There are hundreds of historic pubs alongside the inland waterways of the UK, that offer perfect spots for canal boat holiday-makers to moor up, relax and enjoy some great food and drink.
In fact, many who enjoy a narrowboat staycation say that visiting canalside pubs is one of the best things about a holiday afloat on Britain’s beautiful inland waterways!
You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to charming canalside pubs and restaurants. So, to celebrate the start of the 2022 canal boat holiday season, we’ve put together a guide to our Top 11:
The Barge Inn at Seend – this beautiful pub on the Kennet & Avon Canal in Wiltshire has a large waterside beer garden offers classic pub favourites, including great Sunday roasts. The Barge Inn is next to Seend Lock no.18. It takes around seven hours to reach this pub from our canal boat hire base at Bath. The journey travels 17 miles, through 4 locks and passes over the magnificent Bath stone aqueducts at Dundas and Avoncliff.
The Bay Horse at Snaygill – on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal near Skipton, this popular country pub dates back to 1822. It’s a Vintage Inn serving country pub classics and cask ales. From our boat yard at Silsden, it takes just under three hours to reach The Bay Horse.
The Crown Inn at Alvechurch – this country pub on the Worcestershire & Birmingham Canal close to the village of Alvechurch offers great food and drink, rustic charm and a lovely pub garden. The Crown Inn is just three miles from our boat yard at Tardebigge. Just an hour and a half away, it’s a good first night stopping point when heading towards Birmingham.
The Bridge Inn at Chirk Bank – also known as the last pub in England, this traditional pub on the Llangollen Canal in the village of Chirk Bank offers visitors fantastic views of Chirk Aqueduct. The Bridge Inn is just a two-and-a half hour cruise from our canal boat rental base at Trevor so it’s a great place to stop on the first night of your canal boat holiday, if you are heading to Ellesmere or beyond.
The Blue Lias at Stockton – this historic pub on the Grand Union Canal at Stockton in Warwickshire is well known for its great beer and canalside garden. It was named after the limestone and clay quarried locally. This is derived from material laid down in the early Jurassic seas, when dinosaurs roamed the earth. The Blue Lias is less than a mile away from our canal boat hire base at Stockton, but you need to go through eight locks, so it takes around one hour and forty minutes to cruise there.
The Fleur De Lys at Lowsonford – this pretty 17th century country pub in the Warwickshire village of Lowsonford is famous for its pies and beer garden on the banks of the Stratford Canal. Choose from eleven different types of pie, accompanied by seasonal vegetables, chunky chips and gravy. The Fleur De Lys just over three hours from our narrow boat centre at Wootton Wawen.
The Nag’s Head in Abingdon – this award-winning pub on the River Thames offers drinkers and diners a peaceful retreat in its riverside gardens. The Nag’s Head serves gourmet cuisine and wood fired pizzas. It takes around five hours to reach the Nag’s Head from canal barge base on the Thames at Oxford. Along the way, you’ll travel 15 miles, passing through six locks.
The Horse & Jockey at Grindley Brook – this family owned pub on the Llangollen Canal at the bottom of Grindley Brook Locks near Whitchurch offers great food, drink and service. It takes around four and a half hours to reach The Horse & Jockey from our canal boat rental base at Whixall Marina. The journey travels seven miles and passes through five locks.
The Plume of Feathers at Barlaston – this popular pub on the Trent & Mersey Canal in Staffordshire is part-owned by the actor, Neil Morrissey. Sample some of Neil’s beers and ales, and choose from a menu of homemade dishes made from fresh local ingredients. It takes just over seven hours to reach The Plume of Feathers from our Great Haywood base. The journey travels 12 miles through the Staffordshire countryside, passing through 12 locks and the town of Stone.
The Olde Barbridge Inn near Nantwich – this historic pub on the Shropshire Union Canal sells local ales brewed at its own local brewery and serves classic British food made with local produce. The Olde Barbridge Inn is an hour’s cruise from our narrow boat hire base at Bunbury.
The Cross Guns at Avoncliff – this 17th century Wiltshire inn has riverside pub gardens with panoramic views of the foothills of the Cotswolds. It’s next to the Kennet & Avon Canal’s beautiful Bath stone Avoncliff Aqueduct. The Cross Guns serves a selection of British pub favourite food, local ales, cider and craft beer and it’s less than an hour away from our narrow boat hire base at Monkton Combe.
