How do, lads? I'm going to be visiting the south of England late this month for a week, around the Reading area. I will mostly just be hanging out with a good friend and spending time with them, but we don't have much of an idea of what to do aside from visiting 2 or so places and traipse around the woods near where they live. I would really appreciate it if any anons from that area could advise on the what/where/how of things.
I'm a quiet sort, I like history, I like greenery, so nightlife is a moot point of sorts. I would like to visit some natural wonders like waterfalls or quarries as I'd love to find some sort of quartz as a souvenir from the hills or rivers. And might also be a weird request, does anyone know of any good tabletop shops around those areas? That sell Warhammer and all that. I figure I might as well have multiple goals in the places I'd visit.
Forgive me for maybe being vague, but I'm quite open-minded when it comes to suggestions.
Well how far are you willing to travel? You could be in the Cotswolds or the Surrey Hills within an hour by train. Or are you just thinking Reading and surroundings?
I know there's a warhammer shop in Oxford but there's probably one in Reading too.
I think the farthest we've settled is Windsor on account of me wanting to walk that big stretch of pretty greenery leading to the castle. Friend told me Hungerford is a nice quiet place with lots of antiques too. I have been told Oxford is very pretty but it might be a bit too far/out of budget, I'll check it out.
As for warhams, I don't mean an official Games Workshop store, more an independent store. Those stores usually have much cheaper prices and a friendlier atmosphere.
Actually thinking of Hungerford, we might not go as that's crossing the entire Berkshire county, farthest out of any of mine or even your suggestions. I need to check train prices for all suggestions, they take me by surprise (we don't have them in my country)
No, Malta. But Nauru is like a brother in the "unknown island in bumfuck nowheresville" club. Swinley Woods looks nice as does Bear Wood Lake and Black Swan Lake, I'm sure I'll like hiking through those (no forests in Malta neither).
anything else around such areas? Little pretty nooks and crannies any anon might have found or hold dear around those towns and Reading?
Hungerford is full of antique shops, it 's a bit twee and smug -even uncomfortably so. If you can find a way to get to the Ridgeway (it's between Hungerford/Newbury and Wantage) I'd recommend that - beautiful downland scenery, especially near the Uffington White Horse.
The cheapest way to get to Oxford is to get the bus (a bit slower than the train, but the journey is not unpleasant) - Thames Travel routes X39 and X40 leave every half-hour from Friar Street, in the centre of Reading, and from both sides of the railway station.
For countryside, I recommend climbing the Wittingham Clumps (a.k.a. the Berkshire Bubs - Bubs meaning Boobs, and when you see them, with their little nipple-like hilltops of trees, you'll see why) - you can easily walk to them from Didcot Parkway railway station (halfway on the train route from Reading to Oxford).
Castle combe is usually voted as one of the most picturesque villages in Britain, there are a few villages in a string near castle combe, and if has its own racing circuit if you fancy a track day
Thank you! All of those look lovely, I've noted them down and will discuss them with my friend. Google images paints a gorgeous picture of these places!
Weird question but any mines about? or Waterfalls and Quarries? Like I said in the OP, maybe something I can find a bit of quartz or gemstone about.
I'll keep that in mind! Also lel, I love england place names. On Google Earth saw a place called "Chipping Sodbury", which sounds like an overly polite expletive a gentleman would utter as he dropped food on the ground.
I live near chipping sodbury. Wiltshire has some of the most British place names. Wootton Bassett. Compton Verney. Market Lavington. Trowbridge. Calne. Bishops Cannings. Farleigh Hungerford.
Haha who would've thought. I've been to Salisbury once 10-11 years ago. I quite liked the place (not so much the experience as it was a rough patch). Google Earth gives me two new cool placenames. Great Yarmouth (sounds like a mythical beast) and Ravenglass (which sounds like some elvish superweapon).
I wouldn't consider myself an angloboo but I do have a strong affection for England. I'm ashamed I never visited much but if things work out I might move there in a few years.
Haha I'm not going all the way there. I just get lost running around countries in Google Earth, especially on street view.
That reminds me though, markets. Especially flea markets, car boot sales and all that. I'm both a hoarder and a DIY maniac so if you know of any such events or places nearby where one could find dirtcheap "junk" to salvage and repurpose, I would be delighted and very thankful! I am in love with trinkets.
