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The best things to do in Newbury

Discover cosy pubs, canalside walks and grand castles in this beautiful Berkshire town

Donnington Castle, Newbury, Berkshire
Photograph: Alamy
By Katie Gregory |
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Newbury is always reinventing itself. From ancient wool hub to grain-trading hotbed, the town has morphed its way through the centuries – and it’s still doing it in 2020. Between grand houses and endless listed buildings, now you’ll find up-and-coming indie restaurants, a market that champions emerging designer-makers and buzzy pubs serving a young crowd. And then there’s the star attraction for fans of a certain period drama: a nineteenth-century country house with a thoroughly modern-day following.

RECOMMENDED: The best day trips from London 

A perfect day in Newbury

Newbury canal
Photograph: Sterling Images

Drink this

The Lock Stock & Barrel is pulled up so close to the canal that you can sit pint in hand with your legs dangling over the water. For cosy log fires and real ales, head to The Royal Oak at Yattendon – the beer hails from West Berkshire Brewery down the road.

Buy this

Time your visit right and you’ll be in town for Newbury Artisan Market, your go-to for local foods, vintage finds and original art. It’s usually on the last Sunday of the month.

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Newbury Canal
Photograph: Tom Gowanlock/Shutterstock.com

See this

Brush up on Newbury’s backstory at West Berkshire Museum – it’s free and housed in the beautiful seventeenth-century Cloth Hall and granary. Afterwards, stop for a cup of loose-leaf darjeeling at Teashop by the Canal, with views of barges and Victoria Park.

Eat this

For posh nosh without the pretence, try Henry & Joe’s – the set-lunch menu is as gourmet as it gets, but the place has a low-key bistro vibe and is easy on the bank balance. For dreamy pizzas and creamy gelato head to Lusso, or grab a lunch box from The Sushi Maki for salmon sashimi to go.

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Photograph: Shutterstock

Explore this

Highclere Castle is just a 15-minute drive from the centre of town. Whether or not you’ve binge-watched ‘Downton Abbey’, this extravagant country house – home to the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon – is well worth a nosy. Visit in winter to swerve the crowds of megafans on a special guided tour.

Photograph: Shutterstock

If you only do one thing

Take a walk. The medieval ruins of Donnington Castle are surrounded by gorgeous countryside. You can amble here in 40 minutes, and it makes an unbeatable picnic spot. Or, follow the Kennet & Avon Canal to Thatcham’s Nature Discovery Centre for peace, quiet and loads of wildlife.

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The Vineyard hotel
Photograph: The Vineyard Hotel

And if you stay the night, wake up here

There’s no actual vineyard at this glossy hotel. Instead, everything, from the decor to the spa treatments, revolves around the contents of its impressive 30,000-bottle wine cellar. Relax with a red-grape body massage, sit down to a boozy, seven-course tasting menu with paired wines, then slink back to your vino-tinted room – some are decked out in deep burgundy tones, others are champagne-hued. We’ll pray to the god of wine that you don’t have to go to work the next day. From £215 a night.

Where next?

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