Our Favourite Unspoilt Pubs in Town & Country
Genuinely unspoilt and unchanging pubs run by dedicated landlords and landladies can be found all over Britain and we’re pleased to share with you our cream of the crop. Blacksmiths Arms, Cumbria The simple, white-rendered frontage of this former farmhouse recalls its past as a basic beer house then a working inn, farm and smithy,…
Genuinely unspoilt and unchanging pubs run by dedicated landlords and landladies can be found all over Britain and we’re pleased to share with you our cream of the crop.
The simple, white-rendered frontage of this former farmhouse recalls its past as a basic beer house then a working inn, farm and smithy, and its interior is little changed since those days, with original oak beams in three of its four rooms, local slate floors and the original farmhouse range. It’s considered historically significant, and poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge is recorded as having supped a pint here, but the Blacksmiths wears its status lightly, with a relaxed, friendly atmosphere and warm, experienced innkeepers. Three real ales such as Barngates Cracker, Cross Bay Halo and a local guest on handpump, a Cumbrian pilsner from Tirril, nine wines by the glass, 11 malt whiskies and summer farm ciderThe surrounding countryside is lovely and walks are peaceful.
With its thatched roof, half-timbered exterior and blazing open fire, this timeless and unpretentious old pub is the perfect antidote to the modern tedium of the dreary M6. The bar has heavy oak beams dating from Stuart times, attractively moulded black panelling, prints of Cheshire on the walls, latticed windows and uneven wobbly old tables. Banks’s Sunbeam, Jennings Cocker Hoop and Sneck Lifter, Marstons Saddle Tank and Wainwright and a guest beer on handpump and eight wines by the glass served by genuinely friendly staff.
This traditional pub, ideal for exploring the many pleasures of the Peak District, evolved from several stone cottages. In the same family for many years, it’s set in a beautiful steep stone village and is named after an unbeatable racehorse of the early 18th c. A snug little right-hand bar is the best place to enjoy your Bombardier and guests from breweries such as Abbeydale, Castle Rock and Matlock Wolds Farm on handpump, and several wines by the glass. The surrounding walks are marvellous and both walkers and their dogs are warmly welcomed; they keep doggie treats behind the bar. Now that there is no longer a village shop, the pub does sell some produce.
The same family has run this fascinating and hospitable pub for more than a century. The local area’s famously diverse geological history is celebrated in the pub’s (free) fossil museum, the outside furniture is made of local stone and there’s even a summer stone-carving competition in honour of the many chisel-wielders who come searching for treasure in the locality. Regulars Hattie Browns HBA and Moonlite are on handpump and a couple of quickly changing guests, such as Hattie Browns Kirrin Island or Dog on the Roof and Trumans Zephyr, are tapped from the cask. This is the place to come for the taste of West Country orchards: up to ten farm ciders (such as Kiss Me Kate, Sat Down BeCider) are passed through the two serving hatches to customers in the drinking corridor; also, 20 malt whiskies.
With gaslit bar rooms that have panelling and painted roughcast walls hung with china plates and royalist photographs, this old-fashioned flint and brick pub has plenty of charm. Adnams Ghost Ship, Woodfordes Wherry and a guest on handpump and 20 wines by the glass served through a hatch by friendly staff.
Newcomers and regular visitors all love this place because it seems completely untouched by time. Seven real ales are tapped from the cask, including Bath Gem, Butcombe Bitter, Exmoor Ale, Palmers IPA, St Austell Tribute and a quickly changing guest; also several wines by the glass and four local ciders. The small and rather local-feeling room on the right, with a stone floor and cross beams, has a big log fire in a large stone fireplace and steps that lead up to another seating area. The Mendip morris men visit in summer and some of the best walking on the Mendips is nearby. There isn’t a pub sign outside, but no one seems to have a problem finding the place.
Known locally as the Low House, this time-capsule of a pub has been little altered during the 400 years of its existence and still serves its ales direct from the cask. There’s no bar counter: the helpful staff potter in and out of a cellar tap bar to pour your pints of Adnams, Earl Soham Victoria, Green Jack Golden Best and whatever other ales they choose to stock. (This is a free house, owned for the community by a small group of residents.) You can get other drinks too, including eight or so wines by the glass and a good few malt whiskies and gins. They hold regular events such as morris and molly dancing, classic car days, speciality food nights, beer festivals, plays in the garden and music and art shows.
You need to be in the know to track down this tucked-away and unspoilt little spot, it’s a real refuge from the modern city nearby. There’s been a tavern on this site since 1546, although the current building dates from 1782. The cosy small rooms have lots of dark panelling as well as antique settles and old local pictures. It gets good-naturedly packed with the City suited-and-booted between 12.30pm and 2.15pm, filling up again in the early evening, but in the early afternoons and by around 8pm it’s a good deal more tranquil. Fullers London Pride, Olivers Island and Seafarers with regular guests such as Adnams Broadside and Caledonian Deuchars IPA on handpump, plus eight farm ciders and 13 wines by the glass.