Wonderful canalside pubs worth a visit during any narrowboat holiday
One of the joys of any holiday is whiling away languid hours in the sun with a beer, glass of wine or whatever is your preferred tipple – and canal boat holidays are no exception. Luckily the historic waterways of England and Wales – once main transport thoroughfares – are dotted with welcoming pubs, many of which used to cater for the canal workers of bygone years as they travelled up and down transporting coal and other materials to fuel the industrial revolution. Now of course they cater to a more pleasure-seeking crowd, including those fortunate enough to be enjoying a narrowboat holiday. There are literally dozens of charming pubs where you can stop on your canal trip, but here we list just some of our favourites:
Nearest Anglo Welsh canal boat bases: Bath and Monkton Combe
This 16th century inn overlooking a picture perfect stretch of the Kennet and Avon Canal as it snakes its way through a green Cotswold valley is the stuff pub dreams are made of. Stop off enroute to the historic market town of Bradford-upon-Avon and enjoy a refreshing pint in their canalside garden which has lots of outdoor seating meaning you can find space even in the height of summer.
Nearest Anglo Welsh canal boat bases: Great Haywood
A lovely traditional Staffordshire pub located at the heart of the idyllic Churnet Valley next to the rushing water of a weir. Sitting in the pub garden, watching the narrowboats floating past and steam trains coming and going on the Churnet Valley Railway Line surrounded by the green valley sides, you could be forgiven for thinking you’d been transported back 100 years in time.
Nearest Anglo Welsh canal boat bases: Wootton Wawen and Tardebigge
This 17th century pub, with its own onsite brew house, has a snug rustic interior where you can warm up while sipping one of their delicious ciders or ales or in summer sit in the canalside garden and admire the gorgeous Warwickshire countryside that surrounds you.
This tiny historic pub, which also runs a camping site, has been run by the same family for more than 100 years. It still boasts the same tables and settles that were in situ when the family took over, with beer often brought up in a jug from the cellar to this day. The multi-award-winning pub was recently given heritage status for its historic importance.
Nearest Anglo Welsh canal boat bases: Bath and Monkton Combe
Located in a beautiful 12th century stone building that was originally a monastery, the George Inn has been carefully refurbished by Chef and Brewer to create a stylish welcoming interior with open fires keeping things cosy in winter. Once the sun is shining, enjoy some canalside al fresco beers or sit in the sheltered sun trap of a courtyard.
Nearest Anglo Welsh canal boat bases: Great Haywood
This 18th century pub, located on the famous Fradley junction of two key canals with a ye olde world charm, offers good beer, fine wine and proper pub grub. It is a great place to sit outside and watch the narrowboats navigating their way between the two historic waterways. And, you’re guaranteed a warm welcome from the owners.
In a charming thatched building, owned and run by the Woodward family since 1877, the Boat Inn offers as warm a welcome now as it did 130 or so years ago, with same open fires still burning through the winter. With ales, ciders and wines to suit every palette, the pub also boasts two eateries with a more informal bistro and Woodwards Restaurant with its gorgeous canalside views.
Sitting on the banks of the Severn with great views of the nearby lock and weir, this rustic pub is a wonderful spot to sit and watch life on the river. The large garden is enlivened by the resident peacocks, chickens, ducks, geese and Sandy the turkey. A small mooring spot is available for passing boats to stop off for some refreshment.
With a history stretching back 800 years when it was originally built as an almshouse, the Trout Inn could reasonably claim to be one of the oldest pubs in the country. It became an inn in 1472 and has continued in that guise, being renamed The Trout Inn in 1704 in recognition of the ancient fishery rights bestowed upon the pub by Royal Charter – it still controls two miles of trout and coarse fishing waters. The pub has been owned and run by Penny Warren for nearly three decades and she has worked hard to preserve its traditional charm, with roaring log fires in winter and a gorgeous riverside garden to enjoy in summer.
This beautiful waterside free house deep in the Shropshire countryside is surrounded by three acres of park-like gardens next to the famous Llangollen Canal. With its tap room and cosy snug warmed by a fire in winter, the Jack Mytton also boasts a sheltered courtyard with seating and a Mediterranean style al fresco bar for hot summer days. There is private mooring space for up to six boats.
The Bay Horse dates back to 1822 and grew in popularity as the industrial revolution saw the local population working the mills soar. Today it remains an idyllic traditional inn with cask ales and hearty food, surrounded by the breath-taking landscapes of the Yorkshire Dales, with a sheltered garden overlooking the canal.
Nearest Anglo Welsh canal boat bases: Whixhall and Bunbury
This lock keeper’s cottage turned pub on the Cheshire-Shropshire border sits right beside a working lock on the Llangollen canal, making it an ideal spot to watch the narrowboats coming and going. The family run pub has a large beer garden and playground and great cask ales often sourced from local breweries, making it popular with boaters, walkers and locals alike.
