Reading has more to offer than the Oracle and shopping in town centre. If you only walk few minutes away from the town centre you’ll find fantastic walking routes. Those urban trails will show you different side of Reading – full of historic buildings, beautiful views, outstanding architecture and more. If you’re wondering what to do in Reading this post is your answer.
Choose one of four urban walks in Reading and enjoy the town in a way that you didn’t before. Here’s your guide.
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Castle Street to Prospect Park
This walk starts in town centre, just off St. Mary’s Butts and goes all the way to West Reading.
What it’s all about?
I walked this route on my own and with my husband. On a weekday and on a weekend afternoon and it has always made the same impression on me. It’s long but relaxing. Even though a short part of it goes along busy Tilehurst Road as soon as you turn to Southcote Road and Parkside Road you forget about the noise.
Walk starts in Russell Street/Castle Hill Conservation area. The beginning is full of historic houses that look like they’ve been in Reading forever, probably even before it was Reading. There’s St. Mary’s church, my favourite Almhouses and Rowberry Morris & Co, 16th century house that used to an inn. It also served as doctor’s residence and a surgery. Since 1971 it’s been home to the solicitors company. St. Mary’s Church and the old inn will be open to the public during upcoming Heritage Open Days.
The best part for me, however, starts on Southcote Road and on Parkhouse Lane. Through the narrow passage you’ll enter residential area that’s hard to be found in other parts of Reading. It feels as you would enter a secret garden. Pay attention especially to the houses between Parkside Road and Liebenrood Road. They remind me to some extent of Chinese pagoda, ornamental gardens and because of being white breath freshness into the area.
For a coffee/lunch choose Park Café located in YMCA building. It’s a nice modern café with good food and area for kids. End the walk in Prospect Park. It doesn’t feel as closed as other parks. Because of that you feel like you’re way away from urban areas while staying close to them.
Why? Just to walk through Parkhouse Lane and experience the quietness in the middle of town.
Long or Short? Long
If you like this walk you may also like walk along Bath Road.
Just go out through north exit at the train station and cross Reading Bridge. Go downstairs and you will find Whittington’s Tea Barge to start with.
What it’s all about?
Getting village-y feel of Reading. You can read detailed description of Caversham walk that I wrote couple of months ago and/or an interview with Sarah Roy, local jam lady, so here’s only a snippet.
Start with afternoon tea at the Whittington’s Tea Barge. Burn all you’ve eaten walking along the Thames. Go all the way to Caversham Court Gardens, sit down on the grass and observe boats and canoes passing by. If you’re lucky you’ll get to see a kayak race. Once you’ve done that go around the gardens to see old trees, pretty flowers and cat mint. The latter looks like lavender but it isn’t. It’s called cat mint, because cat likes it but according to the gardener at Caversham Court Gardens, no cat likes the mint in the gardens.
If gazebo is open make sure to make your way up there to admire the view. Even though it’s located only a little bit above the ground the view from there is stunning. You can also think about the history of the gardens while there – family who owned them and lived in Caversham Court used the gazebo to have dinners in the summer.
For more cakes (homemade by volunteers of 5 different charities) go to the Tea Kiosk. Don’t worry you’ll burn those too walking up the hill to 12th century St. Peter’s church.
Make sure to stroll around the graveyard for few minutes to see all the beautiful old graves. If you want to explore residential part of Caversham continue through The Mount. If you’re more in a shopping mood head to Caversham town centre to explore quite a few charity shops, local butcher, bakery, Alto Lounge, Siblings Home, Terrys Framing shop and more.
Long or Short? Medium
The best thing? Caversham Court Gardens, Tea Kiosk and Whittington’s Tea Barge
Why? To see the view from gazebo at Caversham Court Gardens and sit down at Home Siblings
Walk east along Kennet & Avon canal from the town centre, turn right up Cholmley Road and then continue all the way up Liverpool Road.
What it’s all about?
I used to live few minutes’ walk from Palmer Park, so it would be my place to go to. You can walk around as it’s quite a good stroll or you can visit a few places that the park is quite famous for.
You can go to the bowling green (Palmer Park Bowling club accepts new members), have lunch and/or coffee at Chalkboard Café or go to the library. The latter one is worth visiting not only because of the books but also to see the awesome knitting job somebody’s done. There’s knitted bunting, toys, chair covers and even bike racks are covered with knitted snakes.
If you fancy to add more meaning or spirituality to your walk, pop in to United Reformed Park Church and pick up their prayer walk leaflet. It refers to the park past and presence and suggests a few stops at which you can stop and pray for certain things. For example, near the train tracks you can pray for all those who commute every day on that train line (that includes me!) Near St. Bartholomew’s church you can pray for different communities living in the area and for unity between them. The church is a home not only to Anglican congregation but also organises Christian worship in Panjabi and Urdu and hosts Read College, a drama school.
If you fancy a longer walk, go out through South West exit, walk up a bit on Wokingham Road and turn to Crescent Road. This area is a paradise for those who like looking at really impressive houses.
Long or Short? Short
The best thing? Strolling around the park and enjoying a relaxing moment + knitted things in the library
Why? Because walking in green areas helps your mental health, they say.
If you would like to get to know more about knitting works in the library and get to know East Reading better, sign up for Walkletter to be the first to know about the walk I will lead in partnership with Pop Up Reading in October!
Cintra Park and Christchurch Road
You may need to take a bus from town centre to get there. Spitzer that goes to the university is good. You can gett off at Kendrick Road and walk up the hill.
What it’s all about?
I remember when I first got to Cintra Park. From Christchurch Road I saw its entrance but wasn’t sure what it was. I thought it may have been a tiny green space not even worth walking to. Yes, it’s not big but it’s cosy. I like this narrow alley in between the trees (picture below), outdoor gym station and the fact that I took some pretty pictures there for Beauty of Rwanda, a non-profit organisation I used to volunteer for (also pictured below). There’s a pavilion which I think is a home to some kind of café. I only saw the info on a poster, so I’m not quite sure about it.
On the exit from the park walk towards Christchurch Road to see Christchurch Parish Church, some of the buildings of Abbey School and Phoenix School. All of them have interesting architecture and are worth paying attention to.
For the curious ones – go through the narrow passage at Lancaster Place. See what you discover on the other end. I walked in that area many times but never had time to go through the passage but once. Once I did, I felt like I walked through a magical gate or a portal and landed in completely different place.
Long or Short? Short
Why? To find out that Reading is in the valley and to see view of the town that you can’t get from anywhere else.
The best thing? Cintra Park and Lancaster Place