Five awesome autumn walks!
Love the outdoors? Us too, so we’re thrilled to be launching our first ever Muddy Walk Week! Grab your friends or family and try our pick of the prettiest walks in Berkshire – all with dog-friendly pubs nearby.
IN PARTNERSHIP WITH
Feel like stretching your legs over the next two weeks? Us too! Making the most of your precious free time and getting out and about with family and besties is what we love to do on Muddy, so we’ve come up with five brilliant Autumn walks (with pubs en route or nearby obvs) so you can really enjoy your down-time.
We’re proud to say that our Autumn Walks are part of Joules’ Charity Month – 31 days of fantastic fundraising for their five charity partners. If you want to make a small justgiving donation to take part (a quid is great, and doable even for little people) click here. And please do instagram your beautiful walk or gorgeous pub (yes, you can be in it!) and hashtag with #joulesautumnwalks #mymuddywalks, because we’ll use the best images in our round-up feature.
Details of our favourite walks across all 22 Muddy counties are here so even if you’re going away you can stride out. Plus you can enter our Reader Treat and three lucky subscribers and their families can step out in £500 of Joules coats and wellies.
What else do you want, crisp dry days and blue skies? Don’t worry, I’m working on it.
WALK 1 /BASILDON PARK, LOWER BASILDON, WEST BERKSHIRE
Distance and difficulty: Easy to moderate – there are four walks ranging from 0.5 to 3 miles with a couple of hills and muddy patches. The two shorter routes are suitable for pushchairs, taking 20-40 minutes, while the stretchy 3-miler around the estate’s boundary takes approximately 2 hours. View walk here.
Good for: Families, loafers, half-hearted stretchy leggers
Why we love it: Lovingly restored by Lord and Lady Iliffe, Basildon Park is an architectural TV and film star (spot its appearances in Pride & Prejudice, Downton Abbey, Dorian Gray and Marie Antoinette) where kids can safely run free range in its 400 acres. The walks showcase the estate’s beautiful location and breathtaking views. The Illuminated Winter Walks are particularly special.
Basildon Park is less than two miles from The Swan in Pangbourne – a stunning 17th century pub (with literary links galore) that does unpretentious but stylishly presented food and a fab Sunday roast. There’s a modest riverside terrace that’s about as close to the river as you can get without getting wet, with views to die for. Inside there’s a a large bar and restaurant with nooks and crannies to hunker down in front of a fire for pints and crisps. Dog’s are welcome outside or in a special bow-wow snug.
The Swan, Shooters Hill, Pangbourne, Reading RG8 7DU. Tel: 0118 984 4494.
WALK 2/ BRAY LAKE, BERKSHIRE
Distance and difficulty: Easy – a gentle 1.5mile stroll around the edge of Bray Lake. One of the prettiest spots in Berkshire, the path hugs the edge of the tree-lined water, home to Bray Lake Watersports. During the wet months, wellies are a must as it can get a bit muddy. View walk here.
Good for: Families, particularly those with young children, reluctant walkers and anyone pretending to work up an appetite before lunch.
Why we love it: Location location location, baby. It might be minutes from the J8/9 of the M4, but it’s an oasis of calm and tranquility. Drink in the views – still waters, weeping willows and boaty types are attention grabbing. Oh, did I mention you’re in the gastro enclave of Bray? That’s right folks, your efforts will be rewarded in foodie heaven.
As if by magic, up pops Heston’s Hind’s Head just two miles from Bray Lake. It’s a historic pub, serving food that’s worthy of its one Michelin Star. Don’t be fooled into the thinking its all la-di-dah, you’ll be welcomed with open arms (but perhaps leave your muddy boots in the car). Upstairs is the elegantly eccentric Royal Lounge – perfect for a post-walk drinkies and a mouth-watering snack – Heston’s legendary Scotch egg is a must-try. Up for a couple of courses? Check out the set lunch menus: £25 for two courses, £29.50 for three (Mon-Fri), and £47 for the three-course Sunday lunch. Exceptionally good value when there’s a Michelin twinkler over the door.
