6 family walks in East Berkshire

by Jan

Are you looking for walks with kids in Berkshire? Whether you need easy nature trails or longer woodland hikes, here are 6 fabulous family walks in East Berkshire.

Unfortunately, with lockdown restrictions still in place, entertaining the kids is looking very different this winter. We have been forced to explore closer to home and getting the kids outdoors is definitely the best way to burn off their excess energy.

Luckily, Berkshire in South-East England has plenty of choice when it comes to family walks and adventures.  With castle walks, royal hunting grounds and nature reserves there is something for everyone and we have tried some of the best for you.

Read on for our 6 favourite family walks in East Berkshire.  Then it’s walking shoes on and what are you waiting for?

Finchampstead Ridges, Wokingham

View from Finchampstead Ridges, Berkshire, UK
  • Start point:               RG45 6AE (Simon’s Wood car park)
  • Type of walk:           Circular (2 km)
  • Refreshments:         No
  • Cost:                          Free

Firstly, we’ll head for the National Trust’s Finchampstead Ridges.  This is a woodland nature trail that follows through Simon’s Wood and around Brook’s Heath.  The route joins the track of the old Devil’s Highway, which once joined London with Silchester.

The trail at Finchampstead Ridges is on boardwalks and forest floor and is perfect for a fun family walk in East Berkshire.  However, it has a couple of hilly sections, so may not  be suitable for pushchairs.

This circular walk at Finchampstead Ridges takes about 40 minutes.  Admission is free.

Bench at Entrance to Finchampstead Ridges, Berkshire, UK

If you go in Autumn you will be able to forage for sweet chestnuts, which are abundant here.

Sandhurst Memorial Park

View across Balancing Pond at Sandhurst, Berkshire, UK
  • Start point:         GU47 9BJ (Sandhurst Memorial Park car park)
  • Type of walk:     Circular
  • Refreshments:   Pistachios Café
  • Cost:                     Free

To start,  follow the footpath from the car park at Sandhurst Memorial Park until you come to a picturesque balancing pond.  This pretty pond is a haven for wildlife and you’ll be able to spot plenty of waterfowl.

From here you can do a short circular walk round the pond and retrace your steps back to the playground and sports areas.  Alternatively, take the footpath at the far end of the pond and head for Shepherd Meadows.

Shepherd Meadows is a nature conservation area covering 40 hectares of lowland meadow and woodland.  The trail follows the River Blackwater and has been recognised as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) because of the important wildlife.

The path is flat and accessible to buggies and wheelchairs.  It’s also ideal as a family cycle route.

Swinley Forest, Bracknell

  • Start point:        RG12 7QW (The Look Out)
  • Type of walk:     Circular
  • Refreshments:   Café
  • Cost:                    Car parking charges apply
Walking in Swinley Forest, Berkshire, England

Now, our favourite of the family walks in East Berkshire is at Swinley Forest, in Bracknell.  This is probably because there is so much choice.  You really could do a different route every visit.

Swinley Forest is a large expanse of Crown Estate, not far from Windsor Great Park.  It covers over 2,600 acres of woodland and is the perfect place to spend some time in the great outdoors.

The forest has several walking routes, but quite honestly you can walk for miles from the Look Out Discovery Centre.  Plus, there are plenty of extra trails that lead into the woods, so are perfect for little explorers!  It is also a popular spot for cyclists.

Once you’ve had your walk, the Look Out Discovery Centre has a fantastic children’s zone.  Kids love the large natural playground, with wooden trains, ships, and castles.

Alternatively, families could head to the den-building area or take to the trees with Go Ape.  If it’s raining the Look Out has an indoor interactive science centre for younger children.

Find out more about The Look Out at Swinley Forest here.

The Long Walk, Windsor

View through stone circle of Windsor Long Walk, Berkshire, England
  • Start point:        Windsor Castle (George IV gateway)
  • Type of walk:    Out and back (8 km)
  • Refreshments:  The Windsor Castle pub, Windsor
  • Cost:                    Car parking charges apply

As its name suggests, the Long Walk at Windsor is the longest of our family walks in East Berkshire.  The route starts at the George IV Gateway by Windsor Castle and stretches for 2.64 miles to the Copper Horse Statue of King George III statue on Snow Hill.  You’ll also pass a statue of Queen Elizabeth on her horse.

This grand avenue of trees is a popular walk, especially if you want breath-taking views of Windsor Castle.  It’s very accessible as the path is flat and even and you may see some of the 500 Red Deer who roam freely here.

However, the Long Walk is not for everyone, as the avenue is very straight and the scenery, though stunning, is unchanging.

Alternatively Virginia Water Lake is a great venue for a family walk.

If you don’t want to park in Windsor town centre, park at Cranbourne Gate car park on the A332 and do the walk in reverse.

Heath Lake Nature Reserve, Crowthorne

Heath Lake, Crowthorne, Berkshire, UK
  • Start point:         RG40 3AY (Nine Mile Ride, Wokingham)
  • Type of walk:     Circular
  • Refreshments:   No
  • Cost:                    Free

If you’re looking for a short, easy walk in Berkshire, head to Heath Lake Nature Reserve in Wokingham.  Located in 22 hectares of heathland, this picturesque lake is the only acid lake in Berkshire and is home to several species of rare plants.

You can take a short circular walk around the lake or extend your walk further into the woods.  The route is less than a mile, so is an ideal walk for younger kids.

The Thames Path at Sonning

Canal boat moored at Sonning, Berkshire
  • Start point:        RG4 6UT
  • Type of walk:     Out and back
  • Refreshments:   Coppa Club or The Bull Inn
  • Cost:                     Free

The picturesque village of Sonning sits on the River Thames near Reading on the Berkshire borders with Oxfordshire.  Sonning has been a bridging place across the Thames since the Roman days and today you can still see the iconic 18th Century bridge with its 10 brick arches.

From the bridge you can follow the Thames Path* on a riverside walk up to Sonning Lock, where kids will enjoy watching ducks and boats come through.

Alternatively, if you cross Sonning Bridge and walk in the other direction, you can follow the trail to Shiplake.

If you’re looking for refreshments there’s several good choices in Sonning.  Head to the bridge for The Coppa Club, a stylish riverside venue which is open for refreshments from breakfast until dinner.  Or if you are looking for something different, try one of their super-cool igloos in the garden.

Alternatively, the Bull Inn by the churchyard is a historic pub that was once owned by the Bishop of Salisbury.  It now offers traditional pub food and Sunday roasts.

The Thames Path is a national walking trail, which leads for 184 miles from The Cotswolds to the heart of London.

What are your favourite family walks in East Berkshire?  We’d love to hear your comments below.

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