Basildon House
Basildon House
Essentially a rural county despite its close proximity to the sprawl of Greater London, Berkshire is famed for its close ties with the British Monarchy. In fact, the county is known as "Royal Berkshire", due primarily to the presence within its borders of Windsor Castle.

A further royal connection in Berkshire is provided by Ascot, near Windsor, where the annual Ascot races in mid-June provide a shining setting for royals and high society to see and be seen.

The River Thames flows through Berkshire, and the river helps provide much of the county's character, though today Berkshire is also known as Britain's "Silicon Valley" due to the number of high-tech firms in the area.

To the south of the Thames the land rises in a series of chalk downs. Across those downs runs the Ridgeway Path, the ancient trackway which led early Britons from Wessex towards East Anglia. A more modern route through Berkshire is the recently re-opened Kennet and Avon Canal, which is an excellent venue for relaxing narrowboat holidays.

Scattered throughout Berkshire are leafy, lightly travelled lanes leading to delightful villages like Cookham, Sonning, and Hurley.

Most visitors to Berkshire come for the grand attraction of Windsor Castle, home to Britain's monarchs for over 900 years, though lately the allure of Windsor has a rival attraction in nearby Legoland.

Windsor offers more to visitors than the famous castle, however. Within Windsor Great Park are two superb gardens, the Valley Garden and the very popular Savill Garden.