The Hind’s Head, High St, Bray SL6 2AB. Tel: 01628 626151
WALK 3/ COOKHAM AND COCK MARSH, BERKSHIRE
Distance and difficulty: Moderate four-mile circular strut – taking approximately two hours, this one’s not for the faint hearted. The route (in full here) takes in churches, the river, past Bronze Age burial mounds, along a wooden boardwalk and you’ll get cracking views of Cliveden. It can be wet and boggy at this time of year, and is steep in places, but it’s a corker.
Good for: Energetic stompers, dog walkers and nature-loving David Attenborough types.
Why we love it: It’s a pick and mix of beautiful Berkshire countryside, Cock Marsh is a biological Site of Special Scientific Interest and there’s not shortage of wildlife. The varied terrain along riverside paths, through lush meadows and over grassland slopes will reward you with panoramic views across the Thames Valley
From the Cookham Moor National Trust car park, you’re a four-minute stagger to The White Oak – and, boy, will you deserve all the ‘there there’ dishes. The White Oak balances the art of being a welcoming local and foodie destination. Popping in for pint and snack? Take a pew. Settling in for a three-course thriller? The modern rustic Oak Room awaits with its stunning, seasonal menu. Plus there’s crowd-pleasing kids’ and set menus.
White Oak Cookham, The Pound, Cookham, Maidenhead SL6 9QE
WALK 4/ LONG WALK, WINDSOR, BERKSHIRE
Distance and difficulty: Easy – follow in the footsteps of Kings and Queens. This is a dead straight 2-3 hour leisurely stroll down the tree-lined drive and back again. What it lacks in map-reading (no complaints here) it makes up for in regal splendour. It’s a 5-mile round trip (you can dip out anytime) from from Windsor Castle’s Cambridge Gate up to the Copper Horse and back again. No bikes, no cars (unless you’re the crown-wearing VIP) just you, Windsor Great Park and lots of deer. View walk here.
Good for: History nerds, royal stalkers, half-hearted leg stretchers and families with energy to burn.
Why we love it: Rich in royal history, it’s got the wow factor in spades. The world’s largest occupied castle as a backdrop, stonking parkland and the impressive statue of mad King George III on horseback (actually made of brass, just saying). Make it to the the Copper Horse and you can see the curtains twitch from Windsor Castle to Buckingham Palace.
Once you have taken in enough fresh air and scenery, head to Bel And The Dragon on Thames Street. Situated in the shadow of the castle, this historic pub has three cosy rooms with beams and an open fire, serving real ales, a good choice of wines and tasty food suitable for all the family. It’s a pub that ticks the boxes for kids and grown ups – comforting classics with a twist and modern rustic decor.
Bel & The Dragon, Thames Street, 1 Datchet Road, Windsor Berkshire SL4 1QB. Tel: 01753 866056.
WALK 5/ STANFORD DINGLEY, WEST BERKSHIRE
Distance and difficulty: Moderate – this is a 4-mile stomp through an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (but there are a couple of cheeky short cuts if the call of a roaring pub fire and a glass of red is strong). That said, the full loop is a two-hour belter with some steep sections, a couple of hills and some muddy, uneven ground. A colourful walk to see the seasons change that’s particularly lovely in spring and autumn. View walk here.
Good for: Enthusiastic striders, hardy dog-walkers and shameless cheaters.
Why we love it: Stanford Dingley and its surrounding meadows and woodland are what escaping to the countryside is all about. An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, you can celebrate the seasons and always find a cracking pub to warm your cockles. There’s even half a chance you’ll bump into a dog-walking Cambridge or Middleton. Fancy.
A proper local in the heart of the community the The Old Boot welcomes walkers, kids, dogs and, er, horses. You’ll find a couple of roaring fires, sleeping dogs and an enormous garden if the walking hasn’t completely knackered any kids and animals. Whether you’re grabbing a pint and a packet of pork scratchings or tucking into the the comforting pub grub (portion sizes will test you), you’ll love the cosy, country pub vibe.
The Old Boot, Stanford Dingley, Reading RG7 6LT. Tel: 0118 974 5191