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Valentine’s Day in Berkshire: Views, walks and places to visit

PUBLISHED: 10:18 06 February 2018

The view of Whitchurch beside the bridge. Photo: Maureen McLean

The view of Whitchurch beside the bridge. Photo: Maureen McLean

MAUREEN MCLEAN

The beauty of Berkshire comes in many forms. Enjoy everything from breathtaking views and luscious greenery to the glamour of pretty towns and historic sites this Valentine's Day

 

 

Snowdrops

For a glorious, apparently never-ending carpet of these beautiful little plants head to Welford Park, near Newbury, where the display is renowned across the country. It’s thought that the snowdrops were first planted by Norman monks there who used them to decorate their church during Candlemas and also grew them for medicinal use. The latter seems very likely as other plants used in old medicine, such as aconitum, petasites and mistletoe, have all been found close to the woods full of snowdrops.

www.welfordpark.co.uk

 

Windsor & Eton

If you don’t want to step too far off the beaten track (or usually travel in heels rather than wellies) then Windsor and Eton tick all the boxes. History, shopping, pubs, restaurants and hotels, they have the lot, all joined by the bridge crossing the Thames. Plus, of course, some delightful walks in the countryside close to the castle. At this time of year Windsor is less of a tourist trap, so it’s easy to wander the historic streets and take your time browsing in the shops.

Eton offers more traditional treats, including arts and antiques, and a good selection of independent stores. Public access to the college is currently not available due to building works, but the school and chapel architecture are well worth viewing.

Back over the bridge in Windsor town centre you have Daniel department store and Fenwick and Windsor Royal Shopping. The latter surrounds the Victorian train station and is packed with designer outlets and excellent eateries.

And all this before we’ve got anywhere near the castle, which is open throughout the year. See www.royalcollection.org.uk for opening hours and charges. For a little fun with your romance, join a Duck Tour which takes in the town’s historical sights before splashing down into the river to provide some very special views of the castle and Eton, see www.windsorducktours.co.uk.

You might as well make it a romantic weekend in Windsor as there’s a lot to do and see. The Macdonald Windsor Hotel is right opposite the Guildhall, where Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall completed the civil part of their marriage.

www.windsor.gov.uk

 

Pangbourne

We doubt it was a labour of love, but September 2014 saw the reopening of Whitchurch toll bridge over the Thames, linking Berkshire with the Oxfordshire villages across the border in the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The Grade II listed metal structure underwent nearly a year of reconstruction work. Enjoy beautiful walks and scenery and perhaps a pub lunch either in Pangbourne itself, perhaps at the 17th century Swan, with its welcoming open fires, or The Elephant Hotel in the village centre. Take a stroll along Shooters Hill to admire ‘The Seven Deadly Sins’, beautiful Victorian private homes built by DH Evans, the West End store founder, where according to local rumour he housed a batch of mistresses!

www.pangbourne-on-thames.com

 

Beale Park

They’ve had a nice little break from our prying eyes, but the animals at Beale Park near Pangbourne will be emerging in the glimmers of spring, and we all know what that means. The park re-opens on 8 February 2018. It’s perfect if you have little ones tagging along, and a delightful spot for a gentle walk as you view the deer park, or catch the birds, monkeys or meerkats smooching.

www.bealepark.co.uk

 

Cliveden

Of course there’s the infamous hint of scandal here, courtesy of the 1960s Profumo Affair, but the majestic country house hotel and beautiful National Trust grounds have a lot more to offer than that. The Romantic Indulgence package is £325 per person and includes overnight accommodation, full English breakfast, rose petals and candles, House Champagne, chocolate dipped strawberries and more. The impressive formal gardens burst into colour as the spring displays come into flower and there are drifts of snowdrops, daffodils and bluebells as well.

A post shared by Alex Olivier (@alexolivieruk) on

www.clivedenhouse.co.uk

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