What it's like
The slim filling in the sandwich between Oxfordshire and Hampshire, Berkshire with its good road and rail connections provides and excellent centre for walking in southern England.
Much of West Berkshire lies within the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, a nationally important landscape encompassing many well known walking areas.
To the north is a section of the Ridgeway, England’s oldest road, passing over the grassy chalk land of the Berkshire Downs, between Streatley and East Ilsley.
The Ridgeway is linked to the Lambourn Valley Way. This 20 mile walk begins at the Uffington White Horse and passes through the picturesque Lambourn Valley, gradually descending some 560 feet, to end in Newbury.
England's highest chalk hill, Walbury Hill lies in the south west, the start of the 70 mile Wayfarers Walk, to Emsworth,. On a clear day, you can see several counties. The heritage here includes evidence of a Long Barrow and an Iron Age Hillfort.
Within West Berkshire, between Pangbourne and Streatley, is a short length of the 184 mile Thames Path that traces the banks of this serene waterway. Pangbourne was once home and inspiration to Wind in the Willows author Kenneth Grahame.
Further East, within their own unitary authorities are the towns of Reading and Windsor both offering more sophisticated settings for the Thames as it gathersvolume on its journey towards London. Reading is also the start of another long distance waterside walk, that along the Kennet and Avon Canal which finishes in Bath.
- A circuit of the Greenham and Crookham Commons which will enable you to appreciate the restoration of the former runways and nuclear missile silos which were decommissioned in 2001 and possibly remind you of the lengthy demonstrations there.
- A figure-of-eight from the riverside of Windsor around the castle down the Long Walk and back across to Eton, through the town and into the College where you can learn to play fives or indulge in a wall game.
- Start from the Pot Kiln pub near Frilsham Common and walk out to the river Pang at the Norman village of Stanford Dingley and return via Upper Bucklebury.
Must see and do
- Walk the Lambourn Valley Way, a 20 mile route from the Berkshire Downs to Newbury. Or why not make a real expedition and walk the 140 miles or so from the West Kennet Long Barrow to London using the Ridgeway, and the Kennet & Avon and the Thames towpaths? www.visitwestberkshire.org.uk/media/pdf/e/b/WLambourn
- Sit in the large inglenook fireplace of the bar of the Crown and Garter at Hungerford and choose from a fine selection of local real ales before lunching undercriss-crossed ancient beams of this traditional 16th century inn. www.crownandgarter.com
- Watch horseracing at Newbury Racecourse www.newbury-racecourse.co.uk
Destination County : Berkshire