A Walk to Rapley Lake

This is a stroll of about 4.5 km (3 mile) or a mile further if you start from the village-centre car park. The paths used are not public rights of way but are in woods for which the Crown Estates have granted permissive access. There are no hills, the paths are often muddy in places. Allow at least 1 1/2 hours.

Since I first described this walk considerable forestry work has been carried out by Crown Estates which has left parts somewhat less attractive than they used to be. Many rhododendrons have been taken out and areas of old pines have been felled. This is part of a 20 year programme. The cleared areas are left fallow for a few years and then replanted with a variety of deciduous trees.

map The walk starts in Vicarage Road just beyond the houses on the right and opposite Connaught Rd. The nearest public car park is in the centre of Bagshot behind the Coop supermarket. If you park on-street locally please have regard for local residents and do not cause any obstruction.

Continue along Vicarage Road to the end of the surfacing, then go through the kissing gate on your right.

Turn right on the track the other side of the gate (ie doubling back on yourself) and follow it to the end (about 15m) and turn left. The path goes forward for about 100m then swings left. You will have a field on your right and newly planted trees on your left. Continue for 480m until you reach a broad track.  Turn right. Walk for 300m to where a low ridge crosses the track.

Go round the ridge on the left then move across to the right hand side of the track and walk forward a few paces. Ahead of you is a route between the newly planted trees which will be to your left and right.  

Go forward to the old vegetation about 50m ahead, turn left and follow the path which takes a somewhat meandering route. You will see the infant Windle Brook stream to your right.

a bluebell wood with a stream After about 200m the path turns right and crosses the stream.

Continue forward for another 200m on the path which rises gently until you approach the edge of the wood.   The reducing density of trees gives more opportunity for other plants to grow and at times the path may become a little overgrown with bracken. Bluebells grow here in the spring.

As you approach the edge of the wood you will get a glimpse of Bagshot Park ahead of you. The path turns left and runs parallel with the edge of the field.  Follow this for about 100m until you come into another wide grassy avenue on your left (though not as wide as the first one).

Turn left into this avenue which runs gently downwards and after about 170m a stream crosses in a large diameter pipe under the avenue (this area can be particularly muddy) and starts to rise again.

About 20m after the lowest point there is a small path running off at an angle on your right. Follow this uneven path as it wends its way further to the right and opens out into a wider track. You will see the stream on your left.

The widened track crosses a railed bridge and 100m further you come to a cross roads. This is also the county boundary between Surrey and Berkshire though there is nothing to tell you this! At the time of writing there was a finger-post pointing to "The Look Out". Don't go that way but turn half right and follow this track as it bends gently to the left.
This track ends at a gravelled drive with signs of farm working to your right.   This is a private area, so turn left along the drive and you will see Rapley Lake on your right.

autumn tint trees beyond a still lake
Rapley Lake on an autumn afternoon (prior to the rhododendron clearance).

A setting-sun-sky over a lake Follow this drive along the edge of the lake. With the clerance on your left it will be obvious that Rapley Lake is man-made and that you are walking in its retaining bank. You will cross a brick bridge and exchange the lake on your right for an area cleared of rhododendrons. At the time of writing there is in this area a small enclosure with a high wire fence - it is my guess that this is an experiment to see the difference in regeneration between land that is, and is not, accessible to deer.

Continue for about 250m beyond the bridge and a track will come in at an angle on your left. Take this track, doubling back slightly on the route you have just taken.

delapidated iron gate In about 300m you will catch signs of an old wrought iron gate and a small track off to the right. Don't be tempted to turn right but continue through the gates in the direction you have been going.

After little more than 50m you will see the "Look Out" finger board and realise that you have been at this cross roads before. Turn half right (taking the only track that you have not been on) and just keep following it - in all for about 900m. The terrain you walk through will vary and you will pass the end of one of the grassy avenues and then reach the one that you have walked along much earlier.

Here you have a choice. You can turn right, walk to the end and turn left into Vicarage Lane to return to the start point (this is what is shown on the sketch map).
Alternatively you can carry straight on and retrace the first part of the walk in the opposite direction.


Safety and other considerations: Advert is here

Please remember the 'country code'.  Take nothing but photographs, leave nothing but footprints.

Woodland footpaths can be expected to be uneven and have trip hazards such as protruding roots or holes. Paths may be muddy and slippery. There may be overhanging branches, brambles, etc. You should take care and wear suitable footware and clothing. 

Always keep track of where you are so that you could retrace your steps if you miss the intended route or it is blocked. Walking alone is inadvisable.

There are deer living wild in these woods - but you will be very lucky if you see one.  However if you do encounter any that do not run away then treat them with the greatest of respect.

The Crown's contractors are engaged in active forestry at varying locations within Swinley Forest (of which this walk covers a small part). Please obey any instruction signs that may be displayed for your safety.

Updated June 2020. This description is provided in good faith but no assurances as to its accuracy or suitability for you are given.

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Acknowledgement :

Many of my pages have been prompted by, or include questions or information from, my readers. If you can add anything to the above please write to me using the message pad below.

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