1. Goring Gap and the Thames Path
Length: 5 miles
Start: Goring & Streatley station (trains from London Paddington)
End: Pangbourne (trains to London Paddington)
If you’re in the mood for a gentle rural amble, this stretch of the 184-mile Thames Path is far from boring. It starts in the pretty Oxfordshire village of Goring, where the Thames Valley is squeezed to its narrowest point by the Berkshire Downs and tree-blanketed Chilterns. The footpath (waymarked with acorn symbols) follows the curve of the river as it flows south, winding past wildflower meadows, woods and the Hartslock Nature Reserve, which is home to red kites and rare orchids.
Post-walk pub: Pangbourne’s picturesque seventeenth-century inn The Swan (Shooters Hill, RG8 7DU) serves gastro grub these days. Bag a table on the riverside terrace or keep toasty by one of its open fires.