Hmm, not really part of the country for that. It's a bit too respectable/dry for that.
You'll find LOTS of interesting trinkets in Hungerford, but they won't necessarily or usually be cheap. (This is also true of Burford, which is devastating beautiful, in the Cotswolds - get bus number 18 from Oxford to get there. And to a rather lesser extent of Wantage - get bus X1 or X32 from outside Didcot Parkway station to get there - too)
Are you familiar with the UK concept of "charity shops" (i.e. that sell second-hand products: clothing, books, music, but also antiques or household items)? They might be worth exploring. As Reading is the biggest town for miles around, you might find interesting things there - can't suggest anywhere in particular, but google streetview might help. But probably more the area of the city between the main railway station and the university campus (ie. just south of the centre) and Caversham (just on the opposite side of the River Thames from the centre of Reading - Caversham is a really nice place overall) would be the best areas to look - the west of the city (Oxford Road, Reading West) is a bit rough, and other bits like Woodley won't have much of interest either.
Not sure anything in particular comes to mind like this in Oxford or in any of the other smaller towns nearby,...
I see, thank you! Are you in the tourism industry at all? You're ridiculously knowledgeable, right down to the buses!
I am familiar yes, Malta was a British Colony and a lot of things rubbed off on us so we do have a few.
I'll certainly look for some, that's my research. Don't really know what else to ask for!
Haha, alright, makes sense. Lots of walking about. I'm jealous honestly. Malta's so small with hardly any greenery, just a single brown blob the size of maybe the Boroughs of Wokingham and Reading together. If i had access to such a landmass, I'd just go travel on foot. Might take me a while but with so much nature, goddamn.. To someone comparatively sheltered like me, even having a large park in your town is a thing of wonder.
I can't thank you enough, really. My vacation might be a lot more beautiful thanks to you.
Reading? Oh god. Poor lad. Shame you're that far up or I'd recommend South Downs. No where in particular, lots of little towns. You could hit up Chichester and Arundel but that is getting a bit out there. I live down by Portsmouth myself so it's usually what I'll do.
Cotswolds as other anon suggested is alright but if you're going that far you might as well go to the New Forest. I personally prefer it, and you've got Bournemouth and Southampton to keep you entertained.
Seriously though, if you prefer moving West instead of South, pick the Mendip Hills over Cotswolds, Check out Cheddar. It's as unique as you get down here. Hiked up what felt like a mountain and wandered through one of many dense forests for a few hours. It was bliss lad.
Have a smashing time, you've got some fantastic geographical locations to check out.
Why thank you! Yeah around Reading due to friend living and working around there and will be crashing at their place. Not complaining, it's free afterall!
I'm saving this thread periodically so I can discuss all these places with my friend. Goddamn I cannot wait, everything looks so breathtaking. I got real good feels about this, lads. I haven't had a good vacation for years (last two were ruined due to host turning out into a total cunt and the one after had to be cut short due to unavoidable work.
Plenty to see, but I hope I can find plenty to DO as well that isn't just frolicking through mother nature. Then again, that's up to me and what me and friend get up to.
On the chance that Helpfulanon is still stalking about /trv/, I have a question. My friend isn't accustomed to airports and their related trainrides so I was wondering if you had any ideas on the easiest/cheapest way to get to Reading from Luton airport without going through hoops. I haven't been to England is 11 years and will be solo with big luggage, so I don't want to risk getting lost and mugged or something unpleasant of the sort. I also don't want to pick something stupid and get charged a premium because I am not train-savvy enough to find decent routes.
Hmm, it won't be particularly cheap or particularly easy by any route, unfortunately (even though the distance is not immense).
The most straightforward thing to do would be to go by train - get a ticket from Luton Airport (or Luton Airport Parkway train station) to Reading. The train goes into London St Pancras, then you can get the Hammersmith and City Line of the Underground to Paddington, from where you can get a fast train to Reading. (your train ticket includes underground travel). There are coaches from Luton Airport to London that *might* save a bit of money, but it would be much more complicated that way.
