Stroll and scoff: 11 Autumn walks with pubs
Is there anything better than a beautiful walk that ends in a pub lunch? Here's my starter for 10 across Bucks & Oxon.
The sun may have gone in, 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 11 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.
The Trout Inn, Wolvercote
With fantastic views of the river, al fresco dining and popular with Inspector Morse to boot, The Trout is perfectly placed for a ramble around Oxford’s beautiful Port Meadow. You’ll be walking 3.5 miles if you’re going one way, 7 miles if you’re attempting the circular route, which means you’ll have worked up enough of a healthy appetite to tackle one of the pub’s six Sunday lunch options.
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’ home down the road towards Soho Farmhouse if you still have energy to burn.
The Five Horseshoes, Maidensgrove
With the Chilterns on your doorstep, you’re spoilt for choice when striking out from the Henley village of Maidensgrove. You can tackle the full circular walk between Ewelme and Ibstone at a whopping 18 miles (brave!), or stick to one of the shorter circulars in the area that range from 8 to 9.75 miles. Either way, hit The Five Horseshoes to sink into a comfy chair by the fireplace and enjoy a well-deserved libation.
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. You can wander further along the river, before crossing to Crawley, and heading back again on the far side.
The Black Boy, Oving
Fun fact about The Black Boy in the rural idyll of Oving, Aylesbury: it’s where they shot the original Hovis ad (now you know!). The far-reaching views from the newly-revamped garden are so good that you almost don’t need to go exploring, but if you’re in a mind to stretch your legs then Waddesdon with its myriad walks is less than a 10-minute drive away.
The Cross Keys, Great Missenden
An excellent pit stop in Roald Dahl’s home village, The Cross Keys is a charming, simple pub with a reputation for great 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.
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 Stag and Huntsman, Hambleden
This circular 5-miler starts and ends in the pretty village of Hambleden, taking you through the hamlet of Pheasant’s Hill and along Hambleden Brook – a particularly gorgeous part of the Chilterns to explore on a sunny day. Seeing as the walk practically deposits you in The Stag and Huntsman‘s car park, it would be rude not to pop in for a drink or two, wouldn’t it? Bring four-legged family members along for the ride – this is a classic countryside pub, and thus very dog-friendly.
The Feathered Nest, Nether Westcote
For Cotswolds boltholes, you can’t go far wrong with Michelin-recommended The Feathered Nest, in the picture-postcard village of Nether Westcote. A step up from your standard country pub, The Feathered Nest is well-loved by locals, so you’ll need to be quick to nab a table. The views of the Evenlode Valley are also fabulous, and walks in the area include a moderate 6.25 mile circular through Westcote and Icomb, which takes you through no fewer than four Cotswold villages.