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Things to do in Berkshire


Berkshire, in the south of England, is one of England's oldest counties, dating from the time when King Alfred the Great set the County Boundaries.

The Rivers Kennet and Thames flow through the county creating fertile valleys and beautiful riverscapes along their course.

The Ridgeway National Trail crosses the Downs in the north west of the County. Berkshire is a scenic county, often referred to as 'Royal Berkshire' due to its association with the Royal family and their home Windsor Castle, and Ascot Racecourse.

Picture courtesy of www.britainonview.com.

You'll find Berkshire Tourist Information in Newbury in the west of the County, in the Old Granaries - the building has a galleried upper story and dates back to Charles II's time. Newbury is a busy market town well known for its racecourse, where steeplechasing takes place in the winter season. The Kennet and Avon Canal, flowing through the town provides pleasant walks along the banks and the opportunity for boat trips - call at the visitor centre at Aldermarston Warf for information.

Picture courtesy of www.britainonview.com.To the west of Newbury are the remains of the Iron Age Walbury Hill Fort, standing 974 feet/279m above sea level, the highest point in south east England - from here there are splendid views for miles around. Nature lovers should visit Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre to see the wetland wildlife and also the Living Rain Forest - a great place to visit whatever the weather - both are near Newbury. If a day out at stately homes and castles is your choice than visit delightful Ashdown House at Lambourn, or spend a day at Highclere Castle home of the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon.

Reading is the County Town of Berkshire, an important business centre situated at the confluence of the Rivers Thames and Kennet. Reading is a vibrant University town, with an interesting history and plenty of modern shopping and leisure facilities. Reading Museum and Art Gallery tells the story of the town since Roman times.

Picture courtesy of www.britainonview.com.The Museum of Rural Life is worth visiting for a glimpse of country life in bygone days and Blake's Lock Museum shows details of Reading's old waterways. The beautiful Palladian Mansion Basildon Park is well worth visiting.

The whole family will enjoy a day at Beale Park, Lower Basildon, where a variety of exotic animals and birds are cared for on over 300 acres of ancient water meadow. At Riseley near Reading you have the opportunity to spend time on the Duke of Wellington's estate at Wellington Country Park, with a wealth of wildlife, a superb place for children, with safe play areas, picnic and barbeque facilities.

Picture courtesy of www.britainonview.com.Bracknell in the south of Berkshire developed from a small market town as a 'new' town after the Second World War, and is currently the home of Britain's Met' Office. Set in 2,600 acres of Crown Estate Woodland, the Look Out Discovery Centre, a natural heritage and scientific discovery center, provides educational fun and great nature walks.

Picture courtesy of www.britainonview.com.Maidenhead, situated on the banks of the River Thames, takes its name from Maydenhyth' or the medieval 'maiden's landing place'. The town developed alongside its much older neighbours Cookham and Bray. The Thames is popular with oarsmen all summer, there is an annual regatta held at Maidenhead in August.

Two of the finest bridges along the Thames span the river at Maidenhead - the balustraded road bridge and Brunel's railway bridge , with its long brickwork spans and resounding echoes. A pleasant walk upstream leads to Boulter's Lock, a famous riverside spot since Edwardian days.

At nearby Taplow is the Cliveden Estate, overlooking the River Thames. The estate and garden is open to the public daily from March to October. The house was the home of the Astor family and is now a hotel, but part is open on selected days in spring and summer.

Picture courtesy of www.britainonview.com.

Windsor grew up around its castle, the largest and oldest occupied castle in the world, covering 13 acres. It has been a favourite home of the Royal Family since William the Conqueror built the first castle on the site in the 11th century. Picture courtesy of www.britainonview.com.The oldest parts of the existing castle, including the famous landmark Round Tower, date from the 12th century and much of the castle visible from the river was built during the reign of George IV.

Eton College in Windsor, founded in 1440 by King Henry VI it is one of the oldest schools in the country. The school and grounds are open to visitors from March to October.

Windsor is home to one of Britain's most visited attractions, Legoland, a great day out for families.

If you're looking for some great activities in Berkshire for you and your friends, have a look at our Fun Things to Do in Berkshire for Adults article.

