Best walks in Berkshire with a coffee pitstop
Banish the January blues? Stretch your legs and refuel en route with these brilliant local walks, all with pitstops for coffee and cake. Grab your wellies and go!
Dorney Lake, Eton Wick (6km)
Dorney Lake was the London 2012 Olympic venue. What it lacks in muscle-rippling rowers right now, it makes up for in easy peasy, traffic-free strolling or running, if that’s how you roll. Park at the north western end of the lake and explore the lake, 450 acres of parkland including an Arboretum. View the walk here.
Coffee Stop – Bridgerton fans are gonna love this. Not only did Dorney Court double as the Inn in Netflix’s romp and ceremony series (who can forget the wedding night scenes?), it boasts a garden centre and the gorgeous Kitchen Garden Cafe. It’s the perfect pitstop on a stroll around the Olympic rowing lake, serving food and hot drinks (the coffee is from Read’s Roastery in Dorset) for takeaway, seven days a week.
Cliveden National Trust, Taplow
There’s a mahoosive 376 acres to explore, but you can do as little or as much as you like. Stroll through the formal gardens, stomp through the woodland and hang out with Duke of Sutherland and, if you’re super-keen, hike down to the river. Just brace yourself for the uphill climb. Advance booking is essential.
Coffee stop – The only option here right now is the Kiosk in the Walled Garden. Although a National Trust cream tea is off right now, you can still grab a cuppa and sweet and savoury snacks.
Donnington Castle, Newbury (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.
Coffee stop – If you go down to the woods today, you’ll in for a sweet surprise. Snelsmore Common’s not only a great spot for a walk, but there’s a cafe in the car park. The Snugg, run by Tracey Foster, is open six days a week (closed Tuesday) offering teas, coffees and freshly baked cakes. Open 10am-3pm, Mon-Fri; 10am-4pm, Sat-Sun.
Dinton Pastures Country Park, Hurst (3.2km)
A 400-acre site, that has something for everyone. Want to get competitive? Test your ability to use a compass and a map on the 30-point Orienteering Course or hit the many trails and run. If your pace is more of a saunter than speedy, there are easy trails that take in the lake, play park and green spaces that perfectly suited to littlies and are pushchair and wheel-chair friendly. View the walks here.
Coffee stop – Do not pass go without popping into The Dragonfly Café, which has a permanent smell of freshly baked cakes wafting from the kitchen. They’re currently offering a selection of hot pastries and pasties, coffee, teas and hot chocolates. Open until 4pm, 7 days a week.
Finchampstead Ridges, Wokingham (3.5km)
Finchampstead Ridges, nestled in southern Berkshire, has been in the National Trust family for over 100 years. Head to Simon’s Wood and walk the avenue of redwood Sequoia trees (also known as Wellingtonia trees), planted in 1863, see if you can spot the second century Roman Road, nicknamed the Devil’s Highway and Heat’s Pond is a pretty spot at this time of the year – view the trails here.
Coffee stop – If you’re heading to Finchampstead Ridges, make a beeline for Goswell & Bird’s Village Shop. It’s right next door to The Greyhound pub and is the perfect pitstop for hot drinks, as well as sweet and savoury snacks to go. The sausage rolls are freshly made every day and I can confirm thet are amazing.
Long Walk, Windsor (6km)
The world’s largest occupied castle as a backdrop, stonking parkland and the impressive Copper Horse statue of mad King George III on horseback (actually made of brass, just saying). It’s an easy stroll that follows in the footsteps of Kings and Queens. This is a dead straight 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 from Windsor Castle’s Cambridge Gate up to the Copper Horse and back again (you can dip out anytime). No bikes, no cars (unless you’re the crown-wearing VIP) just you, lots of deer and Her Maj keeping an eye from her windows. View walk here.
Coffee stop – After all that exertion, you’ll need to refuel. Head to the Gail’s Bakery Windsor on Peascod St and takeaway quality coffee, teas, and fresh bread and pastries. To be fair, we would walk miles for one of their famous cinnamon buns, but fortunately it’s a short walk from, er, The Long Walk.
