Britain's best canal and riverside pubs

There's nothing like a refreshing drink and hearty meal after a waterside walk or a day on the boat  – here's our guide to the best canal and riverside pubs in Britain 

1st June 2017
The Mayfly pub, Hampshire

Riverside pubs

The Cutter Inn, Ely, Cambridgeshire

Feast on a rocky-road brownie sundae while watching rowing boats bob and canoeists paddle at The Cutter Inn. The Great River Ouse runs to the east of the town of Ely, and is hugged on both banks by paths. This popular drinking hole is the midway point of the 50-mile Fen Rivers Way.  

Cutter Inn
The Cutter Inn, Ely, Cambridgeshire

The Pandora Inn Mylor Bridge, Cornwall

What better way to spend a summer’s day than sat on a decked pontoon, sunshine glittering on the water and Cornish ale in hand? This 13th-century pub in Restronguet gives you all this and more. Arrive by car, boat, bike or on foot, before taking a circular walk along creekside paths, through fields and woodlands.

The Pandora Inn
The Pandora Inn Mylor Bridge, Cornwall

The Trout Inn. Lechlade, Gloucestershire 

Boasting over 700 years of history – including the possession of ancient fishing rights over a two-mile stretch of nearby waters – The Trout in Lechlade has an impressive legacy. Its riverside gardens provide guests with the chance to relax after an amble on the Thames Path, and the camping field, open throughout the summer, is the perfect setting for a night beneath the stars. 

The Trout Inn
The Trout Inn. Lechlade, Gloucestershire 

The Mayfly Chilbolton, Hampshire 

Perched on the banks of the River Test in the heart of the Hampshire countryside, The Mayfly – with its riverside terrace and quality pub food – is a truly idyllic pub. The Test is famed for its trout fishing, but also provides flat, easy walking. 

Mayfly Inn
The Mayfly Chilbolton, Hampshire 

Skelwith Bridge Hotel Ambleside, Cumbria

Hungry fell walkers in the Lake District will be glad to find Skelwith Bridge Hotel and its Talbot Bar set close to the banks of the River Breathy near Ambleside. Laze outside in the peaceful pub garden, dining on traditional Lakeland food, Sunday roasts and a pint of Jennings real ale.

Skelwith Bridge Hotel
Skelwith Bridge Hotel Ambleside, Cumbria

Ye Old Ferrie Inn Symonds Yat, Herefordshire 

This delightful pub sits right on the water’s edge – extremely handy if you arrive by boat. Stay the night in one of its river-view rooms, try your hand at paddleboarding, and indulge in good honest food and local ales. Enjoy spectacular views down to the River Wye, or explore nearby Symonds Yat Rock, the perfect landscape for walking and mountain biking. 

Ye Old Ferry Inn
Ye Old Ferrie Inn Symonds Yat, Herefordshire 


Canalside pubs

Savour local produce at the Lock Keeper, Bristol

Situated on the grassy banks of Bristol’s river Avon, the charming Lock Keeper pub began its life as a private house, whose occupier used water from the river and nearby well to brew. Famous for its steak and Young’s ale pie, you’ll be spoilt for choice with the pubs selection of local cheeses, British lamb and fresh fish.

Enjoy Scotland’s single malts at The Bridge Inn, Midlothian

Step aboard this historic barge and taste some of Scotland’s finest ales. Watch the world pass by as you float along the Union Canal, stepping off to get a closer view of the Almondell Aqueduct before drifting downstream with dessert and one of 20 single malts from around the country.

Moor up at the rustic Black Lion, Stoke on Trent

With moorings on its doorstep, canal is by far the easiest way to reach the Black Lion, a cosy country pub tucked away in the idyllic Churnet Valley. Witness the spectacular tree clad valley surrounding the canal as it snakes beneath the Churnet railway line, before toppling over the weir’s edge. For the keen walkers out there, The Black Lion stands surrounded by rolling upland landscapes close to the Peak District National Park boundary.

