Visit Pangbourne: Places to stay, things to do

Get some welcome relief from the hustle and bustle by visiting this picturesque corner of Berkshire. Nick Peers feels his senses lift as he escapes to some green space


Image: © Copyright Pam Brophy and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
Why go there
The Thames is England’s greatest river, and Pangbourne is just one of many picturesque stops on the mighty Thames Path trail, which wends its way upstream from the Thames Barrier in Greenwich to the river’s source in the Cotswolds.
Pangbourne is situated 5 miles upstream of Reading on the Berkshire side of the Thames, and is directly opposite a smaller, less developed village on the northern Oxfordshire bank, Whitchurch-on-Thames. The two are connected via Whitchurch Toll Bridge, which is famous for being exempt from taxes on its toll charges. Thankfully pedestrians and cyclists aren’t charged for crossing the river, so there’s nothing stopping you nipping across to Whitchurch during your stay.
Whitchurch lies on the south-western edge of the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, while Pangbourne itself has a couple of attractions worth checking out nearby. There’s the Wildlife Trust reserve at Moor Copse, which boasts 140 acres of varied habitat, including meadow and wet woodland copses. National Trust members might also fancy a trip to Basildon Park, an impressive Georgian mansion and park rescued from dilapidation in the 1950s, which has just reopened after the winter.
Where to stay
Weir View offers luxurious bed and breakfast accommodation from £75 per room per night, and is situated on the banks of the Thames with – you guessed it – a view of Pangbourne Weir.
Where to eat
If you want no-nonsense pub food with a bistro menu, then the Ferryboat’s recent inclusion in the Good Pub Guide may tempt you across the river into Whitchurch. If you’d prefer to stay in Pangbourne, The Elephant offers both a bistro (locally sourced) in its pub area and fine dining in a separate restaurant for more expensive tastes.
Tell us a local secret
EH Shepherd’s famous illustrations for The Wind in the Willows are said to have been inspired by the countryside surrounding Pangbourne. The book’s author, Kenneth Grahame, retired to Church Cottage in the village, where he lived out the rest of his days.