Step Out Somewhere New: Reading

We all know we should take regular rests from our laptops and get moving, between building our empires. Luckily our locations have plenty to see on a break from our screens.

You might’ve read our Workplace with Soul blog last year, an area-guide with our favourite spots to eat, drink, sleep (okay maybe not sleep) near to our Reading space. But now it’s time to tuck into our Workplace with Sole, our carefully-selected walking spots, all on Reading Work.Life’s doorstep.

Forbury Gardens

A popular place to lounge, sunbathe or just take a turn, Forbury Gardens is conveniently set just behind our Reading office. Dominated by the famous Maiwand Lion statue to commemorate soldiers from the Berkshire Regiment who died in the Battle of Maiwand, the gardens are a well-maintained focal point for the town. It’s often a location for community events and food festivals but also has peaceful spots to rest and revive – including a kiosk for refreshments.

Abbey Ruins

Adjacent to Forbury Gardens is the recently-restored Abbey Ruins – once a magnificent Royal abbey in medieval times. The 900-year-old remains were re-opened to the public last summer after extensive restoration and are a historically fascinating place to explore, stretch the legs or just chill out. The Abbey Ruins and Gateway – both Grade I listed buildings and Scheduled Ancient Monuments – have handy information panels dotted around so you can nourish your mind during your stroll as well as your body.

River Kennet/Thames

Reading is blessed with being nestled on the confluence of the rivers Thames and Kennet. And that means plenty of idyllic walking routes – some via pubs. Join the Thames Path heading to Sonning, just a minute or two’s walk from Work.Life, which will take you past pubs including the Fisherman’s Cottage and Bel & The Dragon. You could also pop in to the Riverside Museum at Blake’s Lock. Feeling adventurous? Invest an hour walking to Sonning Lock and get the bus back after a soporific lunch at the nearby Coppa Club.

Christchurch Meadows

This is an expansive stretch of recreational grassland that runs between Reading Bridge and Caversham Bridge. Stretched for time? Explore the area on the Reading Bridge side, which is a short skip behind Forbury Gardens. Or power walk towards Thames Promenade in Caversham where panoramic views across the river uplift the soul.

Caversham Court Gardens

If you’ve made it to Thames Promenade, don’t miss out on this Green Flag and Green Heritage award-winning park on the opposite bank. The walled garden with terraced lawns tumbling down to the river is popular with picknickers in the summer. It also hosts outdoor events including open air theatre and cinema. And perfect timing if you visit soon – the tea kiosk re-opens this month (Mar). Need a respite if working the weekend? The garden offers tours every first Sunday from April-September.

Harris Arcade

If discovering award-winning independent retailers is your preferred mode of rejuvenation, wander around this nonagenarian mini-mall. Stock up on craft beer, ale, cider and cheese at The Grumpy Goat, feel loved at the welcoming Crunch Comics for all your graphic novel needs, lose track of time rummaging around the memorabilia at The Collectors Centre and bag yourself some classic vinyl at The Sound Machine. The eclectic arcade also contains a tailor, tobacconist, vintage retailer, cafés, tattooist and milliner.

Smelly Alley

An open sewer used to run down here in the 16th century, a fishmongers used to help maintain the nickname of this potent alleyway (real name Union Street), But don’t let that put you off having a nosey. Discover award-winning independent stores including Eclectic Games and the enduring Quantum Web Café (set up in 1999, it claims to be the longest-running internet café in the UK). Running between Friar Street and Broad Street, this is a lesser-chosen area for lunchtime wanderings, but well worth a visit.

Food Markets

Hunger usually prompts a break from your desk but eschew the usual high street outlets for something made in front of you by a passionate street food trader.

Explore the Blue Collar street food market every Wednesday (run by Work.Life Reading’s very own Glen Dinning), or Chow, which showcases different food stalls on Fridays. If you work on weekends, be inspired to make an early start by kicking off your Saturday gathering goodies at Reading Farmers’ Market – 8.30am-noon every first and third Saturday.