10 pubs in great walking areas close to London
17 May 2019
It’s a well-known fact that being out in the open air can do wonders for your health, and when combined with a relaxing break away, the stress busting properties of being outdoors are multiplied. Don’t let living in London stop you getting out and about, follow in David’s footsteps and try one of his recommendations below all in top notch walking areas and within an easy drive of the Capital. Take your walking boots, pick up a map, explore the local area and then return to a comfortable room with cosseting extras, imaginative menus showcasing locally sourced ingredients, a great drinks list and a very warm welcome. For many more inns within easy reach of the London click here.
With many miles of footpaths and bridleways, plus the Kennet & Avon Canal, the Ridgeway long-distance trail and the Wayfarer’s Walk on the North Hampshire Downs, you will be spoilt for choice at the 17th Century Crown & Garter with its 10 smart chalet-style rooms and own cafe (Honesty) next door. Pick up one of the walking leaflets in the bar and be sure to climb to the top of Inkpen Beacon for the stunning all-round views too.
Following a bracing walk along the South Downs Way, a world of wide skies and distant horizons with the breathtaking views from Ditchling Beacon extending to the North Downs and the Ashdown Forest, hunker down at the 16th-century Bull Inn (just a 15 minute drive from Brighton) with its top food, craft ales, candlelit bars and 6 boutique-style rooms.
In the chocolate box village of Amport in the Pin Hill Brook valley but just minutes from the A303, the Hawk Inn is set in great walking country where there are still many tracts of unspoiled countryside and downland. Walk locally on the many footpaths or head a little further afield to the Test Way or the 24 mile Clarendon Way between Winchester and Salisbury before retiring to the Hawk Inn for great pub food, the lovely riverside garden and the 9 comfortable rooms.
There is a surprising amount of walking in Essex and the Sun Inn (located in the Dedham Vale AONB) with its delicious Italian-inspired food and charming period rooms is a great base from which to experience it. With maps and picnics available in the pub (and bicycles), head east along the Stour into Constable country and walk from East Bergholt to the famous Flatford Mill or west toward Stratford St Mary, Higham and Stoke by Nayland.
The glorious Ashdown Forest with its miles of paths across heathland and through woodland is right on the doorstep of the Cat Inn which stands opposite the parish church in the beautiful rural village setting of West Hoathly. Explore this vast area of attractive heathland and oak and birch woodland including Pooh Bridge and the Five Hundred Acre Wood before retiring to the welcoming Cat Inn and its four cosy bedrooms.
There is great walking literally from the front door at this restored country inn set at a lonely crossroads deep in the wooded Surrey Hills and just a short stroll to the Devil’s Punchbowl and sweeping views of Surrey’s ‘Little Switzerland’. Contemporary rooms, an eclectic modern European menu, a great summer garden and a relaxed vibe await and it is a great base from which to visit Alice Holt Forest too.
The Miller of Mansfield – Goring on Thames, Oxfordshire
Whether it is a gentle amble along the Thames Path or a more invigorating ramble in the Chilterns or Berkshire Downs (both classic walking areas), return to the Miller of Mansfield in the pretty riverside village of Goring-on-Thames, a relaxing modern day coaching inn with 13 funky bedrooms and some sublime cooking.
The South Downs Way lies just south of The Halfway Bridge and the walking trail offers some of the loveliest countryside in Britain, including ancient Weald woodland and rolling farmland. At the Half Way Bridge you will find honest seasonal menus, well-kept ales, rambling old bars and stylish contemporary bedrooms peacefully tucked away in the converted former stable block.
Explore both the North Downs and the Surrey Hills AONB from the 18th century Stag on the River, located in a peaceful spot beside the idly flowing River Wey yet just seconds from the A3 south of Guildford. There’s a fabulous riverside terrace and 7 bedrooms oozing period charm.
The rolling North Hampshire Downs, famous for its horse racing gallops and for being the inspiration for Richard Adams’s classic novel Watership Down is the home of pretty Kingsclere and the Bel and the Dragon, formerly known as the Swan. An hour and a half from London, it’s the perfect weekend bolthole for breezy downland walks and visiting Highclere Castle, the real Downton Abbey, just a 10-minute drive away.
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