There are hundreds of lovely waterside pubs across the canal and river network for narrowboat holiday-makers to enjoy.
Here’s our pick of the pubs for 2017:
1. Survey gorgeous valley views from the Cross Guns – one of Wiltshire’s best known pubs, the Cross Guns at Avoncliff is less than an hour’s cruise along the Kennet & Avon Canal from our base at Bradford on Avon. Dating back to the 17th century, this historic inn has idyllic riverside pub gardens offering panoramic views of the foothills of the Cotswolds and John Rennie’s impressive Avoncliffe Aqueduct. One of the oldest buildings in Avoncliffe, with a large central inglenook fireplace of the same style as those found at Hampton Court, this family and dog-friendly pub is famous for its real ales and whiskies and home-cooked food.
2. Follow in Morse’s footsteps at The Trout Inn – nestled on the banks of the Thames and steeped in history, this 17th century inn at Wolvercote can be reached in three hours from our Oxford base. As well as being a regular watering-hole Collin Dexter’s Inspector Morse, the Trout has inspired Lewis Carroll and provided a meeting place for King Henry II. With seasonal dishes, a great selection of wines, ales and lagers, roaring log fires and comfy armchairs, plus a large waterside terrace for al fresco dining, the Trout is a great place to stop-off at whatever the weather.
3. Get your breath back at The Poacher’s – Marston’s Poacher’s pub at Chirk is the other end of the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct from our base at Trevor, so it’s a great place to stop and get your breath back after enjoying the views from the Aqueduct. As well as great food including rotisserie chicken, this popular canalside pub serves a good selection of cask ales, wines and spirits and during the summer months hosts a Garden Grill.
4. Pick-up a pie at the Fleur de Lys – specialising in pies, this 17th century country pub in the village of Lowsonford is a three and a half hour cruise along the Stratford Canal from our base at Wootton Wawen. With low ceilings, oak beams, open fires, real ales and traditional pub games, the Fleur de Lys has a cosy and relaxed atmosphere and a large canalside pub garden for summer-time dining. Pies can ordered for take-away too.
5. Tuck into a traditional Sunday roast at the Wolseley Arms – Once a regular changing place for horses pulling coaches, the historic Wolseley Arms at Wolseley Bridge near Stafford is a short cruise from our base at Great Haywood on the Staffs & Worcester Canal. This farmhouse-style country pub oozes rural charm and offers hearty, seasonal pub food and cask ales. Part of the Vintage Inn chain, it has a pretty beer garden, log fires and serves traditional roasts on Sundays.
6. Try the Rotisserie chicken at the Hopwood House – this large historic canalside pub serving traditional pub food is a two-hour cruise along the Worcester & Birmingham Canal from our Tardebigge base. Well known for its Rotisserie chicken, freshly roasted every day in their own rotisserie ovens, this pub also offers an excellent ‘Little Chicks’ children’s menu, with a variety of main dishes and sides to mix and match and keep the little people happy.
7. Sample local ales at The Olde Barbridge Inn – this historic pub is an hour’s cruise from our base at Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal, near the historic village of Tarporley. The Olde Barbridge Inn sells a selection of beers brewed at its own brewery, based close by at Nantwich and serves classic British dishes with a contemporary twist and sources the majority of its produce locally.
8. Enjoy award-winning food at the Talbot Inn – this pub at Eynsham is popular with narrowboat holiday-makers setting off from our Oxford base on the River Thames near Witney. This charming historic pub boasts an award-winning restaurant, plus a traditional pub menu and serves a variety of ales straight from the cask. It has a decked area outside for warmer days where guests can enjoy views of both the river and beautiful Wytham Woods. The Talbot is a three minute walk from Eynsham lock and just a 25-minute cruise from our Oxford base.
9. Choose from a variety of local beers at the Buck & Bell – this lovely country pub on the village green at Long Itchington is a short walk from the Grand Union Canal and can be reached in two hours from our Stockton base. Dating back to the 17th century it serves excellent locally sourced food and offers a variety of menus with daily specials. It also serves real ales and beers from local breweries.
10. Find a warm Yorkshire welcome at the Robin Hood – this recently refurbished traditional Yorkshire pub, with real fires and stone flooring, offers draught lagers, cask ales (including Real Ales from local micro-breweries), home-cooked locally sourced bar meals on its specials board, as well as pizzas and burgers. The Robin Hood can be found close to the Leeds & Liverpool Canal at Kirkgate, not far from our canal boat hire base at Silsden.
To make a booking or to get friendly advice on canal holidays, please call our Booking Office on 0117 304 1122.
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