When taking personality tests, a common question that comes up is this: do you prefer city life or country living? It’s a difficult question – for me at least. There are aspects to both that I adore. Cities are full of excitement and allow for a certain anonymity that being part of a large crowd brings. For a while growing up, I wanted so badly to move to a big city and lead one of those intriguing lives that you see in movies.
Our most recent trip to England, though, may have changed all that. The main purpose of the trip was to tour Highclere Castle. My other goal, however, was to find the most quintessentially British towns as possible. Ones that weren’t written about in blogs or travel guides (although I guess I’m ruining that now). And I do believe that we were successful.
We undertook this adventure on one of the days that we were staying in Reading, a relatively large town about an hour outside of London. We’d seen what Reading had to offer and wanted to explore further outside of town. I found a Great Western Railway Network map online, googled pictures of the ten nearest stops, and picked the most promising ones. We got our tickets and were off early in the morning.
I’ll be completely honest – there aren’t many major attractions in or near these villages that you’ll be able to get to without a car. It is worth your time, though, to get out and walk around, enjoy some tea, and sit by the Thames in these charming British towns.
Something about Pangbourne and the people there really jumped out at me in the short time that we walked around. There are some cute hotels, shops, and cafes as well as lovely scenes by the river. We popped into a cafe to get something warm to drink and ended up talking to the girl behind the counter for a while. Everyone in the town was just so friendly.
Here are some of the beautiful sights of Pangbourne to look out for (as well as a couple of Whitchurch-on-Thames, the village right across the river):
Goring & Streatley
At this point, we were hungry and in need of more than just tea. After blindly wandering from the train station into the town, we found a cafe, and once again ended up talking to the people there, all while enjoying some soup and sandwiches. Once again, this village was more picturesque than I feel like was physically possible for me to capture.
Fun (kind-of-not-fun) fact about Goring: George Michael died there. We didn’t know that until we stumbled upon the house itself, which was obviously a place of homage for hundreds of George Michael fans over the past two years.
We didn’t go to Newbury on this particular day, but we did stay there before our visit to Highclere and it’s worth mentioning in this list of charming British villages. It’s bigger than the other places on this list, but it’s is a perfectly nice place to stroll around. There’s great shopping and even better places to stay and eat.