13 lovely Autumn pub walks
Sunny, crisp days and 50 shades of autumn colour palette. It's the best time for a seasonal stroll before collapsing in front of a cosy fire with wine. Here's Muddy's favourite pub walks.
Autumn is the time to walk – there’s the crackle of leaves underfoot, the air is fresh but not frozen and the darkness of winter is yet to fully set in. Follow it with a pint in a cosy pub and you’ve got yourself a perfect day out. Here are our pick of 12 pubs with great walks nearby.
1/ Cliveden National Trust, Taplow
THE WALK: There’s a mahoosive 376 acres to explore, but you can do as little or as much as you like. Stroll through the formal gardens, stomp through the woodland and hang out with Duke of Sutherland and, if you’re super-keen, hike down to the river. Just brace yourself for the uphill climb. Advance booking is essential.
PUBBY PITSTOP: Not a pub, but a super-cool foodie hangout, The Astor Grill serves crowd-pleasing burgers, grilled lobster and steak in Lord Astor’s old stable block. Expect gastropub prices, there’s a kids and dog menu. So basically everyone’s welcome. For more traditional pub vibes, take the three-mile drive to Taplow village and pull up a pew at The Oak & Saw.
2/ Cookham and Cock Marsh Walk (6km)
THE WALK: It’s a pick and mix of beautiful Berkshire countryside, Cock Marsh is a biological Site of Special Scientific Interest, so no shortage of wildlife. A moderate four-mile circular strut, the trail takes approximately two hours, and it’s not the faint-hearted. The route takes in churches, the river, past Bronze Age burial mounds, along a wooden boardwalk and you’ll get cracking views of Cliveden. It can be a bit muddy, and is steep in places, but it’s a corker. View the walk here.
PUBBY PITSTOP: After 2 hours of countryside stomping, you’ll have definitely worked up an appetite for a pub lunch. You’re spoilt for choice in the Cookham: The Muddy fave is The White Oak, an laidback gastropub serving exceptional food – plus kids and well-behaved pooches are welcome. Alternatively, make a beeline for Bel & the Dragon and The Old Swan Uppers.
3/ Long Walk and Copper Horse, Windsor (6km)
THE WALK: Enter Windsor Great Park through Cambridge Gate and walk along the formal avenue of the Long Walk up to the iconic Copper Horse on Snow Hill. Take in the impressive views of Windsor Castle, the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world, and watch out for the free range deer. If you fancy combining it with a mooch around the Queen’s gaff, Princess Beatrice’s ‘something borrowed’ Norman Hartnell dress goes on display on 24 Sep and the East Terrace Garden has opened to the public for the first time in decades.
PUBBY PITSTOP: Once you have taken in enough fresh air and scenery, head to Bel and the Dragon on Thames Street. Situated in the shadow of the castle, this historic pub has three cosy rooms with beams and an open fire, serving real ales, a good choice of wines and tasty food suitable for all the family. Alternatively, The Giggling Squid is also a Muddy fave and if you’re after something speedy, walk over the bridge to Flaming Cow for dirty burgers and hot wings.
4/ Donnington Castle, Newbury (5.8km)
THE WALK: A medieval castle perched on a hill overlooking the Lambourn Valley should get even the most reluctant walkers to put one foot in front of the other. This circular stomp takes in Snelsmore Common, woodland and the castle ruins (a bigger player in the Civil War) and there’s no chance of getting lost, simply follow the path. It’s suitable for all but you might struggle with a pushchair. View the walk here.
PUBBY PITSTOP: Hop in the car and head to Chef Dominic Robinson’s The Blackbird in Bagnor – an unpretentious one Michelin star gastropub. It’s currently serving pizza in the garden but the main restaurant is due to re-open very soon.