Family fun at the Navigation Inn, Abergavenny

Visit the family run Navigation Inn on the border of the Brecon Beacons. Sample some live blues, folk or jazz and spice up your evening with some real ales and delicious fair-trade or organic produce. This classic pub is a gem in the heart of Wales.

Food for all at The Narrow Boat Inn, Shropshire

Escape to the Narrow Boat Inn and enjoy a hearty Sunday roast with all the trimmings. The pub’s British and international dishes attract visitors from across the region. Friendly staff make you feel at home as you relax in the ambient atmosphere of the bar, beside the tranquil water.

Look out for wildlife at The Three Horseshoes, Hemel Hempstead

Full of nooks, crannies and beams, this traditional 16th century pub opens out onto the Grand Union Canal, the longest in England. In the warmer months, dine alfresco on the canal side patio near the towpath edge, home to mallards, moorhens and swans, or warm up next to a roaring log fire in winter. Good wholesome food is served all day long.

Grand Union Canal, Hemel Hempstead
The Grand Union Canal, Hemel Hempstead

Listen to live music at The Canal Turn, Lancashire

Head to the The Canal Turn in the historic market town of Carnforth. This bustling pub set alongside the Lancaster Canal regularly features an array of live local talent and creativity. After dinner grab your walking boots and admire the dramatic landscape of the town, set between the Yorkshire Dales and Lake District National Parks.

Explore The Maltsters, Norfolk

Surrounded by nature reserves, pretty villages, windmills and miles of open river, The Maltsters provides a well-earned break from a busy day of adventure. Treat yourself to some quality steak in the pub’s adjoining restaurant or chow down on honey roast ham and a refreshing salad. If you’re still full of energy, take advantage of the many bird-watching opportunities or snap a picture of the scenic waterways.

Visit the historic Barge Inn, Wiltshire

Dating back to the Stone Age and just a short walk from the famous Avebury stone circle, The Barge Inn is steeped in colourful British history. Formerly known as The George, the building has had its fair share of uses, from a slaughterhouse to a cart shed. Sample Wiltshire’s finest brewed pints made from locally drawn water, but don’t forget to leave room for some delicious homemade chocolate brownies.

Cider galore at the Bluebell Cider House, Stratford upon Avon

A popular watering hole for those navigating the waterways, this canalside pub is a must for cider fans everywhere. Choose from a range of delicious blends to sip as you take in the beautiful surroundings of Warwickshire. Relax in the pubs lounge, snug or bar or venture into the garden to watch the sunset over the Avon canal.

Stratford upon Avon
The canal runs through Stratford upon Avon

Drop into The Anchor, Staffordshire

Having been run by the same family for more than 100 years, The Anchor is a truly old-fashioned canal-side pub. In the heart of beautiful Staffordshire countryside this Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) pub has an adjacent campsite, and is so traditional that the landlady still fetches ales from the cellar in a jug!

Moor at The George, Kennet and Avon Canal, Somerset

Originally a monastery, this pretty 12th-century pub sits alongside the canal and opposite the village church, in the green hills of Somerset. Cosy in winter with open fires, and with courtyard seating in summer, it is allegedly haunted by a Frenchman who perished there after losing a duel. Overnight mooring is available.

Kennet and Avon Canal
The Kennet and Avon Canal passes through Bathampton and The George pub

Try beer and whiskey at The Eagle Barge, Inverness-shire

Once used by the German army in First World War, the Eagle Barge now rests on the glorious Caledonian Canal, reinvented as a floating pub and seafood restaurant. This unique place serves a fine range of Scotch whiskeys and magnificent platters of fresh fish and shellfish in the evenings.

Explore the extensive history of The Navigation Inn, Derbyshire

High in the Peak District this pub overlooks the Bugsworth Basin, a canal port that was crucial to the Limestone mining in the 1700s. Listed as an ancient monument, it is rich in Derbyshire’s industrial history, and sits amid glorious moorland. A CAMRA pub, it also offers delightful bed and breakfast.

Images: Alamy

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