Winter warming pub walks
Brrrr it is cold outside! Fancy some fresh air and a winter warming pub lunch? Here are a few faves.
Happy New Year! While you pop a couple of paracetamol, here’s a selection of cosy pubs with nearby walks to help you survive the day. Some fresh air and the promise of winter warming grub might just numb the hangover for a few hours at least.
The Pheasant, Lambourn
In the heart of National Hunt country there are plenty of walks across the North Wessex Downs. A designated area of outstanding natural beauty, you’ll find plenty of ancient woodlands and open downloads to yomp across in area ideal walking, with a wide range of routes for all ability levels. Just make sure you are within striking distance of The Pheasant. A characterful country pub, with quirky touches and a fantastic rep for unfussy, fabulous British food using local, seasonal ingredients.
The Pheasant, Ermin St, Shefford Woodlands, Hungerford RG17 7AA. Tel: 01488 648 284
Bel and the Dragon Cookham
If you’re up for a whopper, head over to Cookham, park in the National Trust car park and head out across open countryside, a golf course, fields and woodland, up to Winter Hill via Cookham Dean. Take in the views over the Thames before descending to finish with a stroll along a popular stretch of the Thames towpath and back into Bookham. It’s take over 3 hours, but the good news is you can reward yourself with a leisurely scoff and quaff at The Bel & the Dragon.The food’s fab, the vibes are relaxed and the kids are welcomed with open arms.
Bel & The Dragon, High Street, Cookham Berkshire SL6 9SQ
The Oak and Saw, Taplow
Well, you’re 3 miles from Cliveden, so you can do as little or as much as you like. Stroll through the formal gardens, stomp through the woods and for you’re super keen hike down to the river. Just brace yourself for the uphill climb. Ready for some top pub grub? The Oak & Saw is just a few miles away in the village of Taplow (home to the late Terry Wogan). Cosy vibes, pub classics (the steaks and roasts are legendary) and a village green view. There, there… that’s better.
Oak & Saw, Rectory Rd, Taplow, Maidenhead SL6 0ET. Tel: 01628 604074
Bel and the Dragon, Windsor
Enter Windsor Great Park through Cambridge Gate and walk along the formal avenue of the Long Walk. Take in the impressive views of Windsor Castle, the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world, and watch out for the deer. 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.
Bel & The Dragon, Thames Street, 1 Datchet Road, Windsor Berkshire SL4 1QB. Tel: 01753 866056. belandthedragon-windsor.co.uk
The Beehive, White Waltham
For the super-keen there is a 6-mile circular walk, taking you through Shottesbrook parkland, that will test your physical and mental stamina post NYE. The good news (ahem), you can bail out and take a number of short cuts to hasten your entrance to The Beehive. A fab gastropub, sink into the leather chairs and enjoy the great food.
The Beehive, Waltham Rd, White Waltham, Maidenhead SL6 3SH
The Crown, Bray
If you are really struggling, pop down to the river’s edge for a gentle stroll down to Bray lock. For the more adventurous, there are some lovely looping walks around Bray, Maidenhead and Windsor. Then hot foot it to The Crown – a 16th century low-beamed inn serving wonderful British food (no surprises there given that Heston Blumenthal is the owner) beside an open fire. The Crown is the perfect Sunday stop – a relaxed atmosphere with an emphasis on great food and a well stocked bar.
The Crown at Bray, High St, Bray, Maidenhead SL6 2AH
Royal Oak, Yattendon
Pack your wellies, peeps, because the circular walks around the Royal Oak in Yattendon tend to be a bit muddy. There’s a family friendly loop that starts at the Village Hall and brings you out at the back of St Paul and St Peter’s church. If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous (or slightly less hungover) there is a circular walk that takes you over to Frilsham and through the woodland, before bringing you back to the roaring fire and cosy loveliness of The Royal Oak. The West Berkshire Brewery is within staggering distance and you’ll find several varieties here, plus a good wine list and a good food. Children and dogs are welcome with a garden to let the Mudders run wild while you have one more for the road.
The Royal Oak, The Square, Yattendon RG18 0UG
Dundas Arms, Kintbury
You’re spoilt for choice for good walks with the priddy Kennet & Avon towpath right on the doorstep and the slightly more challenging Ridgeway nearby. More importantly the Dundas Arms is the perfect destination when you are feeling a little fuzzy. Spend a lazy afternoon messing about by the river before sinking into a winged chair by the log fire and enjoy good gastropub food – think beer battered cod and triple cooked chips to a proper Sunday roast.
The Dundas Arms, 53 Station Rd, Kintbury, Hungerford RG17 9UT
The Bull, Sonning
Stroll around the village, taking the picturesque St Andrew’s church and Thames towpath, before taking up residency in The Bull in Sonning. A pretty 16th Century inn near the river, this old-fashioned pub has cosy alcoves, leather chairs and sofas, low ceilings and roaring fires. Expect a proper pub menu with a modern twist.
The Bull Inn, Sonning-on-Thames, High St, Sonning, Reading RG4 6UP
The White Oak, Cookham
Another great pub to visit following a momentary pause to stagger about by the river and take in the idyllic loveliness of Cookham village. The White Oak (awarded the Michelin Bib Gourmand for 6 consecutive years, no less) balances the art of being a welcoming local and foodie destination. So if you like your New Year’s Day lunch with a side order of WOW, then pull up a chair in this modern British pub. The food is stunning and worthy of a special occasion, so think refined rather than rustic.
White Oak Cookham, The Pound, Cookham, Maidenhead SL6 9QE
The Bladebone, Bucklebury
There are a number of circular walks that kick off from The Bladebone in Bucklebury – ranging from 4 to 7 miles. The shortest takes you fro Bucklebury Common north circuit, through woodland and common ground. The longest takes in Frilsham and Stanford Dingley through woods and lush meadows on either side of the Pang Valley. Book a table at buzzy The Bladebone and reward yourself with a pint and 3-course blow out. Thrust me, you’ll have earned it.
The Bladebone, Chapel Row, Reading RG7 6PD Tel: 0118 971 4000
The Golden Ball, Pinkneys Green
Pinkneys Green is perfect for a dog walk with a number of long and short circuits through National Trust land – the hay meadows are particularly pretty and there’s 5 miles of footpaths to explore through Maidenhead Thicket. If you like to take a more leisurely approach, just pull up a chair at The Golden Ball and people watch your way through New Year’s Day. Great food, lovely decor and a double dose of ‘ahhhh that’s better’.
The Golden Ball, Pinkneys Green, Maidenhead, SL6 6NW. Tel: 01628 580 212.