Berkshire Travel Guide

Shaw House, Berkshire - © Julian Tubb

Introduction & Overview

Berkshire Travel Guide outlines various places of interest, local attractions for visitors and highlights tourist information for travellers. The area guide includes travel information on local transport and travel, events, facts & figures, entertainment, maps and accommodation.

The county is located to the west of London. Berkshire lies in close proximity to the capital and like many of the home counties some use it as commuter county to work in London but live in the home counties and enjoy the greater space and rural environment in comparison to the capital.

Berkshire is famed as being the home of Windsor Castle, one of the official residences of the Queen, the world renowned Eton College as well as the many picturesque villages and historic houses.

The eastern region of Berkshire is urbanised the west more is rural in its character. Reading is a thriving place most famous now for the music festival that takes place there each summer. Newbury is famed for its race course and racing heritage and the town of Wokingham has a host of historic buildings to see and explore.

Reading is a thriving town just half an hour from London and as such is very much in the commuter belt area. The town played a leading role during the English civil war and became known for its iron works, brewing trade and as a manufacturing centre.

Today the town is an important commercial centre with home to a number of UK and international firms. The town is known for its churches, inns and sites of historical interest as well as contemporary culture.

Each summer the town hosts the Reading Festival attracting music lovers from far and wide where some top performers in rock, indie and brit pop can be seen.

There is plenty of history in Reading such as the ancient Reading Abbey; it is now in ruins and there is a museum dedicated to its legends. Built in 1121 the Abbey is situated between two rivers, the Thames and the Kennet. The museum contains displays of carvings going back to Norman times which show the splendour the Abbey would have had in its heyday.

Other attractions include the Museum of Reading showcasing the local, natural and archaeological history of Reading. The Museum of English Rural Life (MERL), is run by the University of Reading showcasing the evolving nature of farming and the countryside in England.

Newbury is a market town and is located in a scenic, beautiful area of Berkshire 18 miles west of Reading. Located on the banks of the River Kennet and Avon Canal, the town benefits from having a rural feel along with its relaxed atmosphere. Historically the town was known as an agricultural market town and for the cloth trade.

Boating enthusiasts can go to the Newbury Wharf and indulge in a spot of boating navigating the Kennet and Avon canal. Newbury Racecourse is among the best in the UK, the famous Hennessy Gold Cup takes place here, any racing fan is sure to love it here.

In 2011 the town became an even more attractive shopping destination with the opening of Parkway, an open street development in the heart of the town.

The town centre includes a number of shopping facilities where visitors can find a mixture of high street names and local independent stores. There are a choice of eateries including cafes, pubs and restaurants. The Corn Exchange is an arts venue that hosts a varied programme of dance, comedy, film, drama and music.

The local countryside around Newbury is part of the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, featuring a spectacular and unique landscape with woodlands, chalk streams, heritage sites and a perfect place to enjoy walking, riding and cycling.

Other attractions include Shaw House, a historic 16th century Elizabethan mansion located on the outskirts of Newbury.

Eton is located 20 miles from Reading, the town is famous for being the home of Eton College, one of the most prestigious and best known public schools in the world. The historic town is located across the River Thames from Windsor, the neighbouring village of Eton Wick is located a few miles away.

Eton High Street is where visitors can find a choice of independent shops, along with contemporary and traditional art galleries, antique stores and gift stores.

There are a choice of cafes and restaurants where visitors can enjoy a choice of food and drinks including pavement cafes where visitors can take in the atmosphere of the historic town.

At one end of the High Street is Eton College famous for educating a number of prime ministers, statesmen and royalty. At the other end is Windsor Castle, giving visitors plenty of reasons to pay the town a visit.

Ascot is located 15 miles west from Reading, the village is synonymous with Ascot Racecourse that hosts the Royal Ascot race meeting. The racecourse is among the most famous in the UK and the commercial development in the town is located around the course.

Established for over 300 years Ascot Racecourse is a firm favourite for race goers, each June during Royal Ascot, visitors can see horse racing at its finest along with plenty of pageantry, tradition and royal glamour.

The high street is a place where visitors can find a choice of independent shops, cafes and restaurants.

Historic Windsor is a famous town located 20 miles from Reading best known for being the home of Windsor Castle, one of the official royal residences. The village of Old Windsor is located a few miles from Windsor, it was the oldest Saxon town in the county of Berkshire.

The 13th century Church of Saint Peter and Saint Andrew is located in Old Windsor in a conservation area close to the River Thames. There are a number of country pubs in the village full of character and a number of local shops.

New Windsor became increasingly important with the building of Windsor Castle and its royal associations meant New Windsor became a prosperous town over the years. The name New Windsor was eventually dropped and the town became known as Windsor.

Local attractions include Legoland Windsor theme park, one of the most popular family attractions in the UK, visitors can find Lego themed rides, workshops and models. Historic Windsor Castle dates back to the 11th century, there are elements of Georgian, Victorian design and gothic features.

Visitors can tour the castle and see the state apartments, changing of the guard, St George’s Chapel noted for being among the finest examples of gothic architecture in England.

Frogmore House is located within Windsor Home Park, a favourite royal retreat for 300 years, built back in the 17th century. Visitors can learn more on the guided tours of the historic house and impressive gardens.

Local facilities include a choice of bars, traditional pubs, cafes and restaurants serving a choice of food and drinks along with entertainment venues including The Theatre Royal Windsor, housed inside an Edwardian theatre hosting a range of musicals and plays.

The county of Berkshire contains two of the top attractions in the UK, Windsor Castle and Legoland Windsor, a visit to these two alone would be worth visiting the county for. There are many other attractions in Berkshire for visitors to enjoy from model villages to historic houses to a world renowned college.

Its transport links mean it is fairly easy to get to especially from nearby London and other areas of the UK by rail and road, the county known for its quiet scenic countryside and historic attractions is worth exploring further.

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