It's well worth having your own wheels: some of these country lanes are a sight to behold. The area is popular with weekending Londoners, though, so roads can be busy on Friday and Sunday afternoons.
The nearest airport is Heathrow, roughly 45 minutes' drive from Goring. RailAir coaches link Heathrow to Reading station (www.railair.com). Gatwick is about an hour away by car. The Gatwick Express (www.gatwickexpress.com) departs every 20 minutes for London Victoria, which has easy connections to Berkshire stations.
From London Waterloo, there are frequent services to Windsor and Reading; Reading also has national links to Edinburgh, Swansea, Oxford and Bristol, among others. Paddington station also offers good connections with Berkshire stations.
Country code for the UK: 44.
Although he hardly enjoyed his experience of Berkshire, Oscar Wilde's The Ballad of Reading Gaol is an ironic, and yet captivating, choice. In Jerome K Jerome's entertaining Three Men in a Boat, the titular trio travel the Thames; Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows encapsulates the English dream of riverside life.
Do go / Don't Go
June, July and August are the best months for British weather but, frankly, we've often found that a fresh spring morning or a crisp, cold autumn or winter's day is the best way to enjoy southern England's countryside delights.
From fine dining in fashionable surroundings to trencherman lunches in oak-beamed pubs, this part of the world is a hive of culinary activity. The village of Bray in particular has amassed more than its fair share of Michelin accolades, with a brace of three-star eateries. Heston Blumenthal's restaurant, the Fat Duck (01628 580333), is on the High Street - or try his Tudor gastropub, the Hinds Head (+44 (0)1628 626151), across the road. Beside the river on Bray's Ferry Street, Alain Roux heads up the Waterside Inn (+44 (0)1628 620691), which also enjoys treble-star status. However, this is a part of the world where traditional Sunday lunches of roast beef still hold sway; venture into a cosy pub to sample the best.
Some of the smaller towns have limited taxi services. Your best bet is to get your hotel to sort out there-and-back drop-offs and pick-ups.
A service charge is normally added to restaurant bills; if not, then ten to fifteen per cent is appreciated.
Maps, for exploring on foot and in the car. Although stout boots and waterproofs are useful if you fancy a hike along the local nature trails, it's also worth ensuring that you're suitably smartly togged if you plan to dine fine in one of the larger towns' surprisingly swish bars and restaurants.
Windsor Castle (www.royal.gov.uk), the oldest continuously occupied castle in the world, is the area's biggest tourist attraction, and rightly so, given its impressive size and condition. Queeny likes nothing more than the hoi polloi strutting about her 1,000-year-old heritage of a weekend so do pay her a visit.
On the way to your destination, take a detour off the M4 to see the White Horse at Uffington on the Berkshire Downs. This elegant, if somewhat anorexic, prehistoric hillside carving is best viewed from a distance; somewhere along the road from Shrivenham to Faringdon is your ideal spot.
The enormous Oracle shopping centre in Reading town centre (www.theoracle.com) caters for every high-street hankering, but there are sweeter retail rewards to be found elsewhere. Windsor's shops are pointedly refined and classic, nowhere more so than in the Windsor Royal Shopping centre, with its purse-melting gamut of Brompton-esque boutiques (www.windsorroyalshopping.co.uk). For antiques and artsy-crafty stuff, head to smaller villages such as Aldermaston or Tadley (technically in Hampshire); for antiquarian books and Roadshow-worthy antiques, Eton's half-mile High Street can't be beaten.
There's dozens of spots to choose, from but it's hard to beat the Long Walk, which runs south from Windsor Castle for three miles up to the statue of George III atop Snow Hill. If you're lucky, you might see one of the famous herds of deer wandering casually across this dead-straight royal thoroughfare.
The view of the Goring Gap from the top of Streatley Hill is inspiring. Brace yourself for the climb, or take the car, and stop off on the way back for a beer at the Bull (+44 (0)1491 872392).
April The ancient Hocktide Festival in Hungerford features Wicker Man-style street dancing, ale tasting and all sorts of mediaeval goings-on (www.visitwestberkshire.org.uk). June Royal Ascot is one of the highlights of the social calendar where people wearing silly hats get as much attention as the racehorses - well, on Ladies' Day at any rate (www.ascot.co.uk). See our European events guide Smith 52 for more details, or buy the book for the full insider lowdown. August International rock bands and hordes of people who haven't washed for three days congregate at Reading Festival (www.readingfestival.com).