Lake & Grounds


Dorney Lake boasts a 2,200m, eight-lane course with a separate return lane constructed to meet international standards.

A 2012 Olympic venue, we offer the best rowing course in the UK.


Just a few miles from Windsor and Maidenhead whilst only 20 minutes from Heathrow Airport and West London, Dorney Lake is nestled within some of Berkshire's and Buckinghamshire's most beautiful countryside. The venue is set within 400 acres of scenic parkland including an Arboretum and Nature Conservation area.  

Dorney Lake is owned and managed by Eton College Services Ltd.



Construction of the lake began in 1996 and was completed in 2006 with the rounding-off of the return/warm-up channel.

Fertilizer use in the former arable fields was restricted for many years before construction began, to ensure high-quality water and low ground-chemical content. The lake holds some 350,000,000 gallons of water = approximately 1,600,000 cubic metres and is 2,200 metres long, has eight lanes, each 13.5 metres wide, and is a minimum of 3.5 metres deep – the depth needed to permit racing boats to perform to their optimum efficiency.

Some 4,500,000 tonnes of sand and gravel, 1,970,000 cubic metres of topsoil and subsoil and 585,000 cubic metres of basal clay were extracted during construction. Local disturbance was minimised by using a two-mile-long conveyor belt from a corner of the site to take material extracted to a remote collection point.

The parallel return/warm-up channel, in part five lanes wide, has a minimum water depth of 2.5 metres.


The lake water is fed from underground aquifers, percolating through a natural gravel filter, with weeds being discouraged by natural methods, including a particular breed of carp, and algae growth by using an underwater ultrasound system. 







Over 30,000 trees - mostly native species but with a growing collection of ‘specimen’ trees -  have been planted in the park and arboretum in groups, avenues and shelter belts, with resultant vistas including one of Windsor Castle from ‘The Millennium Avenue’ of lime trees. Some open areas between the tree groups are left uncut in the summer to encourage wild flowers and wild life, which includes many bird species


An intriguing ‘armillary sphere’ containing a sundial was presented to Dorney Lake in 2006 by the gravel-extracting consortium to mark their 10 years of Lake construction. The sphere’s Latin inscription, devised by Eton College scholars, is ‘Homines contra homines hic inter harenam acquamque saxumque sed omnes contra tempus contendunt’ which means ‘Men against men here amongst the sand and water and rock but all struggle against time’. 


Dorney Lake is a world-class sporting facility in a 400-acre parkland site with 90 acres set to water and privately owned by Eton College but managed by Eton College Services Ltd. 

The Venue offers the combination of a top sporting venue, its own in-house hospitality and events team, and leisure opportunities through community access. 

The main lake is a 2,200-metre rowing course which was extended in order to host the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games rowing and flat-water canoeing. Surrounding the main lake are a return/warm-up channel, a modern boathouse and the finish tower/Olympic Suite all surrounded by an arboretum and park, a nature conservation area.




The first major event was the October 2000 SuperSprint Regatta attended by 10,000 people - it was hailed as Sir Steve Redgrave’s last race after the 2000 Sydney Olympics, at which he won his fifth Gold Medal.

In May 2005 Dorney Lake hosted the first of three BearingPoint 2005 Rowing World Cup Regattas and hosted the 11-nation Coupe de la Jeunesse for young rowers in July 2005.

In August 2006 the lake hosted the World Rowing Championships, the second largest rowing event after the Olympic and Paralympic Games, the first WRC in the UK for 20 years. The Championships also featured adaptive rowing for disabled athletes for the first time and provided an ideal opportunity for them in the run-up to the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008.

In September 2008 we hosted one of the nation-wide Cultural Olympiad launch events, with pupils from several schools, mainstream and special, enjoying a mix of rowing and arts activities.

There were some 40 major events at Dorney Lake during 2008 in addition to the three major UK Regattas formerly held on the River Thames but now taking place at Dorney Lake – Wallingford, the Metropolitan (founded by Charles Dickens and his son) and Marlow.

Dorney Lake was the host venue for rowing and flat-water canoeing in the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and gained high praise from both competitors and spectators alike.

Triathlons, Duathlons and road running and bike races, including some for charity, take place each year.

It's an exceptional location and one that we will be coming to again and again!

Alison Mihail

The Princes Trust