I see, thank you for your reply. I have checked extensively and it seems the only way to get where I want to be is by several changes (2-3) and for something like 30 GBP per trip. Single trips seem to be more worthwhile than a return (plus the times. I fly back on 7am so I'll be needing to camp all night at the airport)
Actually, there are trains all through the night from St Pancras to Luton Airport, really 24 hours a day. And this is more or less true (but with longer intervals between trains) for Reading to Paddington too (look up times on www.nationalrail.co.uk) - You'd have to get a night bus from Paddington to St Pancras (route 205 I think) - but it's not a very long journey - too far to walk with luggage - but basically just along one long road for a couple of miles. Again, this would all be perfectly safe and fine and normal, the night bus, in particular, would be pretty busy more often than not.You'd need to have a contactless credit or debit card to pay for the night bus far, though, as I presume you don't have a London "Oyster card", and buses don't take cash anymore.
Also - return tickets SHOULD work out cheaper, I think. For most train journeys of over say 20 miles in the SE of England they generally do. Again, check the national rail website for precise info
I don't know what you mean by contactless but I'm honestly wary of travelling much by my lonesome burdened with luggage at night. I'd rather just leave in the late evening and just sit somewhere with my laptop for a few hours in the airport terminal. Less hassle that way too, and less chance something goes wrong and I'm buggered.
You are right in that it would be cheaper but I found out it involves a lot of hassle. Either you have parts of the trip by foot through the streets or long waiting times etc. The price for a return was about 55-58 GBP, which is negligibly cheaper to the other route I'll explain now.
The best trip I managed to find (did some research with my brother) was a single trip straight from Luton to my friend's town. There's 3 stops but I don't have to worry about purchasing extra tickets or walking or busing it neither. About 29 GBP. Then the other best route back is an evening from town to Reading and then from there to Luton. 2 tickets, 3 stops but again no walking, bus and such, all very straightforward (and I get to leave at 10pm so I can really count that as another full day too). Again, about 25-30 GBP.
Rather pay a teeny bit extra for peace of mind and little hassle honestly. Both are unfortunately very expensive, but what can you do.
op, for country side walks have a look here:
yur on southern edge of chilterns and near the rural reaches of the thames. get an ordnance survey map and plan from that. you can view OS maps on line too for free on some websites, like bikehike.co.uk
350 quid isn't enough for a week in Reading, especially with all the travel you've got in mind.
You're going to have to be extremely tight, having your mate pick up most of the bills.
If you haven't prepared a predictive financial breakdown, do so. Forget about taxis, trains at those distance will be 20+ quid. Eating out, general purchases are circumstantial. Reading will be pricier and more so the closer you get to the centre of London.
Well I'll be staying around reading not in the place, may only go there once or twice but I get your drift. The places have yet to be sifted through (friend's busy with work right now).
I'm taking that much in cash, I'm also going to have a fat 1k euros in backup on my VISA. I think I'm set, but I doubt I'm going to be spending my original cash anyway, I'm sensibly frugal and easy-going.
Thank you for the headsup, of course!
Also are you sure about the trains? I'm checking nationalrail and slapped in 3 potential trips with some distance (Reading to Oxford, Hungerford and Windsor) and they're all like 8-12 GBP return per person. That's not bad honestly.
Oxford is relatively cheap, you can see most of its sights for free. If you want to see inside the university, provided you look relatively young, just say you are a prospective student and they sometimes let you look around. Try a different part of the uni if one says no
ignore this op this poster is talking rubbish.
if your not drinking or eating out and thus going out in evenings splurging cash, 350 GBP should be ample for what you have planned, ie walking, visiting outdoors areas...your main expense will be travel and that will come no where near 350 GBP for 5 days.
I did think so, I mean I've gone through a lot of the places recommended here and I had to cut most of them out because of distance and cost, but even the ones I kept are fairly cheap honestly.
Would you or any other like to recommend fun things to do in Reading, Windsor and Oxford as two people or even solo? Friend might be indisposed so I might have a day or two all by my lonesome. Would be nice having a small list of inner-town things to do and see to cover my ass instead of walking alone until I stumble upon something.
