Berkshire


From Japanese car manufacturing to the Royal Household, this squashed-in county, sandwiched largely between Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Wiltshire varies wildly in its connections and tourist attractions.

This is home to Windsor Castle, which will more than fill a day of your trip. Outside the walls of Europe’s longest occupied palace, Windsor Great Park was once the palace’s private hunting estate. Now all its vastness is open to the public as well as the deer.

If your Windsor holiday needs more entertainment for the kids, head down the road and brave the queues at Legoland. Continuing the kids theme, Buckleberry Farm Park is a fabulous day out, though the village is perhaps more famous as the Berkshire family home of Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge.

Sticking in this part of the county, you might plump for a cottage in Eton or Dachet. Pretty villages for a weekend break within easy reach of Dorney Lake – most likely to draw the rower, kayaker or triathlete in the family.

For the shopaholic in your party, head to Swindon, Newbury or Reading. Huge outlets and plenty of parking, or accessible by train, mean you’ll easily lose a day, and probably a little more from your wallet.

But head off the beaten track in these parts and you’ll find every Downton Abbey fan’s dream day out. Highclere Castle, seat of the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon, is tucked away off the A34 as it winds through West Berkshire.

The foodie in your family won’t be disappointed either. Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck at Bray probably tops the Berkshire bill, but you’ll find his protégé’s at the Miller of Mansfield, Goring. If a coastal cottage holiday is next on your list, head for The Crab, Chieveley, where the fishing artefact decor drops more than a hint at the seafood supper you’re about to devour.