If it’s a walk in an English woodland that you’re looking for then a visit to meet the remarkable trees of Swinley Forest in Berkshire is for you. Situated to the south-west of Windsor Great Park the forest stretches from Bracknell, in the north, to Bagshot, in the south. It is owned and managed by the Crown Estate and comprises over 2,600 acres (11 km2) of woodland across gently undulating hills. The part of the forest that we visited on this occasion is accessed via the A332 Swinley Road between Bracknell and Ascot. (map) As you drive down Swinley Road you will see a large sign pointing the way to Beaumont Timber Products Limited. Turn in here and park on the left just before the entrance to the sawmill. (streetview) This is where the poo bin is.
After parking continue on foot along the tarmac lane towards the forest, passing the first metal vehicle barrier. Immediately before the timber yard ahead, turn right, past another vehicle barrier, signed to Swinley Forest Firewood Department and continue past the entrance to the firewood department on the left and keep ahead as the track begins to enter the forest.
Once you are on this track you can choose to do a loop around the forest of approximately 3.5 miles or meander in and out following different tracks as and when you fancy. It is a popular place with doggy people so you are likely to see other people with their four-legged friends.
Most if the forest paths are stone or tarmac forest tracks but there are a few sections of grass tracks which can be quite muddy after wet weather. The trees are generally pretty stunning, but there are masses of really special old Oaks that now look more like sculptures than trees. These ancient trees give the woods a magical air, especially on a misty morning. Some of the woodland is carpeted with masses of bluebells in the spring, as well as cowslips here and there. Swinley Forest is a great place for feeling as though you have got away from it all, without driving miles to get away from it all!