I thought I'd just visit a couple of small museums and find somewhere quiet to sit and drink tea and read my book... but I ended up going on a long and highly enjoyable walk round the town (and neighbouring Eton). Want to come on a virtual tour with me? Here goes...
The branch line train I caught was absolutely crammed with tourists excited about visiting the castle - plus a whole bunch of kids who were very excited about visiting Legoland (including one overexcited bunch whose mum was threatening to turn around and take them straight home if they didn't stop misbehaving "I haven't bought the tickets yet, you know! Behave!!")
Even if you don't actually visit Windsor Castle, it looms over everything and gives the town a huge amount of charm.
I visited Windsor a lot growing up, but it was mostly to shop (one of the department stores had a great toy shop with toy trains running around the walls - how could you not love that as a kid?). It's funny coming back as a "tourist" as the town is so familiar but I really hardly know it at all.
It was nice to take the time to just wander around, admiring the castle buildings and other historic bits and pieces in the centre of town.
I didn't know that Windsor is home to Britain's shortest street! Queen Charlotte Street is just 51 feet 10 inches long. I stood right at one end of it to take this photo:
Tiny huh? On one side of the street there's a fabulously crooked house...
... and nearby is one of these old Victorian post boxes. Did you know post boxes were originally painted green to help them blend into their surroundings? Unfortunately they blended in too well and people couldn't find them when they wanted to post a letter! They repainted most of the boxes to the bright red they use today but there are still a few old green ones dotted about the place (two in Windsor).
I visited Windsor Parish Church, which has some lovely decorations and a 16th century painting of the Last Supper...
... then headed to the Windsor & Royal Borough Museum (Windsor is now part of the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead and the museum focuses on the history of Windsor and its surrounding area). The museum is free to visit if you're a local resident and is a charming little local museum with an audio guide available and a nice mix of artifacts on display.
I especially enjoyed the clips of old black and white films of the area and learning about the UK's first airmail service which flew from Windsor Great Park. People bought specially designed postcards celebrating the first flight which were then sent by the aerial post and (later) posted in special blue airmail post boxes. You can buy replicas of one of the postcards in the museum shop.
I was delighted to spot the commemorative blue post box mentioned in the museum, later in the afternoon. The box stands near the former site of Windsor Post Office, where the mail from the aerial post was received. Sadly you can't actually use it to post letters.
A ticket to the museum also includes a guided tour of the Guildhall (when it's not in use for events). This was great! Our guide was funny and very well informed and the building has a fascinating history. It's often used for weddings and other celebrations, and was the location of Prince Charles' wedding to Camilla, and Elton John's civil partnership with David Furnish.
After visiting the museum I headed to the Long Walk. This is the famous straight path that leads from Windsor Castle to Windsor Great Park.
The Long Walk starts at the Castle gates...
... if you peer through the gates you can just make out the guards on duty.
The Long Walk is about 3 miles long and ends at the Copper Horse - a statue of George III on horseback.
I'm planning on coming back to walk the whole walk (and to explore the Great Park, too) but for now contented myself with walking just a little way and enjoying the views back to the castle.