Maidenhead Thicket (2.5km)
A couple of miles west of Maidenhead’s urban sprawl is Maidenhead Thicket. The Thicket offers varied walking routes throughout the seasons with wildflowers popping up in spring. There are around 5 miles of footpaths through broadleaf woodland, rides and tree-lined avenues – a regular haunt for highwaymen – so the perfect place to run wild, den-build and bug hunt. Eyes peeled for the emperor dragonfly. They love it here. View the walks here.
Coffee stop – Stubbings Cafe on the fabulous Stubbings Estate is open for takeaway seven days a week, 9am-4pm. You can grab hot drinks to warm your frozen pinkies and treat yourself to a sweet or savoury snack. Go on, you deserve it after the miles you have clocked up. The plant nursery is also open, so you can treat yourself to a Spring bloom while you’re there.
Reading Circular River Walk (3.5km)
Starting at Reading Bridge (above), 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 and Forbury Gardens. Best of all, it shouldn’t take you more than an hour. Route here.
Coffee stop – Get your urban coffee fix at Coffee Under Pressure at St Mary’s Butt, Reading. They brew with love, so if you’re walking around town pop in for a cracking cuppa – open for takeaway, seven days a week during lockdown.
Stanford Dingley, Nr Newbury (6.4km)
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 there’s half a chance you’ll bump into a dog-walking Cambridge or Middleton. This moderate four-mile stomp is a two-hour belter with some steep sections, a couple of hills and some muddy, uneven ground, but there are a few shortcuts if you want to bail out early. A colourful walk to see the seasons change that’s particularly lovely in spring. View walk here.
Coffee stop – Chocolate box pretty village with pretty café in the square. The Pantry has a fantastic local reputation, so you can imagine the buzz when they announced this week that they would be reopening for takeaway on Saturdays and Sundays. Serving Kingdom Coffee and Happy Larder tea, they serve an epic selection of cakes, hot sarnies and, if there’s a sausage roll, buy it. They’re seriously good.
Hurley to Marlow River Walk (2.5km)
A daily dose of wellbeing in one walk. The riverside path from Hurley to Marlow and back is an easy peasy stroll that delivers birds, wildlife and a spectacular river view with trees hanging over the water, and boats moored along the bank. Start at Hurley Lock and head along the path to Marlow Bridge. Then turn around and head back to where you started. View the walk here.
Coffee stop – Fego is a buzzy café on the high street serving Climpson & Sons coffee plus breakfast and lunch dishes with a South African twist. There’s also smoothies, juices and shakes for the caffeine-averse. Open 8.30-4.30pm every day.
Pangbourne Circular Walk (6km)
You’re in Wind In The Willlows territory, Kenneth Grahame loved Pangbourne, so I think you’ll love this riverside romp. It’s a decent 6km circular walk that starts at the train station, goes along the Thames Path to Pangbourne Meadow, onto Sulham Woods and back to the village on the river path. Route here.
Coffee stop – Resist the urge to go to Costa and walk a little further down to Baxters Café Kitchen. They’ve opened the takeaway hatch during lockdown to bring you delicious coffee, teas and hot chocolate, plus cakes, sausage rolls and their famous tartlets. Open Fridays and Saturdays, 10am-2pm.
Hermitage-Hampstead Norreys Green superhighway (4-8km)
No muddy paws or feet for starters. Work has recently been completed on creating a green superhighway on the old Didcot railway line that connects the villages of Hermitage and Hampstead Norreys in West Berkshire. It’s 2.5 miles each way, pretty flat and perfect for runners, cyclists, dog walkers and families with pushchairs or kids on bikes. A super-easy, safe stroll. View the walk here.
Nearby pitstop: Hampstead Norreys Village Shop & Café is a must-visit. Hot and cold drinks to takeaway, homemade sausage rolls, sarnies, and cakes. A well-deserved treat.
Can you recommend a lovely local walk we haven’t mentioned? Please do – the comment box below is all yours!