The UK’s best pubs with beer gardens for post-lockdown drinking
The time-honoured pursuit of relaxing in a sunny beer garden with a refreshing glass of ale, lager or wine is something we used to take for granted, an essential part of any British weekend. Not so in 2021. Our pubs and restaurants have truly been through the wars over the past year, opening and closing as lockdowns determine our ability to socialise.
Finally, there is light at the end of the tunnel. The vaccine roll-out is well underway, and a date has been set for the reopening of pub beer gardens and restaurant outdoor spaces (April 12, if it’s not already etched in your calendar).
You’ll want to support your local pub, of course, but if you’re considering venturing further afield in the coming weeks, the British Beer and Pub Association estimates there are 27,000 pubs with beer gardens in the UK, and it is the establishments with large outdoor spaces that are likely to provide the most enjoyable (and normal) pub experience.
With that in mind, we select 19 of the best pubs in England with large and attractive beer gardens, all of which are eager to refresh responsible drinkers when the time comes.
Lower Lode Inn
Ale was first served here at the end of the 16th century, but obviously things have changed a bit since, apart from the slow, stately progress of the River Severn, which borders the Inn’s large and sloping beer garden. There are also lovely views across to Tewkesbury and its glorious Abbey. Either travel here along country lanes or there is often a ferry that crosses from the other side (though check if it is currently running).
Ham is a small village a couple of miles out of Berkeley, home of the castle where Edward II met his inglorious death. The “Sally”, as it is known locally, sits on the corner of the road that curves out of Berkeley, with its large picket-fenced garden at the front. From here, enjoy expansive views towards the Forest of Dean in the distance, while local ciders and beers brewed at the back of this multi-award-winning pub can be studied with great attention.
Sitting on a spit of land where the Exeter Ship Canal vanishes into the tidal depths of the Exe Estuary, the Turf was built in the early 19th century for the canal’s lock-keepers. Now it’s a popular pub, whose large garden has a fantastic prospect of both the estuary and verdant Devon countryside. Do note: the nearest car park is more than half a mile away, but a walk through desolate wetlands will sharpen the thirst and appetite even more.
This is a classic old village pub that has been owned by the same family for more than 100 years and is well known for its selection of beers and ciders (the latter made by the landlord from local apples), as well as live music. Out in front, a lawn with benches extends out to a quiet lane and there are views of the English Channel in the distance. The South West Coast Path also passes close by, so why not combine imbibing with exercise?
Here’s a large pub garden with views to die for, which would have been literally true in 1642 when the battle of Edgehill took place in the fields below. The Castle is a historical show-stopper too, an 18th-century folly built where Charles I apparently unfurled his standard before fighting took place. Now, the scenes of sylvan views are more tranquil, and a pint of Old Hooky from pub owners Hook Norton Brewery will be an excellent idea.
Standing in the shadow of the medieval Ypres Castle, this venerable clapperboard-faced establishment is said to have the only beer garden in Rye. It is also a good-sized green space with plenty of room for social distance drinking, which will include locally brewed cask beer and Rothaus Pils, the pub’s regular Black Forest-brewed lager. Glorious views over Romney Marshes are an added bonus.
Part paved and part grassed, the expansive beer garden at this listed 16th-century farmhouse has views over the lush Surrey Hills, where sheep safely graze. Returning to more earthly pleasures, the farmhouse is also home to Titsey Brewing, which is based in a former military bunker built in its grounds. Try a pint of the 3.7% Gresham Hopper pale ale, an ideal thirst-quencher after a rural ramble.
Close to the source of the Itchen as well as the site of an important Civil War battle, Cheriton is many people’s idea of an idyllic English village. This red-brick pub, that dates from the 1800s, is also a comforting sight, especially as it is home to Flower Pots Brewery, which means lots of award-winning fresh beer. There is a spacious lawn at the front, as well as more green space at the back, both ideal spaces to devote time to several glasses of Perridge Pale.
