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Guide to Reading

Situated in the county town of Royal Berkshire, Reading is an ideal base for visiting the Thames Valley.

About half-way between London and Oxford, it developed near the meeting of the rivers Thames and Kennet, the main transport routes through the ancient woodland which covered most of Southern England. Both rivers are navigable and a variety of boats are available for hire in Reading.

The restored Kennet and Avon Canal offers a route for narrow boats to the west; larger boats can follow the Thames at least as far as Osney; and smaller craft can take the Thames west to Lechlade or the Oxford canal north to the Midlands. In summer there are also passenger boat services to Mapledurham or Henley, home of the famous Regatta.

At Blakes Lock, near the mouth of the Kennet and Avon Canal, there is a very interesting Waterways Museum. For those who prefer to keep to dry land, the towpaths along the Thames and Kennet provide easy walking conditions and quick access to the countryside, with King’s Meadow, Hill’s Meadow and the Thamesside Promenade providing particularly pleasant walks. A long distance footpath, The Ridgeway, is nearby.

There are numerous attractions in Reading itself, including the Abbey ruins, which are the burial place of King Henry 1; the Museum and Art Gallery, which has a copy of the Bayeux Tapestry; and the Hexagon Theatre. The Rivermead Sports Centre is the venue for the famous Reading Rock Festivals and south of the town centre is the Majedski Stadium, home of Reading Football Club. Reading University was awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in 1998 and 2005. With around 3,000 students from 120 countries it adds considerably to the town’s multi-cultural environment.

The mecca for shopping enthusiasts is The Oracle, which has 90 shops, including a John Lewis department store. From national trails and beautiful unspoilt stretches of river, to some of the best shopping and dining experiences in the country, Reading has a lot to offer.

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