Days out in Berkshire

  • Ascot Racecourse
    Ascot Racecourse is synonymous with quality, excellence and a truly memorable day out. The highlight of the year is Royal Ascot in June with five days of tradition, pageantry and style.
    Ascot Racecourse
  • Ashdown House
    An extraordinary Dutch-style 17th-century house perched on the Berkshire Downs and famous for its association with Elizabeth of Bohemia ("The Winter Queen"), Charles I's sister, to whom the house was consecrated.
  • Basildon Park
    This beautiful Palladian mansion was built in 1776-83. The interior is notable for its original delicate plasterwork and elegant staircase, as well as the unusual Octagon Room.
    Basildon Park
  • Beale Park
    Beale Park nestles on the banks of the River Thames offering visitors the chance to see a unique collection of rare and endangered birds and animals.
    Beale Park
  • Dorney Court
    Dorney Court has been the home of the Palmer family for more than 450 years, passing from father to son through thirteen generations. It is a Grade 1 listed building.
    Dorney Court
  • Legoland ® Windsor
    Legoland is promoted as the UK's most unique theme park. Since it opened in 1996 at Windsor it has grown steadily to become the third most popular attraction in the UK.
    Legoland ® Windsor
  • Look Out Discovery Centre
    The Look Out Discovery Centre has over 90 interactive exhibits designed to entertain and educate children and adults of all ages.
    Look Out Discovery Centre
  • Mapledurham House and Watermill
    Mapledurham House, still the home of the descendants of the original family, is an Elizabethan Manor House situated beside the Thames and sheltered by the Chiltern Hills.
    Mapledurham House and Watermill
  • Newbury Racecourse
    Newbury Racecourse in Berkshire offers some of the best horse racing both on the flat and over jumps. The first race meeting was held here on 26th September 1905.
    Newbury Racecourse
  • Royal Windsor Racecourse
    Experience the unique blend of royal heritage & intimate atmosphere that is Royal Windsor Racecourse. Over the years we've played host to may exciting and successful events notably our famous summertime Monday night racing!
    Royal Windsor Racecourse
  • Runnymede
    Runnymede is an integral part of England's history. These extensive water meadows along the banks of the River Thames near Windsor are where King John famously signed the Magna Carta in 1215.
  • Wellington Country Park
    Set in 350 acres of beautiful parklands off the A33 between Basingstoke and Reading, on the Hampshire Berkshire border,with easy access from both the M3 and M4, Wellington Country Park offers a safe, open air, fun filled venue for all the family.
    Wellington Country Park
  • Windsor Castle
    Towering above the winding streets of Windsor, the 12th century Windsor Castle is the largest in England.
    Windsor Castle

Places to Visit in Berkshire

  • Aldermaston
    Aldermaston is a quiet village in Berkshire, best known as the site of protests by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND).
  • Ascot
    Ascot is the small Berkshire village close to the world-famous Ascot Racecourse, in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead.
  • Bracknell
    The pleasant town of Bracknell in Berkshire is 33 miles west of London.
  • Bucklebury
    Few people had heard of the small village of Bucklebury in Berkshire until April 2011, when suddenly the news was full of one family from the village - the Middletons.
  • Enborne
    Enborne is in West Berkshire, England. It is more of an area rather than a Village with about 200 houses and 500 parishioners. It takes its name from the river Enborne that runs along the south edge of the Parish.
  • Hurley
    We have just received a description of Hurley from one of our readers. This description is currently being prepared for publication and will appear on this page within the next few days.
  • Maidenhead
    Maidenhead is a town on the River Thames in Berkshire. It is 25 miles west of London.
  • Newbury
    Newbury stands on the River Kennet in West Berkshire. It is well known for its racecourse.
  • Reading
    Reading is the county town of Royal Berkshire, situated in beautiful countryside in the heart of the Thames Valley, with the Rivers Kennet and Thames running through the town.
  • Slough
    Slough is 22 miles west of London in the royal county of Berkshire, close to Windsor and Maidenhead.
  • Tilehurst
    Tilehurst is a suburb of Reading in Berkshire, bounded by the River Thames in the North, Sulham woods to the west and the A4 to the south.
  • Windsor
    Windsor - A Georgian and Victorian town which grew up around the magnificent castle. Wren completed the fine Guildhall in 1689. An attractive place for shopping, with many antique shops.

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