Far more than a convenient town from which to commute to London, exploring the walks in Reading will reveal all sorts of intriguing things if you know where to look. This thriving market town lies on the confluence of the River Thames and the River Kennet along with the Kennet & Avon Canal. Add in the numerous lakes on its outskirts and you’re scarcely more than a stone’s throw from water wherever you go.
There’s a wonderful variety of hikes in Reading and throughout its vibrant surroundings. It’s bordered to the north and west by two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and has pockets of woodlands, parks and riverside trails all within easy reach of the centre. Whether you’re looking for a short Sunday stroll, a day-long adventure or a multi-day expedition, there’s something for you in this historic town.
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Canal boats, kingfishers and waterside trails
Considering its inland location, this old town has more than a touch of watery landscape about it. In fact, some of the best hiking trails in Reading visit a watercourse of some description. The Thames is the town’s most obvious artery, and a beautiful companion for adventures, with its peaceful banks and puttering boats. There’s a trail that follows its southern bank for considerable distances, allowing you to use the river as a pretty route for hikes out of Reading.
The River Kennet flows in from the south west and also has trails along its beautiful, verdant banks. The Kennet & Avon Canal runs alongside it, often using sections of the river to aid its journey. The confluence of the Kennet and Thames is immediately north east of the town centre, next to Caversham Lakes. This lake system not only makes for a lovely place to walk in Reading, but you can even cool off there by taking a dip.
Blending historic sites and beautiful landscapes
Just upriver from Caversham Lakes and Reading town lies the village of Sonning and its picturesque span, Sonning Bridge. To the west of the centre you can find the huge Prospect Park, a Grade II-listed green space, along with its impressive 18th-century mansion house. For a touch of Reading’s oldest history, seek out the ruined abbey in the heart of the town, which lies just between the Thames and the Kennet.
To the north west, you can hike along the Thames to reach the grand Elizabethan house, Mapledurham, and its exquisite estate. Built on the site of a 12th-century manor, this stunning private estate is still owned by the same family who built it in the 16th century. You can take tours of the house, watermill and grounds.
Getting to Reading
Reading is particularly well connected by train and road from London, Bristol and Southampton. There are abundant local buses and, if you happen to have a river boat, you can even tie up in the marina.
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