You can walk the Thames path, from Reading to either side, and take a train back from Pangbourne, Goring or Henley. A few very nice villages are situated on the bank of the river: Sonning, Mapledurham, Pangbourne, Goring.
Read "Three man in a boat" from Jerome K. Jerome to see that nothing much has changed over the last 130 years. The pub "The Swan" is still as described in the book at Pangbourne lock.
Harris Arcade in Reading's town centre is a welcome change to the huge and expensive shopping malls we all know.
All the shops are owner occupied and offer expert advice and excellent value for money.
The shops include excellent cafe's/sandwich bars... perfect for a coffee & chat, hair dresser, second hand books, collectables, canvas and photo printing specialist and the wonderfully named 'Strange Sweets', you need to visit to find out why !
It is astonishing and rather sad that so many people living in Reading have no idea where it is or even that it exists.
Because of Reading's river and canalside location there are plenty plenty of ways to get out and about either by walking or cycling and by all accounts plenty of pubs along the ways. Perhaps this should be a "Warning or Danger" tip in that if you take the path along the canal to the east of the town you can have a canalside walk or cycle but unfortunately no pubs!
I did find the sewage works though!
But a pleasant wander nevertheless.
If you're walking or cycling, you can get away from Reading's main roads & go to places that motorists & bus passengers don't see.
These pictures are along Kennetside from Duke Street to Sidmouth Street.
There are some pleasant, largely traffic-free, conveniently located, affordable riverside housing areas that are a short walk from all the facilities of Reading's busy town centre.
This is my favourite walk along the River Kennett just off the city centre in Reading..... it's rather hidden and generally only locals know about it.
It's a natural sanctuary and just the other weekend I took a walk there and spotted the first nesting ducks and to my amazement ... an otter -- jumping and diving in the river alongside me!!
You can also watch the colourful barges drift along the river - a very relaxing experience all together :)
Flowing Springs Pub is located in Sonning on Henley Road. It's about 10 minutes from the city centre of reading. The atmosphere was friendly, food was well priced and large serves. Our order was served promptly and a couple that had arrived earlier were given a free drink each for their order delay. I thought this showed good customer service.
They have an outside beer garden and i imagine this would be fantastic on a sunny summer afternoon. They also had a policy on mobile phones - that is they are not permitted to be used inside the pub.
Warning though, they do have dogs inside so if this concnerns you then it may not be worth you visiting.
Meals were priced from 4 pounds for soup upto about 6 pound 50 for seafood or roast of the day.
Although biscuits aren't made in Reading anymore. The factory buidling still remains to the east of the town. The workers park still remains but has sadly allen into neglect over the last few years. It used to be immaculate up until the mid eigthes. Sense of place has a web site dedicated to the history of the factory. It used to emply 5,000 selling biscuits all over the world. Reading town was name the 'Biscuit Town' and it's football team the 'Biscuit Men'.
Thomas Hardy called Reading 'Aldbrickham' - the old brick town. Jude the Obscure began his final decline here. As well as some very elegant nineteenth century brick buildings, as for example in London Street, there are some splendid examples of the bricklayer's whimsy. A good place to find them is in the streets around Oxford Road.
I couldn't resist squeezing this one in - if you need any washing done whilst in Reading, and you might if you've come by narrow boat, bring it to this launderette in Oxford Road. At least they're honest about the laws of nature regarding laundry!
Bar 'The Bull'... was close to the Heckfield, but I cannot describe its actual location now. In 1988 I loved this small bar with its warm atmosphere and friendly owners. I hope this little bar still exists...
There is an excellent selection of West Indian cuisine on sale in the Oxford road at a bakery run by the local Church. It is about 500yds up the road from Reading centre on the left hand side after the bus stop.
Well, I think this is not so unbeaten but anyhow it is not crowded: Christchurch Playing Fields is a garden along the river Thames; you can easily find people playing something or just walking or people watching. It is really relaxing and just few minutes away from the railway station.
Guildford isn't far away with its magnificent cathedral - the setting for some of the scenes from The Omen.
Hidden away in the suburbs of Reading are some lovely peaceful spots, such as this one near Calcot Mill.