The best autumnal walks in Berkshire
There’s no doubt that Berkshire is a walker’s paradise. With sprawling woodland, historic landmarks and breathtaking hilltop views, exploring on foot is one of the best ways to discover all that Berkshire has to offer.
When autumn rolls around, that best gets even better. With the crisp air on your cheeks and rich red and gold leaves as far as the eye can see, an autumnal walk in Berkshire is nothing short of magical. And the best bit? Wherever you want to explore, Berkshire means you’re spoiled for choice.
Dinton Pastures Country Park
There aren’t many autumnal walks in Berkshire that offer more than Dinton Pastures Country Park. In fact, it’s almost cheating to mention it – with 350 acres of woodland and meadow, two rivers, seven lakes and numerous trails to follow, the park could fill a list all by itself.
One of the park’s lakes is a nature reserve, and Dinton Pastures is home to wildlife ranging from deer and peregrine falcons to rabbits, bats and red foxes. There are three public bird hides throughout the park – one of which is wheelchair accessible – for anyone wanting to spot the more than 130 species of birds who call the park home.
Located between Wokingham and Reading, Dinton Pastures has easy access with six pay and display car parks. There are also several cafes dotted throughout the park, from quick coffee and snacks to lakeside lunches.
Donnington Castle and Snelsmore Common Circular
This 3.6 mile walk is right on Donnington Grove’s doorstep, with a free car park at Snelsmore Common. It takes roughly an hour and a half to complete with a few steep inclines along the way, but the challenge is worth it for one of the best autumnal walks in Berkshire.
As you can tell by the name, the main attraction of this route is the medieval ruins of Donnington Castle. Built in 1386, the castle overlooked Donnington and Newbury for almost 300 years and is said to have hosted the Tudor monarchs Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. It was largely demolished after the Civil War, although its original 14th century gatehouse remains standing.
Down in the Snelsmore Common section of the walk you can crunch your way through autumnal woodland and fill up your camera roll with the wild heather as your backdrop. If you need to recharge after – or want something to walk off – there are plenty of pubs and restaurants bordering the common and in nearby Bagnor.
Reading Circular River Walk
You might think all the best autumnal walks in Berkshire mean striking out for the countryside or quaint villages, but even Berkshire’s biggest town has some hidden gems to find.
If you’re looking for a gentle stroll that mixes autumn beauty with seeing the sights, the Reading Circular River Walk is for you. This 3 mile route takes about an hour to explore the Thames and Kennet riversides as well as King’s Meadow beneath lines of autumn trees. The walk is almost entirely flat, with the only elevation being the steps that lead down to and up from the riverside sections.
Being in the town, there are plenty of places along the way to grab a spiced warm drink of your choice or take a comfort break if you need one. For the history buffs, the walk also takes in the ruins of Reading’s 12th century abbey and passes Reading Museum.
Windsor Great Park
One of the county’s most iconic sights is of course Windsor Castle. And luckily for anyone planning a trip to see the royal residence, the nearby Windsor Great Park offers some of the best autumnal walks in Berkshire.
With nearly 5,000 acres of woodland, parkland and gardens, there are actually several ways to explore Windsor Great Park. It’s possible to cover them all in one day if you start early enough, but it’s best to pick one or two walks to avoid rushing around.
The most famous is arguably the Long Walk, which leads from Windsor Castle’s gates to the Copper Horse statue of George III. It’s a fairly straightforward walk from Point A to Point B, but as it runs through the historic Deer Park there are plenty of opportunities to leave the paved path behind for the ancient oak woodland.
For a scenic route with more to discover along the way, check out Virginia Water Lake at the southern end of the park. As well as taking in the tranquil serpentine lake, the route also passes by the Cascade waterfall, stones from Roman temple ruins in Libya, and a Kwakiutl totem pole gifted to Queen Elizabeth in 1958. You can start the 4.5 mile route from the Virginia Water Pavilion, where you’ll find parking and toilets, or round it up to 5 miles by starting from Savill Gardens.
Whether you’re looking for country parks, woodland or tree-lined riversides, an autumnal walk in Berkshire never disappoints. And at Donnington Grove, we’re lucky enough to have a slice of that in our own backyard.
With 500 acres of gorgeous countryside laid out before you, it’s easy to spend the whole day exploring without ever leaving the estate. Enjoy a stroll along the River Lambourn as it passes through the grounds, relax in the walled garden, and watch for the deer, kites and other wildlife who share the estate with us.
If your walk leaves you wanting to experience the estate a different way, Donnington Grove also offers clay pigeon shooting as well as an 18-hole championship golf course and driving range. With the magnificent autumnal countryside as your backdrop, it’s a unique autumnal experience just waiting to be had.