Winter warming pub walks
Happy New Year! Perhaps I should say it with a little less enthusiasm but I am excited to be starting 2017 as the new editor of Muddy Berks. There are no New Year’s resolutions, I’ll have given up them before the end of Jan. But the slate is wiped clean, it’s a new beginning. So let’s start as we mean to go on.
While you pop a couple of paracetamol, here’s a selection of rural pubs with nearby walks to help you survive the day. Some fresh air and the promise of Sunday lunch might just numb the hangover for a few hours at least.
Two Brewers, 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 Two Brewer’s on Park Street. Situated in the shadow of the castle, this traditional pub has three cosy rooms with beams and an open fire, serving real ales, a good choice of wines and good food. Although dogs are welcome, the downside is children are not allowed inside. For somewhere more family-friendly, head over to the Henry VI in Eton for stone-baked pizzas and loads of premium gins.
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.
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.
Pot Kiln, Frilsham
Pack your wellies, peeps, because the circular walk around the Pot Kiln, taking in the village of Frilsham and surrounding woodland, can get pretty boggy at this time of the year. The walk rewards you with a delicious lunch at celebrity chef Mike Robinson’s Pot Kiln pub. This red-bricked country dining pub specialising in game. The West Berkshire Brewery is within staggering distance and you’ll find four varieties here, plus a decent wine list. Children and dogs are welcome with a garden to let the Mudders run wild while you have one more for the road.
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 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.
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. Visit The White Oak and you’ll discover a pub that balances the art of being a welcoming local and foodie destination. So if you like your Sunday 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.