Two slumbering red lions guard the entrance to this Fuller’s pub not far from the Thames, possibly as a hint that it might be better to go around the back for the massive beer garden, where favourites such as London Pride and ESB will be available. Here there is decking, grass-roofed beach-hut lookalikes and plenty of space. Incidentally, no ball games are allowed in the garden, though the story is told of a man chucking a rugby ball around with his two children. Cue licensee who pointed out the rule to… Lawrence Dallaglio.
Given its proximity to Kew Bridge station, there’s no surprise about the origins of the name of this likeable Victorian-era pub which, from the outside, shows off the solid and geometrically perfect architectural flourishes of that period. Inside, it’s similarly atmospheric but, for now, the leafy and roomy beer garden at the back is an ideal place to enjoy excellent beers from the likes of Big Smoke as well as robust pub grub, both of which the Express has been selling to take away during the coronavirus lockdown.
This is an imposing “Tudorbethan” pub built in the 1930s, when breweries wanted to add a bit of a “Merrie England” look to their establishments. There is an acre of land at the back where excellent beers (some brewed over the river by Adnams in neighbouring Southwold) and wines, as well as al fresco dining courtesy of a pizza oven and barbecue, can be enjoyed. The views over the gunmetal blue of the North Sea will undoubtedly inspire thoughts of travel before you order another pint.
Long nicknamed The Low House (owing to its low-lying position in the village), the inside of this ancient, community-owned village inn is a glorious warren of rooms with high wooden settles and parchment-coloured walls dotted with old prints. The comfortably commodious garden at the back is a sun-dappled delight, where you can sit happily with a pint of Adnams’ pristine Ghost Ship and listen to the village church clock sound the hour.
The Fleece was built towards the end of the 14th century and has been an unchanging part of the Cotswolds pub scene. Now owned by the National Trust, and managed by Nigel Smith it has a big open garden as well as an apple orchard, all of which will make for convivial outdoor drinking. During lockdown, The Fleece continued its role as a community hub by offering dishes and local beers to be taken away, but now you’ll be able to experience these within its gardens.
Is this the oldest pub in the land? Possibly, though others also claim the crown. Dating back to the 11th century (it is said), Ye Olde Fighting Cocks has seen all manner of crises come and go down the centuries and still prevails. Enjoy socially distanced drinking and eating in its large beer garden, which once appeared in an Inspector Morse episode with John Thaw enjoying a pint in the fresh air.
Here is a little bit of beer-garden tranquillity in the middle of Derby’s hustle and bustle. Owned and run by Derby Brewing Company, the great outdoors is represented by both a roof terrace and a paved and walled beer garden. Food includes burgers, burritos and nachos, while beers come from DBC as well as cans and bottles from more than 100 craft breweries across the world.
Yes, it’s next to a picturesque bridge (Grade II listed actually), which crosses the River Aire, plus this popular community pub has an expansive beer garden that stretches down to the river (and has been known to get flooded in the past). The inn is owned by the highly regarded Kirkstall Brewery, whose Dissolution IPA is an ideal drop with which to celebrate your return to the pub beer garden.
The garden at Tweedies is an ideal spot to drink beer on a sunny day, with the sight of surrounding Fells accompanied by the gentle rustle of leaves from the mature trees that dot its boundaries. What to drink? There are more than a dozen beers, ciders and perries to choose from, so you may be some time.
Described as one of Leicester’s best-kept pub secrets, The Old Horse’s beer garden leans out at the rear, a long well-kept length of lawn, dotted with shrubberies and overhung by mature trees. Oh, and there is, what looks like, a rugby post at the end as well, which given that the city is home to Tigers, doesn’t surprise. As well as Everards’ beers, the juice of the apple is celebrated here with up to nine ciders available.
Here is the largest beer garden in Preston, mixing in fixed seating and a substantial grassy area that was once a bowling green in the 19th century (the hotel was a farmhouse in the same period). The space is not wasted, with plenty of events taking place, including an annual gin festival, which sadly was due to be held during what became the lockdown. Still, there is plenty of choice for lovers of John Barleycorn, with six cask beers usually available.