5/ Bray Lake, Bray nr Maidenhead (2.5km)
THE WALK: It’s so easy, you can whip around without breaking a sweat. What this gentle 2.5km stroll around the edge of Bray Lake lacks in length, it makes up for in views. One of the prettiest spots in Berkshire, the path hugs the edge of the tree-lined water, home to Bray Lake Watersports. During the wet months, wellies are a must as it can get a bit muddy. But the outlook never gets old View walk here. For the more adventurous, there are some lovely looping walks around Bray, Maidenhead and Windsor.
PUBBY PITSTOP: Did someone say lunch? Hot foot it into Bray village and you’re spoilt for choice. Heston’s Michelin Star gastropub The Hind’s Head is a great place for a cocktail and a snack in the upstairs Royal Lounge, or settle in for the main event. Alternatively keep it casual at The Crown – a 16th century inn serving quality pub classics in the garden.
6/ Maidenhead Thicket (2.5km)
THE WALK: A couple of miles west of Maidenhead’s urban sprawl is Maidenhead Thicket. The Thicket offers varied walking routes throughout the seasons with wildflowers popping up in spring. There are around 8km of footpaths through broadleaf woodland, rides and tree-lined avenues – a regular haunt for highwaymen – so the perfect place to run wild, den-build and bug hunt. View the walks here.
PUBBY PITSTOP: How does a 16th century inn where Dick Turpin propped up the bar with his knee-high boot wearing gang of villains., grab you? The Golden Ball in Pinkneys Green is a fantastic pub with all the cosy vibes you hanker after an autumnal amble – great food, foxy wine list and stylish decor.
7/ Basildon Park National Trust, Lower Basildon (0.5-5km)
THE WALK: Lovingly restored by Lord and Lady Iliffe, Basildon Park is an architectural TV and film star (spot its appearances in Pride & Prejudice, Downton Abbey, Dorian Gray and Marie Antoinette) where kids can safely run free range in its 400 acres. There are four walks ranging from 0.5 to 3 miles with a couple of hills and muddy patches. The two shorter routes are suitable for pushchairs, taking 20-40 minutes, while the stretchy 3-miler around the estate’s boundary takes approximately 2 hours. View walk here.
PUBBY PITSTOP: Basildon Park is less than two miles from The Swan in Pangbourne – a stunning 17th century pub (with literary links galore) that does unpretentious but stylishly presented food and a fab Sunday roast. There’s a modest riverside terrace that’s about as close to the river as you can get without getting wet, with views to die for. Inside there’s a a large bar and restaurant with nooks and crannies to hunker down in front of a fire for pints and crisps. Dog’s are welcome outside or in a special woofer snug.
8/ Dinton Pastures Country Park, Hurst (3.2km)
A 400-acre site, that has something for everyone. Want to get competitive? Test your ability to use a compass and a map on the 30-point Orienteering Course or hit the many trails and run. If your pace is more of a saunter than speedy, there are easy trails that take in the lake, play park and green spaces that perfectly suited to littlies and are pushchair and wheel-chair friendly. View the walks here.
PUBBY PITSTOP: The Cellar Bar at Stanlake Park Wine Estate. OK, so it’s not a pub, but it’s a knockout spot for a light lunch –think charcuterie and cheese and pickles while tasting the local vino (they serve soft drinks and beer too). It’s heavenly. If it’s a pub or nothing, then make your way to The Walter Arms (just 1.5miles away in Sindlesham) which has a good rep for food..
8/ Stanford Dingley, Nr Newbury (6.4km)
Stanford Dingley and its surrounding meadows and woodland are what escaping to the countryside is all about. An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, you can celebrate the seasons and there’s half a chance you’ll bump into a dog-walking Cambridge or Middleton. This moderate 4-mile stomp is a two-hour belter with some steep sections, a couple of hills and some muddy, uneven ground, but there are a few shortcuts if you want to bail out early. A colourful walk to see the seasons change that’s particularly lovely in spring. View walk here.
