Show-stopping walks in Berks and beyond
Looking for a walk worthy of front page news? Check out these eight headline-grabbing walks from the highest points and best views to autumn colour and the coolest local landmarks
UBER FAMOUS: Long Walk, Windsor. Easy, 6km.
GIve the Queen a wave, the poor love’s trapped in her tower for the foreseeable. You, on the other hand, can go from castle to Copper Horse and back again with only the roaming deer for company and the world’s largest occupied castle as a backdrop. This is a dead straight leisurely stroll and what it lacks in map-reading it makes up for in regal splendour. It’s a 5-mile round trip – view walk here.
NATIONAL TRUST TRIO: Winkworth to Oakhurst, near Godalming. Easy, 4km.
A beautiful wooded walk connecting three National Trust properties. Start at Winkworth Arboretum, head over Hydon’s Ball and finish at Oakhurst Cottage. Oakhurst Cottage is currently closed, but there’s a lot to take in and the arboretum is beautiful. Dogs are welcome. View the walk here.
COOLEST LANDMARK: White Horse Hill. Challenging, 6.5km.
This circular ramble within the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty crosses The Ridgeway (the views here are stunning) and the iconic Bronze-Age Uffington White Horse leaping across the hills. The route is pretty steep, so don’t forget your walking boots and be prepared to work those glutes. Route here.
URBAN BEAUTY: Reading Circular River Walk. Easy, 3.5km
Starting at Reading Bridge, this route takes you on a tour of the town’s prettiest spots, including King’s Meadow and Blake’s Lock, past the Abbey Ruins (above) and Forbury Gardens. Best of all, it shouldn’t take you more than an hour. Route here.
PRETTIEST FLOWERS: Savill Garden, Windsor. Easy, 2.7km.
Floral fiend? This under-the-radar Berkshire park with its superb seasonal planting and many rare plants from around the world is an absolute belter. This stroll through the park passes the pretty bright flowers before moving onto the ancient woodland found in the Valley Gardens. Be warned car parks are very busy right now, so bear that in mind if you are travelling. View the walk here.
HIGHEST POINT: Combe Gibbet, Inkpen. Challenging, 6km.
Walbury Hill near Hungerford takes the top spot as the county’s highest point – it’s also the highest chalk hill in England and the highest point in south-east England at 297m. Less of a circular and more ‘what goes up, must come down’. Set off from Walbury and head to the summit where you’ll find an Iron Age fort before heading on to Combe Gibbet – a beautiful spot with a grizzly back story. Perched on the hill is a double gallows purpose-built in the 17th century to hang the adulterous lovers Dorothy Newman and George Bromham for murdering his wife and son. View the walk here.
HORRIBLE HISTORY: Donnington Castle, Newbury Moderate, 5.8km.
A medieval castle perched on a hill overlooking the Lambourn Valley should get even the most reluctant walkers to put one foot in front of the other. This circular stomp takes in Snelsmore Common, woodland and the castle ruins (a bigger player in the Civil War) and there’s no chance of getting lost, simply follow the path. It’s suitable for all but you might struggle with a pushchair. View the walk here.
OLYMPIC GLORY: Dorney Lake, Eton Wick. Easy, 6km.
Slip into your tight Lycra, crack open your six-pack and strut around Dorney Lake like you’ve just won gold. This London 2012 Olympic venue provides an easy peasy, traffic-free stroll or run. Park at the northwestern end of the lake and explore the 450 acres of parkland including an Arboretum. View the walk here.
WOODLAND WONDER: Bisham Woods Circular, easy 3km
Marlow shmarlow, is its glossy neighbour, but the riverside village of Bisham has bragging rights too. The historic Bisham Abbey – now home to Team GB hockey, was once used to jail Queen Elizabeth of Scots and was later given to Anne of Cleves by Henry the VIII in the divorce settlement. Over the road is Bisham Woods. Aside from walking in the footsteps of rock ‘n’ roll royalty, it was Kenneth Grahame’s inspiration for the Wild Wood in Wind In The Willlows. There are 400 acres to explore and many circular routes, you can view one here.
BEST WILDLIFE: Cookham and Cock Marsh, moderate 6km
It’s a pick and mix of beautiful Berkshire countryside, Cock Marsh is a biological Site of Special Scientific Interest, so no shortage of wildlife. A moderate four-mile circular strut, the trail takes approximately two hours, and it’s not the faint-hearted. The route 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 a bit muddy, and is steep in places, but it’s a corker. View the walk here.
MOST PHOTOGENIC: Virginia Water Lake, Englefield Green. Easy, 7km.
A classic circular walk that takes you around the lake. Start at the Savill Garden and along the way you’ll take in the impressive heights of the Cascade waterfalls and the ancient Leptis Magna ruins. It’s an easy walk and dogs are welcome. View the walk here.
BEST VIEWS: Coombe Hill to Chequers. Challenging, 8km
Beautiful woodland, pretty villages and the PM’s country retreat – this circular walk in the Chiltern Hills has panoramic views across the Aylesbury Vale. It’s a challenge, with hilly terrain, so best for families with older kids or a long walk and natter with your bestie or dog. Keep your eyes peeled for the giant NHS sign that’s recently been mowed into the side of the hill! View the walk here.
CINEMATIC SHOWSTOPPER: Beckford Arms Walk, Wilts. Gentle, 5km-16km
Take in the utterly gorgeous views of the Fonthill Estate, near Salisbury, a full 10,000 acres of outstanding beauty in the heart of Wiltshire. Eagle-eyed film fans may recognise the stunning lake from the film Chocolat while ambling around the estate land on a doable 5km or enthusiastic 16km. View walk here.
LITERARY STROLL: Jane Austen Circular Walk. Easy. 4.5 Miles.
Literary fans will love this easy walk in the village where Jane Austen spent the last eight years of her life. Chawton lies a mile southwest of Alton and this circular walk starts at her 17th century house (which is now Jane Austen’s House Museum). Follow her footsteps through fields into the village of Farringdon and keep your eyes peeled for any wet-shirted men popping up. Route here.
PRETTIEST CITY: Oxford. Easy, 9.5km
it is undeniable when it comes to cities, Oxford and Cambridge are the easiest on the eye. Fortunately, Oxford is doable from Berkshire and there couldn’t be a better time to visit, with no heavy shopping bags to lug around or heaving crowds. This circular route covers all the best bits – from the colleges to the Oxford Castle and Radcliffe Camera. Take a detour up to South Park for a panoramic view of the spires from above. Route here.