With scores of wonderful villages and towns to choose from, it can be hard to know where to start your home search in Berkshire. Here’s our pick of the county’s best commuter secrets.
Where is it? In the North Wessex Downs, six miles west of Newbury.
The commute: Kintbury has its own train station. Paddington is from an hour and three minutes away, and an annual season ticket costs £5,420.
Plus points: this pretty, unspoiled village has two pubs, a hairdresser, a convenience store, a butchers, a cake shop and pop-up bakers. There are walks along the Kennet & Avon Canal which runs through the village, and the local countryside’s lovely. Kintbury St Mary’s CE Primary School gets a “good” Ofsted rating.
Watch out for: the centre can get traffic-clogged at times.
Property prices: two-bedroom cottages sell for £250,000-£300,000. A modern three-bedroom house is £375,000-£400,000, with a similar-size period house in the village centre at £700,000-plus. You’d need seven figures for a five-bedroom farmhouse or manor house in an acre or two.
WALTHAM ST LAWRENCE
Where is it? This speck of a village is between Twyford and Maidenhead.
The commute: from Maidenhead station, a seven-mile drive away, Paddington is a 41-minute trip. An annual season ticket costs £3,728.
Plus points: Maidenhead is the westernmost stop of the Elizabeth line, which will soon run direct to the West End and City. Semi-rural but accessible, Waltham St Lawrence has some very pretty homes, from timbered cottages to Georgian mansions. The lack of homes for sale shows people stay put. The Bell Inn is a 14th-century pub. Waltham St Lawrence Primary School is rated “good” by Ofsted. White Waltham CofE School is “outstanding”.
Watch out for: light aircraft noise at weekends from nearby White Waltham Airfield.
Property prices: a big country house on the outskirts with land is £2.5 million-£3 million. A nice three-bedroom semi’s about £500,000 or a four-bedroom detached house costs £750,000-£800,000.
Where is it? This affluent spot is beside the Thames, at the cusp of the Chilterns and the North Wessex Downs, seven miles west of Reading.
The commute: Pangbourne to Paddington trains take from 49 mins. An annual season ticket is £5,024. The village is convenient for the M4 but too far away to suffer traffic noise.
Plus points: properties range from small, very pretty cottages to grand manor houses. The shops, cafés and restaurants are good. Kate Middleton attended St Andrew’s School; in the state sector Pangbourne Primary is rated “good” by Ofsted.
Watch out for: heavy rain has caused flooding in the past, making it hard to insure some homes.
House prices: £350,000-£400,000 buys a two-bedroom cottage, with four bedrooms about £750,000. Buy a three-bedroom Victorian semi for £450,000-£500,000. A riverside Victorian pile’s about £2 million.
BEST OF THE REST
This charming-looking village in the heart of the Berkshire downlands, close to The Ridgeway, is a 15-minute drive from Didcot Parkway and its 44-minute Paddington trains. An annual season ticket’s £5,620. There’s a good pub, a well-supported cricket club, and West Ilsley is in the catchment for Ofsted “outstanding” The Downs School in Compton.
The Elizabeth line will run direct from Twyford station to the West End and City. Jon Hallett, director of Winkworth estate agents, says this village strikes a “perfect balance” of rural life and convenience. There are good shops, plenty of restaurants and pubs, countryside on the doorstep, and even a vineyard and brewery. Big by village standards, purists might find Twyford a bit too suburban.
In a lovely country setting and with gorgeous period homes, Maiden’s Green is only a 15-minute drive from Maidenhead for London trains. It’s a great option for horse racing fans since it is only two miles from Ascot. The Winning Post restaurant and pub is the heart of the village. Kate Middleton was often spotted there when she lived locally with her parents.
A hotspot for the high-end polo set, this small village has traditional cottages at its heart — and £10 million new-build trophy mansions about its perimeter. Within a mile are about 15 polo establishments popular with international patrons, particularly Europeans and Russians, who enjoy all the benefits of country living just 45 minutes’ drive away from Harrods. Local pubs are posh — The Cricketers, on the outskirts, has black truffle mac’n’cheese on the menu.