Windsor is one of our most favourite places to visit, but we had not been since the start of lockdown, as it is a such popular place and always crowded. Lily especially misses Windsor and feeding the swans along the river – so this weekend I thought, let’s try it and see. It was a Saturday afternoon, and would you believe we found a quieter part of central Windsor, right by the River Thames? It’s called Baths Island.
Baths Island, Windsor
These are the details for the Baths Island in Windsor.
Address: off Stovell Road, Windsor, Berkshire SL4 5JB – by Windsor Leisure Centre
Parking: The car park is by Windsor Leisure Centre on Stovell Road SL4 5JB. It costs £1.80 for 2 hours and the machine takes cash and card. Charges apply Mon – Sun including bank holidays 9am – 9pm.
Toilets: None. You could walk to the loos under the train station or inside Royal Windsor Shopping Centre (about 10 mins walk) but I don’t know if the loos there are currently open.
Food: There is an ice cream hut open opposite Baths Island by the railway bridge.
Pushchair-friendly: Yes. There is a bridge to go over but there are no steps.
Playground: No. Nearest ones are in Windsor – Batchelors Acre by the library, or Home Park.
This is a map of Baths Island that I’ve added notes to. Baths Island is literally behind the car park on Stovell Road. It is a small island, perfect for picnics, watching boats and wildlife, and going for a little walk.
The Quiet Area
Our reason for coming here was to have a picnic by the river. So we had to find a quiet spot. From the car park, you just walk behind it and you’ll see the green area with a wooden bridge in the middle. You cross the bridge to get onto Baths Island.
On the other side is the big bit of the island, on the right side of the railway viaduct. There are picnic tables here. It was quite busy when we came here, so we went through the railway arches to the other side.
Now we were on the left side of the viaduct, with the main part of Windsor across the river behind us. It was busy on the other side, with crowds of people by the ice cream hut.
In front of us was a huge space under the trees, where the ground was a bit bare of grass and full of twigs. The views were amazing though and there were no people, just boats. My husband said, why don’t we sit here. I looked at him a bit shocked, like, here?! The kids were running around excited while I thought about it. It may not have fluffy green grass, but we did have our picnic mat. And we seemed to pretty much have this side to ourselves. Why not?
It was perfect, we had a view of Windsor Castle, boats and canoeists, people paddle-boating, even some swimming in the Thames. Tyler enjoyed watching the GWR train coming and going along the viaduct. A small family walked past us, but that was it really.
We had some bread that the children were eager to feed swans with. One came along who was happy to be fed. There were wildflowers along the edges of the island, and we spotted these stripy caterpillars.
Look at this view. I honestly thought I was dreaming, as we hadn’t been here for so long. Oh my gosh Windsor, I missed you!
We hung around here for about an hour, the kids playing their own games. Lily was making the three little pigs with sticks, and Tyler was standing with his bread ready incase any more swans came by. They went into the railway arches and made echoing sounds. They ran around chasing each other around the trees. It was just lovely.
After our picnic we went for a walk to the end of the island (the thin part of the island on the map). The path led us towards Windsor Castle, and there was a bench at the end where people were sitting, enjoying the view.
Wildflowers are in bloom along the sides, there is something so calming about the landscape.
Turning around, we walked back towards the viaduct and could see Brunel’s famous Bowstring Bridge for the Slough to Windsor train line. Apparently this bridge is the oldest wrought iron bridge still in use today.
Baths Island has a history, as it was the town’s swimming baths in the olden days, noted on maps are far back as the 1860s. There were even changing rooms by the railway arches (long gone now). You could say it still is the town’s swimming baths, as we saw some people going for a dip. And the Windsor Leisure Centre is located here.
We fed some ducks along our walk. You can see in this photo how there were crowds on the other side of the river. But as we were on an island, there were less people on our side.
Back through the arches is the bigger part of Baths Island, and we crossed back over the wooden bridge to get to the car park.
Over the bridge, there is a huge woven arch that I had to take a photo of.
And that was the end of our trip to Baths Island. If you are looking for a quieter riverside picnic spot in popular Windsor, then I do recommend coming here. It is such a short, easy drive from Slough. We paid for 2 hours parking at £1.80 and that was plenty of time. Remember if you do picnic here, take your litter home, and keep to social distancing.