- For other places with the same name, see Berkshire (disambiguation).
Berkshire is a county in the South East region of England, located immediately to the west of London. Whilst its proximity to the capital and its own centres of commerce ensure a large and affluent population, Berkshire still possesses much rural scenery, including long stretches of the River Thames. A visit to Windsor and its royal castle is a must for any first-time visitor to Britain.
Towns and villages
The following towns and villages may be of interest to visitors:
- 1 Reading – County town and known for its university.
- 2 Ascot – small town known for its racecourse
- 3 Bracknell
- 4 Goring and Streatley
- 5 Hungerford
- 6 Maidenhead
- 7 Newbury
- 8 Sandhurst
- 9 Slough
- 10 Thatcham
- 11 Windsor – town known for its castle and Eton College
- 12 Wokingham
- 13 Bray – home to three-star Michelin restaurant and molecular gastronomy pioneer, The Fat Duck
- 14 Streatley
- 15 Twyford
- Beale Park, Lower Basildon, Pangbourne, 0870 777 7160. Low Season (March & Oct) 10AM-5PM; High Season (Apr-Sept 10AM-6PM). A 350-acre park dedicated to the conservation of birds and a smaller selection of mammals, with children's playgrounds, cafeteria and steam train. £6.00 adults, £4.00 children.
The M4 motorway from London to Bristol, Cardiff, and Swansea goes through Berkshire and is close to Reading, Maidenhead, and Slough. The A34 expressway from Winchester to Bicester, bypassing Newbury, brings traffic to Berkshire from the South Coast and Midlands.
Reading, Maidenhead and Slough are on the Great Western Main Line from London Paddington to Penzance and Swansea (also Bristol, Cardiff, Exeter, Plymouth etc) served by Great Western Railway (GWR). Reading is a major rail interchange, and is also served by Crosscountry services originating or terminating in Bournemouth or Southampton on their way to and from Oxford, Birmingham, Sheffield, Leeds, Manchester, and Newcastle upon Tyne. Local services, operated by GWR and South Western Railway (SWR), serve Reading from Basingstoke, Guildford, and a number of other towns in Hampshire and Surrey.
London Heathrow (LHR IATA) is the nearest airport, being just over the county border in Greater London. It is next to the M4, making everywhere in Berkshire less than an hour's drive, and some places considerably less. There are also bus connections from Heathrow to Reading, Slough, and Windsor. TfL Rail offers an indirect train service from Heathrow to Slough (30 min), Maidenhead (40 min), Reading (1 hr), and some smaller towns in between: take a London-bound train to Hayes & Harlington, then change for Reading-bound trains running in the opposite direction.
London Gatwick (LGW IATA) is the second-nearest airport, being around 50-75 miles (80-120 km) by road to Berkshire, depending on where you're going. GWR also operate direct trains from LGW to Sandhurst, Wokingham, and Reading (roughly 1 hr 30 min).
Bray has 3 Michelin-starred restaurants, the most in one place outside of London.
On the whole Reading is a safe place, but, like most towns and cities in the country it can have its problems. The centre on a Friday and Saturday night can be intimidating for someone if they are not used to the kind of atmosphere generated.
Just west of Reading town centre, and in particular the Oxford Road district, though improved, has suffered from drug abuse and the sex trade. These areas are similar to those found around London, and are best avoided at night. The Forbury Gardens and Abbey ruins, though attractive during the day, are best avoided after dark.
As always just be cautious of your surroundings; it's obvious in Reading when one enters into a rougher area, but generally one's chances of being a victim in Reading are slim.