Reading town centre
The centre of Reading itself may a little too heavy on bland office blocks and chain cafes for many tastes, but things are changing. Crossrail has brought with it a major overhaul for the town and its dowdy image.
Upmarket stores, hotels and housing developments have sprung up to meet the demand of London commuters who see Reading as the perfect balance of distance and proximity to the big smoke. Now also a leading tech hub in its own right, Reading is also home to a large student population jostling for space in the town’s more central areas.
Family neighbourhoods in Reading
As you’d imagine, Reading and its environs offer families plenty of property options. The suburb of Caversham north of the town is highly sought after for its country feel and beautiful period homes. Just to the east of Reading, Earley is another popular area for families looking for good-sized homes with great local amenities.
A little further east, Woodley offers a relaxed family neighbourhood at a lower price point. Around 4 miles to the southeast of Reading, the village of Winnersh is another popular option close to Reading but offering plenty of rural charm. Norcot and Tilehurst lie to the west of the centre of Reading, and offer good value terraced and semi-detached housing on the doorstep of the North Wessex Downs AONB.
North Wessex Downs
A large Area of Natural Beauty sitting to the west of Reading, the North Wessex Downs spans the counties of Berkshire, Hampshire, Oxfordshire and Wiltshire. Visitors can explore historic villages and towns like Marlborough, with its beautiful market square and renowned school.
The Kennet and Avon canal runs though the Downs, offering miles of towpath walking trails and bike rides. Savernake Forest offers 4,500 acres of woodland that dates back over 1,000 years, while Highclere Castle will be instantly recognisable to fans as the location of the TV series Downton Abbey.
The Bronze-Age Uffington White Horse is another major visitor attraction. It is thought to be the oldest chalk hill figure in the UK, and is dated at over 3,000 years old. Dated to around 500 years later is the World heritage Site at Avebury – the remarkable stone circles that visitors can walk amongst, unlike those of nearby Stonehenge.
Transport in and around Reading
Reading station is one of the busiest rail interchanges in the UK. Services depart from reading for most parts of the country, including GWR services west to Bath, Bristol and the South West and eastwards into London Paddington. South West Trains run into London Waterloo and Basingstoke while Cross Country Trains run south towards Bournemouth and north up to the Midlands and beyond.
Once the Elizabeth Line is fully operational, services will run four times per hour directly into central London. Reading Buses operate extensive services around the town and out to many of the surrounding suburbs and villages. Newbury Buses, Arriva, First and Thames Travel also operate local bus services.