Royal Berkshire - The County was given the title of 'Royal County' by the Queen in 1958 in recognition of Berkshire’s royal links. Windsor Castle is probably the most popular attraction for visitors while locals appear to prefer the River Thames, Chilterns and Downs.
The Royal County of Berkshire has much to offer the tourist, it makes an excellent base to explore London and the South East of England being under 40 miles from the centre of London, about 25 miles from Oxford, around 60 miles to Bath and much the same to Stratford-upon-Avon however you may well find that there is more than enough to entertain you within the county during your visit.
Popular Berkshire destinations
Windsor - Home to Windsor Castle, Windsor Racecourse, Windsor Great Park and The Savill Garden, and across the Thames Eton College. As well as the draw of the Royal Castle and associated parkland there is the nearby LEGOLAND® Windsor Resort, Theme Park rides and attractions and of course lots of LEGO®
Newbury - This historic market town has the Newbury Racecourse, River Kennet, Kennet and Avon Canal, Shaw House, Donnington Castle, Greenham Common, Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre to visit and nearby Highclere Castle (in Hampshire) to visit.
Pangbourne – a popular area, located by the River Thames, full of character and the water meadows make an excellent picnic spot. Pangbourne is said to have been the inspiration of many authors and novelists including Kenneth Grahame and Jerome K. Jerome.- Close by is the National Trust run Basildon Park a popular attraction partly due to its use in the filming of Pride and Prejudice
Reading - Sitting on the junction of the River Thames the River Kennet, water activities are popular, especially at the Caversham Lakes Water Park. The county town, a modern town with history, an old market town with the ruined Reading Abbey (founded in 1121) and an array of Georgian and Victorian buildings. As a university town it has a vibrant social scene. For nature lovers there is the Dinton Pastures Country Park with over 300 acres, with hides for bird watching, fishing lakes, orienteering course and walking trails
and for those needing some fresh air there are to the West the Wessex Downs and to the North the Chilterns Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty for walks, cycling or just to sit and enjoy the countryside
Historic Country Houses and Estates
For those interested in Historic Country Houses and Estates then besides the obvious Royal Castle at Windsor and Windsor Great Park "with its associated buildings and gardens there is Ashdown a grand house built in the Dutch-style, with the appearance of an oversized doll's house sitting in majestic woodland. Basildon Park an fine 18th-century house with collections of art and fine furniture within its sizable parkland and gardens. Cliveden house, gardens and parkland, though the house is now a luxury hotel, short guided house visits can be made during the summer season, the gardens and parkland are an attraction in themselves. Dorney Court “One of the Finest Tudor Manor Houses in England” a family home to the Palmers for nearly 500 years group tours and private visits are by arrangement. Frogmore House another of the Royal Residences at Windsor, (purchased by Queen Charlotte in 1790) the house and gardens are now open to the public at certain times. Highclere Castle perhaps the archetypal English country house estate it is probably known by many as ‘Downton Abbey’
For those with an interest in gardens Englefield Gardens are open each Monday throughout the year, with approximately 12 acres and 1000 species across different garden settings, though the house is not open to the public. The Savill Garden one of the gardening gems of the country, with 35 interconnected gardens and woodland it is managed to be of interest to both the horticulturists and those who just enjoy gardens for what they are. Waltham Place Gardens "At Waltham Place we find a series of walled gardens, the oldest dating from the 17th century, an English landscape garden with splendid specimen trees planted in the early 19th century” but with a modern twist.
LEGOLAND® Windsor Resort - Theme Park rides, attractions, shows and entertainment; and of course lots of LEGO® with over 55 rides and attractions. Caversham Lakes with much to offer such as open water swimming, stand up paddle boarding, aqua park experiences ands nature trails. Go Ape Bracknell offers Treetop Adventures with ropes and wires, Forest Segway and even Axe Throwing to get the pulse racing! For something more sedate we suggest Horse-Drawn Boat Trips on the Kennet and Avon Canal or taking one of the river cruises on the River Thames such as those by French Brothers at Windsor. Art, Museums and Collections
Art, Museums and Collections
The Museum of English Rural Life (The MERL) in Reading is part of the University of Reading and is “dedicated to farming, food, craft, rural life and countryside issues" items include farm machinery and a national collection of farm wagons. Youngsters will find it interesting and the more mature may find Ladybird collection brings back childhood memories in “the world’s first and only permanent exhibition space dedicated to the art of the iconic Ladybird Books”. The Museum of Berkshire Aviation is at the historic site of Woodley Airfield, near Reading “Miles and Handley Page aircraft built at Woodley are being re-constructed and exhibited along with fascinating pictorial records and priceless archives". The Reading Museum has Britain's famous full-size Victorian version of the Bayeux Tapestry, the Huntley and Palmers Gallery telling the story of the world famous biscuit makers – the museum “holds almost 500,000 accessioned objects, crossing archaeology, art, natural history, social history, and world cultures.” The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre the name says it all, the story of how the stories were created and the man behind them. The Writing Hut is a must see for fans. The West Berkshire Museum from local geology, history and natural history contemporary original artwork, sculpture and crafts “housed in two of Newbury’s best loved historic buildings - the 17th century Cloth Hall and the old Granary/Corn Stores in the Wharf”
Animals, Nature and Countryside
Beale Park Wildlife Park and Gardens a 40 acre Wildlife Park, set in 350 acres of estate with over 160 species of birds and animals as well as a narrow gauge railway, play areas and gardens. Bucklebury Farm Deer and Safari Park “a 70-acre farm nestled in the beautiful Pang valley”, having an extensive deer herd, tractor rides, rare breed Berkshire Pigs, Pygmy and Anglo-Nubian goats, Alpacas and more in the farmyard. Swinley Forest “owned and managed by the Crown Estate, and stretches over 2,600 acres of gentle hills from Bracknell to Crowthorne.” The Look Out visitor centre which has a science exhibition and play area for children. The Swinley Bike Hub offers a variety of bikes for hire and there is lots of Tree Top and Outdoor Activity to be had at the Go Ape site. Windsor Great Park The Great Park with its Deer Park and iconic Long Walk are large enough for the 500 or so Red Deer that inhabit the park. There are also The Savill Garden, Valley Gardens and Virginia Water to visit within the Great Park. Feathers and Fur Falconry Centre offer Hands On Experience sessions, Falconry Sessions and Owl Encounters. The Living Rainforest “three glasshouses are home to over 850 types of rainforest plants and animals – including rare and endangered species of global conservation value.". The Nature Discovery Centre is the visitor centre at the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trusts Thatcham nature reserve and “is packed full of interactive wildlife and natural history displays”. There are walks and nature trails and play areas for children. Another of the Wildlife Trusts reserves is at Greenham and Crookham Commons now an important stretch of heathland full of wildlife but was once a military base holding nuclear weapons and made famous by the Peace Women demonstrations in the 1980’s. There are walks to enjoy and the Greenham Common Control Tower is worth stopping by.
On this website we have divided the listings in to pages of General Visitor Attractions, Historic Properties and Gardens and Nature and Countryside. We have also added a page relating to Walking and Cycling for leisure, please use the menu to navigate between these pages. We hope you find this site useful and it helps you to get the most out of the county.
We are independent (unpaid) and we believe currently the only dedicated tourist website covering the County of Berkshire, we have listed the official tourism sites on our Tourist Information page, see these websites, information centres details and contact details and please contact these for more detailed information or enquiries, as we are unfunded and unable to respond to enquiries
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