enjoyed my previous trips to the USA! The cakes were delicious – I’d happily go back just for another slice of that red velvet 😁

  4. A walking spot that has cake afterwards? Why have I never been? Think we’ll try to head here soon, it looks perfect for a run around spot (I mean running after toddler, not like jogging running!)

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) August 16, 2017 — 8:12 pm

      Haha, I imagine it’s perfect for both those forms of running! Honestly, for a park cafe, I was genuinely really impressed at how delicious those cakes were & very generous sized portions too, which was a perk we weren’t complaining about that’s for sure!😉

  5. Ooh this is along the road from me, I walk my dog here a lot! Beautiful place!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) August 16, 2017 — 8:19 pm

      Oh how lovely that you live so close by Becky! Your dog is a lucky thing to be treated to such pretty views! ☺ Such a beautiful day escape for Londoners as well as Surrey locals!

  6. We stayed in Virginia Water for a weekend away a few years ago and loved it. Such a pretty place! Although I do not remember having a slice of red velvet cake like that! Your poor mum – hope you shared!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) August 16, 2017 — 8:21 pm

      Oh did you?! I didn’t even realise there were hotels around there but such a lovely place for a weekend staycation! Honestly, that red velvet was so good, better than loads of the ones I’ve had for twice the price in many other bakeries! Yes felt so bad for forgetting Mum’s piece!

  7. Planes & Champagne August 15, 2017 — 10:29 pm

    What a gorgeous post Shikha!! Firstly that carrot OMG – I have an unhealthy obsession with cake hence why I’m mentioning it first ;), secondly I also dreamed of moving to the US…the sitcoms were definitely to blame for that! A number of my friends grew up in Surrey so I’ve had the pleasure of visiting a few times now but never to Virginia Water – it looks stunning! Definitely bookmarking this post for the future! xx

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) August 16, 2017 — 8:28 pm

      I’ll see your unhealthy cake obsession Maggie & raise it macarons, eclairs, chocolates, you name it!😀 Haha, totally thanks to the sitcoms – back then, I just thought the idea of prom or homecoming sounded like somethings out of a fairytale! I can’t believe I’d never been to Virginia Water till now having actually grown up in Surrey!

  8. CAKE! looks like the perfect way to spend a sunday afternoon!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) August 16, 2017 — 8:29 pm

      I’m not sure my leisurely one hour stroll justified the brick sized piece of of carrot cake but who am I to argue with their portion sizes eh Andy?! 😀

  9. My sister used to live here 🙂 so pretty!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) August 26, 2017 — 5:08 am

      Oh really?! What a stunning part of Surrey for her to have called home Angie. It was so lovely on a sunny spring day ☺

  10. A truly perfect place for a stroll, Shika! Are those flowers there all year long?

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) August 26, 2017 — 5:11 am

      Lol, sadly I doubt it Agness – I think the types of plants & flowers will just vary from season to season but I imagine it’s just as pretty year round.

  11. Hi Shikha!! I found your blog randomly (just while roaming the internet, you know how it is!) and was totally drawn in by your posts, mainly because I too am a London GP who loves to travel! In fact I’m off to Japan in October and have spent a happy hour or so reading all your Japan posts!!! Great info and writing!!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) August 26, 2017 — 5:17 am

      You’re a travel-loving fellow London GP too Anita?! Yay, welcome!! I’m so glad you stumbled upon my blog & made my day to hear that you had a read of my stuff. Thank you for your lovely comment too! So excited to hear you are going to Japan. Honestly, there are very few places that truly truly inspired me the way Japan did. I already want to plan another trip! I also have so much more I want to write about my travels there but you know how busy the day job can be (!) If there are any specific places or things you’d like any tips or info for for Japan that I haven’t managed to get on here yet, just let me know & I’d be happy to help ☺

  12. How did i miss all that…why wasnt i educated about all this when i was there 😣😣😣

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) August 26, 2017 — 5:21 am

      Haha, I’m not even sure that we knew about it then, especially considering I only made it there for the first time myself this year…or….maybe we were just saving up the good stuff for when you return here ☺☺

  13. Looks like a very pleasant place to grow up! And now, as you say, you have the best of both worlds – city and a bit of a rural escape…

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) September 4, 2017 — 10:25 am

      Exactly! I think that’s why I’m finally starting to really appreciate it now – sometimes you definitely have to step away from a place to see how special it is!

  14. Exploring new places at home, is such a great thing Shikha 🙂 Hehe I had to laugh a little that you forgot to order your mum slice of cake! Good thing they were generous portions!!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) September 4, 2017 — 10:28 am

      Terrible children we are aren’t we, forgetting poor Mum’s cake?! Honestly, if any of them had forgotten my cake after a 20 minute queue, I’d definitely not have been nearly as forgiving! 😉

  15. OMG those cakes <3. I didn't live too far from Virginia Water when I was younger, though I've never actually been there. Might have to make a little trip next spring when the flowers are looking as beautiful as they do in your photos!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) August 28, 2017 — 5:08 pm

      They were so moreish Laura!

  16. Oooooooooooh, lovely lovely, leafy Surrey! (Hah, I’m a poet and I didn’t know it!)

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) September 4, 2017 — 10:30 am

      Hehe, an offshoot poetry blog perhaps in the making Ems?!

  17. Do you know what, for somewhere that’s so close to London, I don’t think I’ve been to Surrey more than a handful of times. It looks so beautiful! And…cake. You’ve convinced me. x

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) September 4, 2017 — 10:32 am

      Well, we only lived around 15 minutes away most of my youth & I only made it this year Emily so you’re definitely forgiven for not yet making it! 😁 It’s so prerty though that I definitely recommend it for a lovely spring or summer day out.

  18. Kind of odd seeing this again after many decades. I used to live in Surrey (Burnt Common) and VW had a pub where we used to go to in our expensive sports cars, motorcycles and have a Sunday pint (can’t remember the name).

    The imported ruins and Totem pole are so indicative of Surrey. I think even half the trees are brought n from other countries and I used to crave for something native. However when you get away from all that onto the North Downs it’s a different story.

    The lake itself is nice, there seem to so few lakes in the UK, as compared to where I spent my early years in the Mid and Northwest of the States. It’s nice to see a good stretch of water now and then, with it’s wildfowl and foliage.

    Must admit, that cake looks good 😉

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) September 4, 2017 — 10:35 am

      Thanks so much for sharing your memories and experiences of the place Ted. Lovely to get a feel for how it was years before I lived in the area & I’ve not seen those parts of the US at all so would be so intriguing to think about the similarities and differences you must have observed between that area & Surrey. Thank you for reading.

  19. This is so pretty Shikha. I think it often takes moving away from a place to realise how much you love it!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) September 4, 2017 — 10:42 am

      I agree Emily! I think, because I was always a city girl at heart, I was definitely guilty of taking Surrey’s beautiful corners for granted so have been really enjoying reacquainting myself with the area!

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