Walkies! 11 pretty dog walks with pub pitstops
The sun's out - time to grab the lead and treat Fido to one of these stellar local walks, all with dog-friendly watering holes along the way.
Abingdon Waterways walk
The walk: There are loads of riverside paths around Abingdon, most of which stick to the town centre (ideal if you’re not in the mood for a full-on ramble in wellies), but if you want to make a full day of it, the entire Waterways Walk is around 8 miles. It’ll take you via Ock Valley, Drayton and Sutton Courtenay, and should take around four hours – not including drinks stops, of course.
The pub: There’s plenty to choose from in Abingdon, but you can’t beat The Nag’s Head for riverside dining – after all, how many town centre pubs can claim their own island? It’s a popular spot for dog walkers, so be sure to get in early to nab a spot in the suntrap garden.
Leyline walk from Upton House, Banbury
The walk: Beautiful National Trust site Upton House is your starting point for this circular 8.8km walk. It’s moderately hilly (there are a couple of steep inclines), but the views are worth it – plus, history buffs will love spotting the famous civil war battlefields on the way. The full route will take about 2.5 hours, but you can also peel off about halfway – just as you approach the pub, in fact – to return to Upton House without wearing out Rover too much.
The pub: Where else but The Castle at Edgehill? This spot often makes our lists for best local Sunday lunches – the food is absolutely divine – but it’s also the perfect brief pit-stop for a nibble and a pint (there’s plenty on offer from the nearby Hook Norton Brewery). After all, it’s not often you can sip an Aperol in an actual castle, is it?
Historic Hook Norton walk
The walk: This one is cheating as you’ll actually start out at the pub, but it’ll give you the perfect starting point to enjoy this 7.2km circular amble around the Cotswold village of Hook Norton. This is an easy walk with plenty of field paths, quiet roads and farmland (we recommend leads) – you’ll also pass the old viaducts once used as part of the Banbury and Cheltenham railway system.
The pub: The Sun Inn is a dog-friendly village favourite with a buzzy atmosphere and plenty of cosy nooks and crannies. The menu is elevated comfort food – think black pudding Scotch eggs, Hooky beer-battered fish and chips, pork chop with bubble and squeak and rhubarb custard tart. Yum.
Burnham Beeches circular
The walk: Burnham Beeches National Nature Reserve on the Bucks/Berks border is the perfect stomping ground for you and four-legged family members, as it’s lovely and flat but long enough to stretch your legs at 4.6 miles.
The pub: Unpretentious country boozer The Blackwood Arms marks a handy halfway point if you’re starting out at Farnham Common, and there’s a cute pub garden with views of the woodland.
Caversham Heights to Mapledurham
The walk: This rolling 4-mile circular will take you through the Mapledurham estate, as well as some Insta-worthy Chilterns countryside. You’ll pass through Park Wood and Chazey Wood too (great for wildlife-spotting) and it’s only gently undulating so no need to pack your walking poles.
The pub: The Pack Saddle on the Mapledurham estate is one of the friendliest pubs we know, with a super-local menu and a community garden. Fun fact: they have five colonies of honeybees on site, and they sell their honey at the bar!
Marsh Baldon and Toot Baldon loop
The walk: If the huge village green at Marsh Baldon isn’t big enough for you (it’s a whopping 24 acres – practically a walk in its own right), there’s an easy 8.5km flat loop between the villages of Marsh Baldon and Toot Baldon. There are a few road portions to be mindful of, but the pretty village views more than make up for it.
The pub(s): There are two top picks here, depending on your starting point! Seven Stars at Marsh Baldon is an idyllic spot with a truly excellent pub garden and a tapas menu that’ll great for sharing (if you want to, of course), while The Mole Inn (above) at Toot Baldon is a hidden gem with plenty of foodie creds and a pretty courtyard space. Make the loop to visit both – sounds like a great day out to me!
Port Meadow, Oxford
The walk: This is our favourite walking spot in Oxford for a reason. It’s easy without being boring (great if you’re more of a stroller than a hiker), you’ve got everything from riverside views to wildflower meadows, and there are even a couple of ponies to spot if you’re lucky. There’s a four-mile route around the meadow, or you can extend it to include the river for a six-miler if you want to stretch those legs.
The pub(s): Again, this route takes in two of Muddy’s favourite watering holes: Jacobs Inn in Wolvercote, the perfect spot for grabbing a cocktail and sunning yourself in one of their deck chairs (time it right and you’ll get to watch a little live music too), and The Perch at Binsey, a waterside pub with plenty of green space. Take your pick – your four-legged friends are welcome at both.
Cosgrove and Grand Union Canal Walk
The walk: This easy-peasy 2.5 mile circular over the Northants border can be done in under an hour if you’re speedy – and you don’t stop constantly to watch the canal boats meander by (guilty).
The pub: One of our favourite pub gardens in the county is en route, courtesy of The Navigation Inn on the canalside. Our doggy pals are allowed in the garden and bar areas, so ideal for a quick refresher, but if you want to visit the restaurant proper the pooch will have to stay at home.
Great Barrington to Burford
The walk: This part of the Cotswolds has more dog walks than you can shake a chew toy at, but we’re a fan of the waterside trails in the Windrush Valley – namely, this five-mile stretch from Barrington to Burford, which takes you along the river. It’s not a loop, so you’ll have to hop a bus either at the start or finish, but the valley views are too good to miss.
The pub: Reward your efforts with a slap-up meal at The Angel, Burford, an absolute corker of a gastropub with plenty of award wins to its name. It’s mega cosy if the weather turns nasty, but there’s also a pretty garden if you fancy sipping al fresco.
Great Missenden Circular via Hampden Valley
The walk: This circular loop isn’t one for a quick stroll – it’s just over 7.5 miles, so will take over three hours to complete – but it takes in some of the best countryside the Chilterns have to offer. Time it right and you can spot the bluebells in Coney Bank Wood, a mile outside of Great Missenden.
The pub: As your walk starts and finishes in Great Missenden, where better to sup than The Nags Head in town? Once Roald Dahl’s local, this 15th-century beauty has a brilliant garden, complete with fairy-lit tipi, and a mouth-watering menu you won’t want to ignore.
The walk: This loop is just over 4 miles, and is a perfect way for intermediate walkers and their furry pals to spend a couple of hours as it takes in the picturesque villages of Bledington and Kingham (once voted as ‘England’s Favourite Village’ by Country Life readers, dontcha know).
The pub: You can’t visit Kingham without hitting The Kingham Plough – I’m sorry, they’re just the rules. This classic Cotswold pub has been flying high since its refurb, and we love popping in to take advantage of its seasonal dishes made with the freshest local ingredients (washed down with a large G&T, naturally).
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