Marianna Hunt

Picturesque pubs for a post-lockdown pint

Picturesque pubs for a post-lockdown pint
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There are few finer pleasures than sitting by a river or canal in summer – cold drink in hand. With the bitter winter weather on its way out and pub gardens given the green light to reopen from April 12, a balmy few months of al fresco drinking and dining are now upon us.

Here are the seven best pub gardens around the UK to book now.

The Sun Inn, Essex

With bunting strung up and marquees and deck chairs spilling across the lawn, the garden at The Sun Inn has the charming feel of a village fete. The pub sits in Dedham, in the heart of Constable Country on the Essex Suffolk border. A village church spire peeps over the garden hedge.

The outdoor bar is open for drinks Friday to Sunday from April 16, 12pm until 6pm. Bar snacks, such as handmade sausage rolls, will be available to buy and visitors are also welcome to bring their own picnics. A £1 per head service charge will apply.

There’s also a gravel pit where you can play boules.

The Black Rabbit, West Sussex

This riverside pub has its own jetty, framed by weeping willows, where pleasure boats moor up in summer. The outdoor picnic benches have sweeping views over some wetlands to Arundel Castle, which dates back to 1068.

The historic building has been a pub for centuries and for many years was owned by the Duke of Norfolk’s family. There are wild swimming spots nearby, although the current is extremely fast so be careful.

The Black Rabbit reopened on April 14, with an open-sided marquee outside to shelter diners. The garden menu has options to suit most diets, from a vegan aubergine katsu curry to a steak pie with beer gravy. On Sundays they do meat and vegetarian roasts.

The Boat Inn, Monmouthshire

Sitting along a popular kayak route on the River Wye, The Boat Inn has a charming terraced garden that leads up to a waterfall. There are excellent swimming spots nearby and you may even spot a kingfisher or dipper.

While the pub itself is in Wales, the village of Redbrook on the opposite bank is over the border in England. Tables look out over the hulking Penallt Viaduct, whose old railway tracks have been converted into a crossing point for cyclists and hikers.

The pub does simple but satisfying food, such as jacket potatoes and a whole baked Camembert with crusty bread.

Send the children over to the park on the opposite side of the river (in England) to play and grab an ice cream at the village shop.

The Head of the River, Oxford

The waterside garden at the Head of the River is the closest you can find to the finish line of Oxford’s famous Summer Eights regatta. This year racing will take place from Tuesday 8 to Friday 11 June.

Even on a non-regatta day, there are still plenty of opportunities for boat spotting.

The pub is owned by the Fuller’s Brewery and has most of its best loved ales and ciders on tap. It also does bar snacks, such as chorizo scotch eggs and halloumi fries, as well as hearty meals including steak and chips and veggie lasagne. Mains start from £10.75.

The terrace has the feeling of a Victorian dockyard, with an enormous crane and pieces of ironmongery scattered about. Make sure to follow up lunch with a wander round Christchurch Meadows.

The Old Mill, The New Forest

Situated on the edge of boating town Lymington, this newly refurbished riverside pub boasts a covered and heated waterfront terrace that can seat over 200 and a mouth-watering menu. Sit and sip your pint while the river winds its way by. The pub also features an art walk in the garden so you can enjoy a stroll between drinks.


The Hollybush, Oxfordshire

The courtyard of this independent gastropub has been turned into its own model village, with wooden Wendy houses dotted around. The huts are fully-insulated from the fickle British weather and surprisingly roomy, with space for up to 10 diners. They have been decked out with lovingly crafted furniture and original art. As darkness falls the outdoor area is lit up by streams of fairy lights.

The pub sits in a butter-coloured stone building in Witney, the gateway to the Cotswolds. Many of the beers are brewed locally in Hook Norton and Charlbury. The menu could be described as “pub grub with a high-end twist” and features specialities such as pie with clotted cream mash and sea trout with herb emulsion. Mains cost from about £15.

The Red Lion, Wiltshire

Al fresco diners at this Michelin-starred freehouse in Pewsey look out over the kitchen garden from which much of their meal is sourced. West Berkshire pigs and rescue hens – who also provide meat and eggs for the kitchen – often roam around and children can ogle at the unusual vegetables in the greenhouse.

The pub is housed inside a thatched cottage and has a welcoming farmhouse-feel, with friendly service. Husband and wife team Guy and Brittany make the most of the superb suppliers nearby, with local delicacies such as roast Wiltshire beef chateaubriand and Bath Blue cheese on the menu. There’s a brook nearby to paddle in and miles of walking routes in nearby Salisbury Plain to explore.