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Reasons to Staycation in Berkshire this Autumn

After a summer spent rushing about, autumn gifts us the chance to explore closer to home. Staycationing, especially at the moment, is a stress-free way to discover new places and really recharge. Choosing the right place to holiday at home though is crucial. The best autumn breaks need to combine world-class sights, absorbing activities and the chance to unwind. Which is why Berkshire is the ideal staycation destination. No other county offers you the chance to explore Windsor Castle, go fly fishing on the River Lambourn, recharge at the elegant Donnington Grove country estate and try your hand at clay pigeon shooting. The county also has the royal seal of approval – after all The Queen chooses to spend her weekends there too.

Windsor Castle

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You’ve seen the imposing battlements of Windsor Castle in newspapers and on TV screens. But have you ever actually been? Built in the 11th century, Windsor is the oldest and biggest occupied castle in the world. The Queen is the latest of 39 monarchs to make it her home. 

And you can book a visit inside. Tour the State Apartments, marvel at historic St George's Chapel, be guided around the Castle Precincts and see the Changing of the Guard. Check for the latest opening details but Thursday and Saturday traditionally offer access to both St George’s Chapel and the Changing of the Guard. You’ll be in particularly good company on Saturdays, as Her Majesty normally spends her weekends here too.

Fly Fishing on the River Lambourn

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The River Lambourn is a chalk stream that rises in the Berkshire Downs and flows into the River Kennet, a tributary of the River Thames. A Site of Special Scientific Interest and a protected area for birds, it’s a supremely scenic waterway. The 500 acre Donnington Grove country estate has an ideal section on which to learn to fish. The estate’s half-mile stretch has a bright gravel bottom, gin-clear water and is not too wide. 

While the river trout season runs from mid-April to September, autumn and winter are the perfect times to learn the art of fly fishing by trying to catch grayling. Then, once the trout seasons starts, you’ll be well placed to land a couple of fish. You can hire Donnington’s resident guide, John Stevens by the day – he can also provide all the tackle you need.

Basildon Park

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18th century Basildon Park is an elegant mansion that was destined for destruction after being requisitioned by the armed forces in WWII. Since then it’s been carefully restored and is now managed by the National Trust. The Palladian house features a wealth of Old Masters paintings and fine furnishings, including an elaborate hall and a stunning staircase.

The 400-acre estate is home to rich parkland and woods and has glorious seasonal colour displays. There are picturesque family-friendly trails, with sign-posted circular walks ranging from 0.5 to 3 miles. As ever at a National Trust property you can round off your visit with cakes and hot drinks in the tea room, and a touch of retail therapy in the shop.

Clay Pigeon Shooting

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There are few things more satisfying than seeing an orange clay burst apart mid-air after you’ve taken a shot. There’s also the sense of anticipation – that tense moment before your flying target leaves the trap. The whiff of spent cartridges in the autumnal air completes a quintessentially English scene.

The elegant Donnington Grove country estate is an ideal place to give the sport a try. All equipment is provided and skilled staff give lessons for all abilities. The estate is also home to an 18 hole Championship golf course, excellent fly fishing, the renowned Beau's Bar and Restaurant and the luxury Avalon Spa. So you can combine a spot of clay pigeon shooting with a relaxing autumnal staycation break. What’s more, Windsor Castle and Basildon Park are less than an hour’s drive away.

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