Outdoor Reading rediscovered

Many visitors to Reading are surprised by how green the city and its surroundings are and how much space it boasts to enjoy - from walking lovely stretches of the Thames to a picnic in the town centre's Forbury Gardens or a visit to the gorgeous University of Reading Harris Garden. Reading is also ringed by beautiful countryside - perfectly located for great walking and cycling in the Chilterns or exploring surrounding villages such as Sonning or Bucklebury.


Sweepof the Thames IndentWebReading was founded at the confluence of the rivers Thames and Kennet and both play an important part in enjoying the city today. Reading has the longest stretch of Thames river frontage of any local authority area in the country. The Thames Path goes right through the centre of Reading with meadows and weirs, boats and even river swimming. Thames River Cruise offer trips from the heart of Reading and you can also start a waterways holiday from Reading with Caversham Boat Services. The Kennet bisects the city centre and provides riverside outdoor dining at the Oracle shopping centre, lovely backdrops to Reading Abbey, locks and mooring for canal boats. Caversham Lakes has a new Aqua Park (pictured below) and family beach as well as open water swimming and SUP hire. 

Outdoor attractions

AquaParkBeale Park Wildlife Park and Gardens is just six miles west of Reading on the banks of the Thames. with 147 species , it is a favourite family attraction. For 12 April 2021, they have new attractions and animal experiences.  Close by is the National Trust's Basildon Park where the parklands have reopened to the public. In Reading town centre, the Abbey Quarter is open every day and in 2021 celebrates 900 years since the founding of the Abbey by Henry I. Look out for Reading's new Banksy nearby. The MERL's garden and outdoor cafe are also open again.

Visit our Things to do in summer 2021 page>>


Caversham Court StairwayAt the heart of the city centre, Victorian pleasure gardens Forbury Gardens is an oasis of tranquility with views of the Abbey Ruins. The monks dormitory in the Abbey Ruins itself is a mellow space to explore Reading’s medieval history or just picnic. On opposite banks of the Thames, Kings Meadow and Christchurch Meadows are large open spaces for relaxing, sport and enjoying river views. A short distance up river, Caversham Court Gardens is a historic garden which runs down to the banks of the Thames. It hosts open-air theatre, cinema and other cultural events. Just beyond the confluence of the two rivers to the east of the city centre, Thames Valley Park is a vast popular picnic and exercise space on the river banks with its own nature reserve.   

Green University  

small whiteknightslakeThe University of Reading boasts one of the most beautiful campuses in the country. Explore the 321 acres of the Whiteknights Campus, an award-winning green space, with the great Whiteknights Lake bordered by rich deciduous woods and home to many different animal species, verdant meadows, woodlands and the beautiful Harris Garden, an ideal place for rest and reflection. The University's free to visit Museum of English Rural Life celebrates rural Britain and has a lovely garden to explore.  



HayandPoppiesaboveGoringJune2020AB croppedReading is ringed by beautiful countryside and villages. Some, like Sonning are an easy walk along the Thames from the town centre to the east. Cyclists love the rolling hills and tea rooms of the Chilterns to the north of Reading, while walkers and kayakers head for Goring and Streatley to the west where the Thames has carved a channel between the North Wessex Downs and the Chilterns. To the south, some of the best-preserved Roman town defences in England, and remains of the amphitheatre still stand at Silchester


Outdoor sports

KennetCanoeladydogJune2020AB croppedCycling, walking and many watersports are very popular in Reading. Sustrans cycle routes 4,5 and 23 go through Reading, you can cycle along the Kennet and Avon canal towpath, there are also great circular routes to the north and south of Reading. The Thames Path national trail and the Great West Way go through the heart of Reading.  Reading is home to a number of rowing clubs – come during the summer to enjoy the spectacle of one of the regattas on the Thames. You can hire canoes from Wokingham Waterside Centre or Thames Canoe Hire. Sailing is on offer at Reading Sailing Club at Sonning or on the lakes of Dinton Pastures  Reading is a running town. Its famous half marathon attracts 15,000 competitors every year, while every Saturday you can choose from a number of venues to take part in a Park Run.

Green work places

Green Park 22If you work on one of Reading’s business parks, you’ll appreciate the green spaces that house them. Green Park is an award-winning green campus with lakes for rowing, bootcamps for  fitness fans and a pride in its natural environment and well-being programme. Arlington Business Park is built around lakes too and Thames Valley Business Park overlooks meadows the Thames a short bike ride to the east of the city centre.


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