PUBBY PITSTOP: You pass not one but three inns on this route – it’s practically a pub crawl. The Old Boot has all the ingredients of a good country pub: roaring fires, sleeping dogs and an enormous garden. They’ve just put up tents for winter to create a really special outside restaurant. You’ll also find The Bull in Stanford Dingley and The Pot Kiln in Frilsham.
9/ Reading Circular River Walk (3.5km)
THE WALK: Starting at Reading Bridge (above), this route takes you on a tour of the town’s prettiest spots, including King’s Meadow and Blake’s Lock, past the Abbey Ruins and Forbury Gardens. Best of all, it shouldn’t take you more than an hour. Route here.
PUBBY PITSTOP: Swerve all the town centre big chains and head to The Bel and The Dragon in the old biscuit factory at Blake’s Lock. The food’s very good and there’s something to entice the pickiest eaters. Alternatively, Veeno is an absolute gem – Italian wines, pizza and sharing boards. I’ll be here if you need me,
10/ Newbury Canal Path (6km)
Once the main trading route between Bristol and London, Newbury’s canal offers a great towpath walk with lots to see. Start at Newbury Wharf and head east to Widmead Lock. Bear left to enter the Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre. Budding ornithologists (that’s bird watchers to you and me), can keep your eyes peeled for common terns, house martins, swallows and swifts over the lake. View the walk here.
PUBBY PITSTOP: You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to Muddy Award winning pubs in Newbury. The Globe is a must visit (once it reopens at the end of the Sep) – the most dog friendly place EVER and they have Muddy’s award-winner Colline’s Kitchen providing the food. A couple of doors down is the cracking gastropub The Newbury pub and Muddy best bar The Dolphin is also a solid choice for a pitstop.
11/ Finchampstead Ridges, Wokingham (3.5km)
THE WALK: Finchampstead Ridges, nestled in southern Berkshire, has been in the National Trust family for over 100 years. Head to Simon’s Wood and walk the avenue of redwood Sequoia trees (also known as Wellingtonia trees), planted in 1863, see if you can spot the second century Roman Road, nicknamed the Devil’s Highway and Heat’s Pond is a pretty spot at this time of the year – view the trails here.
PUBBY PITSTOP: No shortage of local pubs, but for pure rustic charm and a fab pub food, head to The Tally Ho in Eversley. Yes it’s a smidge over the border in Hants, but the stylish decor and lovely pub garden make it a must stop. The Dog and Duck in Emmbrook is a bit of drive, but another crowd-pleasing menu, great with kids and there’s a chichi garden.
12/ Shottesbrook Parkland, White Waltham (12km)
THE WALK: For the super-keen there is a 7-mile circular stomp, taking you through Shottesbrook Parkland, that will test your physical and mental stamina (view the walk here). The good news (ahem) is that you can bail out and take a number of short cuts to hasten your entrance to the pub.
PUBBY PITSTOP: It depends when hunger strikes, but try and time your your lunch break to perfection so that you take a load off at The Beehive in White Waltham. It’s one of the best gastropub’s in the UK and Chef Dominic Chapman’s food id to die for. If you’re starving when you get to Waltham St Lawrence, The Bell is a good option offering a short, seasonal menu, specialising in game and a root to tip appreciation of fresh produce.
13/ Hurley to Marlow River Walk (2.5km)
A daily dose of wellbeing in one walk. The riverside path from Hurley to Marlow and back is an easy peasy stroll that delivers birds, wildlife and a spectacular river view with trees hanging over the water, and boats moored along the bank. Start at Hurley Lock and head along the path to Marlow Bridge. Then turn around and head back to where you started. View the walk here.
PUBBY PITSTOP: With the Olde Bell closed for refurbishment, the only Hurley pub open is The Rising Sun. It’s a proper local that the villagers adore. You’ll get decent pub grub here and they offer a kids menu too. For something a bit swish, head up the hill to Hurley House, which is fabulous foodie destination big on British produce and seasonality. Booking is essential so plan ahead.