You can get anywhere with buses and trains
nationalexpress.com for buses
< Shaftesbury, maybe combine with Salisbury & Stonehenge in one day
Oxford - visit some of the colleges. Most of them will charge a few pounds, so a trick is to get in to go the chapel at Evensong, which you can do for free - and might be interesting in its own right. Others are free but have very limited visiting hours. Check college websites for times, but it's usually around 6pm, most days. Christ Church is the grandest (&the chapel is the cathedral, too), but Magdalen (deer park in its grounds) and New College, and maybe Worcester College and (slightly outside city centre,19th century, very Victorian appearance unlike most of the older college) Keble College might be worth looking at. (if you're visiting out of the short Oxford Uni term time only Christ Church will be having services - so check the websites carefully)
Walk along some of the riverside areas - Christ Church Meadow in the east, Port Meadow in the north.
there are also some historic areas (still almost separate villages inside the Oxford ring road) - Iffley, on the river, is probably the best to visit - the church is 10th century and beautiful, and there are some nice old pubs there too (the Isis Farmhouse, by the lock on the river, probably the most interesting), or Marston, where Oliver Cromwell negotiated the surrender of Oxford int the Civil War.
And walk up into the University Parks, perhaps following the stream and through "Mesopotamia" (entrance from alleyway off Marston Road, by the new Islamic studies centre still under construction)
Art Galleries/Museums - the Pitt Rivers Museum (anthropology) is awesome (and next to the Natural History Museum), the Ashmolean has a lot of interesting things, the Modern Art Gallery is very hit-and-miss, while in a warehouse near the railway station OVADA has interesting displays of contemporary arts. All of these are free,
The two bohemian neighbourhoods are Jericho (near the station) - lots of interesting little houses, largely laid out for workers at univpress in the 19th century,by canal and Port Meadow
That's a shame, I'm sure there's nice scenery around Reading, but Reading itself is moreorless a commuter town for London.
It would be a pity not to at least get a train to Bath for the day.
Also in Oxford - the covered market is definitely worth seeing, and very much the area around the Radcliffe Camera, Bodelian Library and Sheldonian theatre.
Reading - walk along the river, mostly, and cross into Caversham to the north
Windsor - Eton, Windsor Great Park, the old Railway Station (now called Windsor and Eton Central is surprisingly attractive)
Reading definitely the least interesting of the three - maybe walk along the river, and cross over to Caversham. A few historic buildings in the centre, and the university campus is not unattractive.
Well I'm staying around and I am going to Windsor and Oxford guaranteed along with some stops between each for some greenery. Really, we'll consider others when I'm actually there, plans always seem to change a bit once you get to the action.
My gods that a lot of info, thank you! Any interesting shops about? For anything at all, flea or regular markets, charity shops? I'm not looking for insurance or vehicles and I know where to go for clothes (no shortage of that) so I want those "Miscellaneous" shops, y'know? Maybe you can understand what I mean.
Oxford - as I said, the covered market on the High Street is essential, even if just to look at. On certain days (not sure which) there is a market on Gloucester Green. Probably the single most interesting street for shops is Cowley Road, east of the city centre. It's a strange mixture of hipster, student, multicultural, extreme wealth and poverty together.
The only unique thing I can think of in Hungerford is a shop that sells Havana cigars, mostly antique shops there if that's your kind of thing. Reading has a wolf sanctuary but other than that there doesn't seem to be much that any other large town wouldn't have (I live there)
Neither of us drives.
That sounds fantastic, I hope I can find something to bring home or to give me ideas (I do a lot of DIY, things like these are treasure troves in many ways).
DAWH, seriously? Definitely going there. It's a bit difficult because I don't have much info on what I WANT to find, I'm mostly going to explore and relax with a friend as I haven't had a good vacation in years. I'm sure there's many things that would interest me but I haven't a clue.
Which leads me to the question.. where can I find good tourist maps? When I go abroad I like to keep a map about and get lost for a day, just keep walking around and marking down anything and everything that interests me or catches my eye on it.
I meant more like a city map, physical. On a different note, I heard it might snow next week. I'm 29 and I have never seen snow in my life (med country). If might actually cry if I finally get to experience it.
You can get "A-Z" maps (pretty much the best street maps around) pretty easily once you're in England - any branch of WH Smiths or Waterstones should have local to the area you're in. That apart, maybe print off relevant pages of openstreetmap.org (which, for Oxford especially), is much better than google maps