55 Northbrook Street
55 Northbrook Street
1 High Street
37 High Street
Welcome to our Berkshire area guide where we will be taking a look at this beautiful county, together with details on transport links, schooling, property prices and things to do.
This, combined with its beautiful landscape and excellent schools, makes it a natural choice for many families wishing to enjoy the country life but remain close to the capital, with a number of attractive market towns and lovely villages.
The Strutt & Parker offices in Newbury and Pangbourne cover the whole of West Berkshire between them, with the support of the National Country House Department, based in our head office. As well as unique and imposing country houses, Berkshire has its fair share of manor houses, farms, detached family homes with land and quaint cottages.
A rich sporting destination
There is no shortage of leisure activities in Berkshire; golf lovers will be happy with the 40-odd golf courses and horse racing fans are spoilt for choice with racecourses at Newbury, Ascot and Windsor. The 24,200 capacity Madejski stadium is home to both Reading Football Club and the rugby union club London Irish, with both teams attracting huge crowds from throughout the surrounding area on match days.
The county’s interesting landscape – rolling hills and downland – make it an ideal spot for all sorts of activities, including walking, cycling and horse-riding. The rivers and canals zigzagging through the county also provide extensive opportunities for enjoying the great outdoors, as well as being home to some interesting wildlife.
There are also plenty of exciting days out on your doorstep: Windsor Castle, the National Trust’s beautiful Basildon Park, Legoland and Go Ape in Bracknell, to name but a few.
It also benefits from a wealth of good pubs, golf courses and amenities.
Our Strutt & Parker teams in Pangbourne and Newbury recommend the following:
Pubs & restaurants
Many of the picturesque villages of West Berkshire have a successful traditional pub at their heart and, of these, The Harrow at Little Bedwyn, The Pheasant Inn in Shefford Woodlands, The Dundas Arms in Kintbury, The Leatherne Bottel in Goring and The Royal Oak in Yattendon also boast an excellent dining experience.
For something a little different, The Crab at Chieveley offers unforgettable seafood and the Palm, near Froxfield, is well renowned locally for its superb Indian cuisine. The Strutt & Parker Newbury office also recommends the The Vineyard at Stockcross, especially for a hearty breakfast, and The Woodspeen restaurant with its Michelin Star.
The Hennesy Festival is hosted each year at the Newbury Racecourse, culminating in the highly popular Hennessy Gold Cup. For the countryside lover, The Royal County of Berkshire Show is a must-see and, of course, the Reading Festival goes without saying!
Secret spots & country walks
Being full to the brim of beautiful countryside, there is no shortage of places to get out and enjoy the great outdoors in West Berkshire. For fabulous and far reaching views, try Coombe Gibbet or the top of Streatley Hill. The towpath between Newbury and Kintbury, and then on to Hungerford, is a lovely gentle, picturesque walk and don’t miss Welford Park, which, every February, becomes a blanket of snowdrops. The Ridgeway also provides great scope for walkers; our Pangbourne office recommends stopping for refreshments at the award-winning Bell public house at Aldworth!
Bucklebury is an attractive village, made up of Bucklebury Common, Chapel Row and Upper Bucklebury. Across the parish there are several useful amenities, including a couple of pubs and shops, a GP and a large common which is privately owned but for public use.
To the west of the county, close to the Wiltshire border, is the small market town of Hungerford. Well known for its antique shops that line the picturesque high street, it also has a number of other independent and interesting shops, as well as a supermarket. Located in the Kennet Valley, with the canal running across the bottom of the town, and within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), there is stunning countryside on the doorstep in every direction.
It also benefits from good connections; close to the M4 and with direct rail services into London Paddington.
Just a few miles east of Hungerford sits Kintbury, boasting beautiful surroundings and excellent communications, including the unusual benefit of its own station in the heart of the village. The village has superb amenities, with an independent butcher, local shop and three pubs, including the renowned Dundas Arms.
Lambourn is a large village at the heart of the valley of the racehorse, 13 miles north west of Newbury and close to the Wiltshire and Oxfordshire borders. It sits within the beautiful Lambourn Downs, part of the North Wessex AONB. With the landscape lending itself perfectly to cycling, walking and riding, it is a major horse racing and training centre, which has allowed it to thrive in recent decades. It has an active village community with many clubs and amenities.
Well known for its racecourse, Newbury is a very popular commuter town; just an hour from London by car and less by train. It is also home to some of the country’s best private and state schools. Shopping opportunities on the pedestrianised high street have greatly improved recently with the addition of the new Parkway Shopping Centre. The town isn’t short of entertainment and culture either, with the Corn Exchange & New Greenham Arts – as well as the unique Watermill Theatre – offering a wide variety of theatre, music, dance, comedy and much more.
