10 Autumn walks with pubs
Is there anything better than a beautiful Autumnal walk that ends in a pub lunch? Stroll and scoff your way across Bucks & Oxon.
The clocks may have gone back but there’s plenty of day time left for a crisp Autumn walk – followed, of course, with a pint or lunch in a cosy pub! Here’s my pick of 10 pubs with great walks nearby, but clearly it’s just a start as there are soooooo many. Feel free to add your recommendations in the comment box below – the more the merrier.
The Mole Inn, Toot Baldon
This attractive stone country inn, only five miles south of Oxford but in full countryside, offers high standard gastro fare, with an emphasis on local provenance. There’s a neat landscaped dog-friendly garden terrace, and a lovely walk that takes you from St Lawrence’s church across fields, a stream and a mostly flat walk.
Falkland Arms, Great Tew
Just about the prettiest pub you’ll find in North Oxfordshire, The Falkland Arms is straight out of Richard Curtis middle England casting with its thatched roof, warm Cotswold stone and inglenook fireplaces. There are gazillions of pretty walks – just mooching between Great Tew, Little Tew and Ledwell, skirting Great Tew Park is a pleasure in itself, and you can always rubber neck the Beckhams’ new home down the road towards Soho Farmhouse if you still have energy to burn.
The Full Moon Pub, Cholesbury, Hawridge
This recently-renovated pub is all leafy Chilterns loveliness – there’s even a Victorian windmill 50 metres away! Walk past the Iron Age hill fort nearby (one of the most replete in the area) on a route that will take between 2.5-5miles depending on how much you’re dreaming of roast beef, Yorkshire puds and a robust red to wash it all down with.
The Baskerville, Lower Shiplake
Plenty of plaudits for this excellent gastro pub near Henley in South Oxon. It’s on the more expensive side for a family meal, but you can’t question the quality. I came here a few weeks back, having parked in the public car park by the River & Rowing museum in Henley, and followed the river past the Lock to the frankly god-smacking houses that lead to the pub – a 45 minute meander I’d say. There’s a chugger train line close by if little legs don’t want to try a return journey but the views back into Henley, with the church in the distance, are undeniably lovely and there’s a huge children’s park as an incentive at the end.
The Old Swan, Minster Lovell
This pub, set within a boutique hotel and bang on the Windrush River into the Cotswolds, is in a stunning location. Heavily beamed, traditional and atmospheric in the restaurant, with lovely outside grounds for sunny days, this a short walk from the 15th century ruins of Minster Lovell Hall (english-heritage.org.uk). You can wander further along the river, before crossing to Crawley, and heading back again on the far side.
Fox and Hounds, Christmas Common
The Fox & Hounds nestles in Christmas Common, a stunning spot high in the Chilterns above Watlington in South Oxfordshire. The pub is an attractive mix of unpretentious local (think slightly pokey pint-and-crisp area) and gastro-eatery in the revamped restaurant area. You’re spoilt for choice up here, with Cowleaze Woods nearby (amazing for bluebells in spring) and the National Trust-owned Lower Deans Woods just minutes from the door which I can personally recommend, as I walk it all the time. A lovely easy flat 45 minute lope before heading back to the pub for sustenance.
Castle at Edgehill, Banbury
Ooh an actual castle! Perched atop a hill (as castles tend to be, ahem) this restaurant, hotel and country pub has views of the fields where the Battle of Edgehill took place in 1642. Literally on the doorstep of The Castle is a one-hour Civil War Walk if you fancy a ramble or a pre-arranged guided tour of the Battlefield Trail through the woodlands and pretty village of Radway to see where the battle took place.
The Nags Head, Great Missenden
An excellent pit stop in Roald Dahl’s home village, with a lovely large garden to the rear that backs onto the local cricket ground. The interior is attractive if slightly lacking in character, but there’s no doubting the quality of the food. You’re spoilt for choice for walks here – little ones might enjoy a stroll through the village seeing The Red Pump Garage petrol station (the inspo for the garage in Danny, The Champion of the World), the library where Matilda spent her time while her mum was playing bingo in Aylesbury, or Angling Spring wood which gave Dahl the idea for of Fantastic Mr Fox. There are various circular walks that take in the Misborne Valley, and slightly further afield Coombe Hill and it’s spectacular views. Options too for pubs – it’s also worth trying the homely charms of The Cross Keys in the middle of the High St.
The Crooked Billet, Stoke Row
Some of the prettiest countryside in South Oxfordshire wraps itself around this lovely gem of a pub. Its claim to fame is as a former Dick Turpin hang out and in the Nineties as the bangers-and-mash venue for Kate Winslet’s wedding to Jim whatshisname – today it’s still massively successful locally with its higgledy piggledy charms and fantastic gastro fare. There’s an intriguing 5 mile walk from Stoke’s Row to Maharajah’s Well, literally an Indian well given to the village by the Maharajah of Benares in 1863 as a gift.
The Bull and Butcher, Turville
The holy village triumvirate of Skimett, Fingest and Turville are so goddam pretty and create a stunning, if rather hilly 3.5 mile walk on a bright day. The Cobstone Windmill, which featured in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang sits high and proud in Turville (though be warned – it’s now privately owned and you can’t go nosing too close) and you’ll also recognise the village as the setting for The Vicar of Dibley. The Bull & Butcher won’t win any high end gastro prizes but for a lovely position and a warm welcome you’ll be happy you came.
Want more pub options? Your wish is my command! Check out my Fun Finder for the best pubs across the Muddy counties.