Egham to Runnymede countryside circular walk
Escape the crowds and take a wander through ancient woodlands, secretive wetlands and open wildflower meadows. This circular route takes you around Runnymede nature reserve. Explore Langham Pond and the ancient woodlands which form a Site of Special Scientific Interest for their many rare and endangered species and the rich wildflower meadows that are home to the birthplace the Magna Carta.
Egham railway station, grid ref. TQ0110771039
On the London-bound (ticket office) side of the track, exit the station and turn right onto Station Road
At the traffic lights turn left. Pass Strodes College on your right.
At the roundabout, cross the A30 using the staggered pedestrian crossing to your right and continue in the same direction as the traffic.
Turn left into Coopers Hill Lane, Langham Farm access. Continue up the path, with the Runnymede meadows to your right.
Winter and spring delights
Along this path, small yet mature trees with their crevices and cavities provide great habitat for small birds. In the late winter and early spring, this path becomes a magical sight as long-tailed tits flutter from the trees in front of you. During later spring, look out for blue tits and great tits nesting in tree cavities.
You’ll come to a kissing gate to your right onto the meadows with one ahead of you into Coopers Hill Woods. Continue ahead into Coopers Hill Woods.
Stop to admire the view
This is a perfect spot to see the sun rise over the horizon or set in beautiful surroundings. You may also spot fallow and muntjac deer grazing below on the meadows.
Continue along this woodland path for about 15 minutes.
This woodland path can provide fascinating sights throughout the year. Winter is a great time of year to have a good look at the ancient oak trees. Without the leaves, you can see their characteristic hollows, weep marks, knots and crooked twisting stems. Look for hollows made by woodpeckers. The woods come to life in the spring as flowers create a carpet of colour; spot vivid bluebells and delicate wood anemones. The leaves unfurl, fresh and green after winter. In the summer, search the sunny edges to catch a glimpse of woodland butterflies.
Continue through the kissing gate ahead of you, walking onto the grazed meadows. Walk ahead with the line of oak trees to your left.
With the Magna Carta memorial ahead of you, go through the kissing gate on your right. Turn right again through another kissing gate to enter a grazed meadow. You’re now on the return leg of your walk. On your right you'll see an ancient field boundary of willow pollards. These may have originally been pollarded to enable barons and royalty to ride on their horses beneath the trees, without banging their heads. Now, these willows continue to be pollarded, and are home to a wealth of endangered wildlife, including insects, fungi, birds and bats.
Memorials and a cup of tea
If you have time to break off this walk, instead of going through the second kissing gate on your right, walk to your left. From here, you can visit the Magna Carta memorial and read the history of the Magna Carta, considered the foundation of the free world and individual freedom. You can also visit the John F. Kennedy Memorial Stone; a seven-tonne block of Portland stone set in a symbolic acre of American soil. Pause on the Seats of Contemplation for stunning views across Runnymede to the River Thames.
At the end of the meadow you’ll come to Langham Pond, an oxbow lake on your right. Walk over to your left where you’ll see a break in the hedge line on your right. Climb over the stile here, and follow the path through the rich wildflower meadow.
Pond and wildflower meadow
Langham Pond is fed by natural springs in the woodlands above. The wetlands here are home to a rich variety of flora and fauna, including many rare and endangered species. In recognition of this, they are designated (along with the woodland) as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), protected under law. The wildflower and hay meadows have been managed in the same simple way for centuries. They are left to grow and cut for hay in summer. This ensures poor soil conditions needed to help native wild flowers thrive.
Follow the boardwalk through the reedbed. On leaving the reedbed, take the diagonal trodden path to your left and go through the metal kissing gate on the opposite side of the meadow.
Listen for the reed warbler
This secluded reedbed provides a nesting site for shy water birds. In spring, look out for the reed bunting balancing on a reed, and listen to the repetitive churring song of the reed warbler.
You’re now back on the grazed meadows. Turn left and follow the hedge line. When you've passed through the hedge line in front of you, walk diagonally right towards the farm buildings.
With the farm buildings on your left, go through the kissing gate in the corner of the meadow. You’re now back on Coopers Hill Lane. Turn left towards A30 and trace your route back to Egham railway station.
Egham railway station, grid ref. TQ0110771039
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