If you have been following our posts it should be no secret to you that Harriet and I like to have a drink on our walks should the opportunity arise.
Pub stops have become a staple part of our journeys. As well as providing respite and refreshment, it is always interesting to observe the individual character of each one and appreciate its surroundings whilst enjoying a drink.
We have complied a list of our top 10 favourite pubs we have visited whilst walking. It also won’t surprise you that all of them are next to water. I cannot emphasis how difficult it was to chose only 10. We have eaten and drank at so many great establishments.
In ascending order…
10. The Barge Inn
Location: Honeystreet, Wiltshire
Walk: Devizes to Hungerford
Recently under new management when we visited, the excellent canal-side location of The Barge Inn on the Kennet & Avon Canal was made even more enjoyable by the quirky selection of extra-terrestrial and paranormal-themed beers and ales on sale including one that was bright green!
9. The Dundas Arms
Location: Kintbury, Berkshire
Walk: Hungerford to Thatcham
Also right on the Kennet & Avon canal in the beautiful Berkshire village of Kintbury is the Dundas Arms, named after former chairman of the Kennet and Avon Canal Company Charles Dundas. We enjoyed a great selection of drinks in their suntrap beer garden right next to the water.
8. The Jolly Sailor
Location: Outside Saltford, near Bath
Walk: Bristol to Bath, Part 1
Situated right on the banks of the River Avon, the Jolly Sailor boasted some of the best scenery we have observed from a beer garden. Surrounded by locks, stunning weirs and the small village of Kelston Mills across the water, we enjoyed our drinks while watch herons fishing in the water.
7. The Cross Guns
Location: Avoncliff, Wiltshire
Walk: Bath to Bradford-on-Avon
From the Cross Guns, not only can you enjoy the Kennet & Avon Canal, but also the majestic Avoncliff Aqueduct, the rushing River Avon and the views down the valley in both directions. A truly beautiful spot. Secluded and special.
6. The White Hart
Location: Ford, Wiltshire
Walk: Castle Combe Circular
Nestled in the small town of Ford in the Cotswolds with the By Brook running through its beer garden, The White Hart is a beautiful old building with one of the most enjoyable beers gardens we can remember.
5. The Queens Head
Location: Near Brosmgrove, Worcestershire
Walk: Droitwich Spa to Hopwood (coming soon!)
Operated by the Lovely Pub company, the up-market Queen’s Head on the Worcester and Birmingham Canal is well worth the extra money for its amazing water-side seating and spacious modern interior.
4. The Boot
Location: Lapworth, Warwickshire
Walk: Hockley Heath to Stratford-Upon-Avon
Also operated by the Lovely Pub Company and located right next to the impressive lock flight at Lapworth on the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal, The Boot makes forth position. Extremely similar in character to The Queens Head above, it just had the edge with Lapworth Locks nearby and a Teepee you can hire!
3. The Canalside Café
Location: Gas Street Basin, Birmingham
Walk: Hopwood to Birmingham & Warwick to Birmingham (both coming soon!)
Don’t let the name fool you; this place is most definitely a pub with an excellent selection of beers and lagers from local microbreweries. Located at the recently rejuvenated transport heritage site Gas Street Basin in central Birmingham, The Canalside Café is the smallest pub in the entire city. You could sit here for hours looking at the reflections in the water, the boats and the buildings. A spot of tranquillity in one of the busiest cities in the country.
2. The Anchor Inn
Location: Tintern, Wye Valley
Walk: Tintern Circular
Run from an old mill building, The Anchor Inn at Tintern is just metres away from Tintern Abbey and also the River Wye which winds it’s way up this beautiful valley marking the border between England and Wales. It’s location, its surroundings and its excellent food earn The Anchor our penultimate spot in the list.
1. The Saracens Head
Location: Symonds Yat (East), Wye Valley
Walk: Symonds Yat Circular & Symonds Yat and Monmouth Circular (coming soon!)
Perhaps inevitably, our number one spot is given to our favourite pub of all time. Popular with walkers, canoers, climbers and people of pretty much any outdoor pursuit, Symonds Yat (East) is a tiny and serene village on the banks of the Wye, further up the valley than the Anchor above. The first time I ever went to this pub I was 10 years old. My mother took me there for a day trip and I remember sitting on the benches outside as a restless 10 year old, usually completely disinterested in nature and the outdoors, and feeling that I was in a very special place. 16 years later, Harriet and I do not have a place we would rather spend a spare day. Putting aside the fact that this place is very close to my heart, The Saracens Head gets the top spot for its absolutely outstanding food, colourful history (it still operates a hand-ferry across the Wye) and an unparalleled location which is no less than stunning.
We wish no disservice to any pub we have not featured in our list. There have been so many memorable ones but, in the end, there had to be a best 10.
This list is obviously subject to change as we visit more places. This time next year the revised Top 10 will follow, assuming these 10 haven’t retained their places.
Hope you enjoyed reading.
Keep exploring and, for God’s sake, have a drink while you at it!
Adam & Harriet