The town sits within an AONB, with the beautiful surrounding landscape being home to Highclere Castle, of Downton Abbey fame, as well as many charming villages.
Pangbourne is a village five miles from Reading. It sits on the River Pang, which joins the Thames just outside the village, in an area said to have inspired the illustrations for the Wind in the Willows. The village has excellent amenities for its size, including a good selection of independent shops. The Cross Keys Inn gets good reviews from hungry walkers; a country pub with simple food and reasonable prices. Also located in Pangbourne are The Elephant, a well renowned hotel, and The Swan, a fine dining gastro pub.
Reading is the hub city and commercial centre for the region, serving a huge number of picturesque villages and small towns across West Berkshire. It has a good university, very extensive shopping, entertainment and leisure facilities, and has played host to the famous Reading Festival for over 40 years. Among a huge choice of restaurants in the city centre, the London Street Brasserie gets excellent reviews for both food and atmosphere.
Reading boasts lots of good schools and is very well connected; just a 30 minute journey, by either car or train, from London.
Goring & Streatley sit on the Thames opposite each other, about 8 miles from Reading. They are two distinct – though equally picturesque – villages but share a station and are often considered a single village. Streatley’s The Bull is a popular local pub and welcomes the many keen cyclists passing through the area enjoying the hilly landscape. In Goring, the delightful Pierreponts café offers a cosy atmosphere and great food; and The Leatherne Bottel restaurant provides a gourmet alternative.
Wantage is a small market town in The Vale of the White Horse with half-timbered buildings lining the streets. The birth place of King Alfred the Great, the well-respected secondary school of the same name is at its heart. The traditional market square offers an excellent selection of shops, pubs and restaurants; in particular, The Shoulder of Mutton is a very popular ‘real’ pub with a well-reputed vegetarian restaurant attached.
Berkshire certainly has its fair share of well-renowned schools.
Near Reading, The Oratory School has great facilities and firmly recognises the importance of extra-curricular activities and nearby Pangbourne College with its naval history is proud to be different and excels in sport. The popular Bradfield College is unique, making up virtually the entire village, and Wellington College takes a different approach to education which seems to be working wonders. There are also competitive grammar schools in Reading itself; Reading Boys & Kendrick Girls.
Near Newbury, Cheam boasts royal alumni and achieves a high number of scholarships to local renowned senior schools, as does Thorngrove. Elstree achieves great results and does particularly well in art and music. Small, individual and traditional prep schools Horris Hill and Brockhurst & Marlston House remain very popular. At senior level, Downe House girls’ school offers great accommodation and teaching as well as producing county and national level sports players.
Elsewhere, Eton College needs no introduction, Wokingham’s Ludgrove prep is well known for its intellectual and sporting achievements, as well as its content pupils; and St John’s Beaumont prep, in Windsor, concentrates on hands-on learning, with excellent results.
Dotted in delightful villages across the county are many great state primary schools. These include Brimpton, Hampstead Norreys, Compton, Englefield, St. Finian’s Catholic, Welford and Wickham and Yattendon.
For a more comprehensive list of schools in Berkshire we recommend the Good Schools Guide.
Berkshire has excellent rail connections, with Reading being a huge interchange; there are direct services to, among many other places, Gatwick, Newcastle, South Wales, the West Country, Manchester, Oxford, the Cotswolds and the South Coast. On top of this, there is a fast service (just half an hour) to London Paddington approximately every 10 minutes, with additional stopping services and trains to Waterloo.
From Hungerford, there are hourly services to Paddington (an hour and a quarter) and Reading (40 minutes). From Kintbury, it takes slightly less. From Newbury, there is one direct train hourly to Paddington, taking less than an hour, and 2 or 3 to Reading, which take around 20 minutes.
Both Pangbourne and Goring & Streatley take just under an hour to Paddington with a change at Reading; a direct service takes longer. Twice hourly services to Reading take 10 and 15 minutes respectively.
Berkshire is also blessed with good road links, with the M4 passing east to west through the county, connecting to Bristol, South Wales and London. From there, the M5 and M25 connect to the broader national road network. Similarly the A34 runs north to south, running via Newbury from Oxford to Winchester and, from there, the M3, M40 and M27 are all easily accessible.
Outdoor pursuits, exploration and sport are just a few of the things that visitors and residents can enjoy in Berkshire.