Here it is, the most requested guide I’ve done so far! People have asked me to write a list of country pubs near Bristol for years, and after visiting a fair few of these and also getting a handful of extra recommendations, here are some of my top picks.
Let me know if there are any others you think I should include, I’m always on the lookout for more places to visit and recommend!
South of Bristol: Somerset & Chew Valley
The Rising Sun, Pensford
Backdrops don’t come much more dramatic than the Victorian viaduct towering over the beer garden at the back of The Rising Sun. You’ll also find the River Chew running alongside the garden, giving it extra picturesque points. The interior is also rustic and cosy, with locally-renowned roasts every Sunday.
The Angel Inn, Long Ashton
I immediately warmed to the proper village feel of this pub as soon as I walked in. The Angel Inn is popular with locals, ramblers and visitors alike, with untarnished old features inside (parts of the buildings are Grade II listed and date from 1495!), a big courtyard for outdoor drinking, and a menu of pub comfort grub.
The Ring O’ Bells, Compton Martin
Chew Valley is seriously spoilt with plenty of great pubs, one of my favourites being the family-friendly Ring O’Bells in Compton Martin (check your sat nav before you set off – there are a few different Ring O’Bells in the area). Boasting a huge garden overlooking fields, a big playground, high quality food, lots of room inside and plenty of parking, it’s a great choice for a weekend lunch visit or trip with a larger group.
The Blue Bowl, West Harptree
Located just a stone’s throw from Chew Valley Lake, The Blue Bowl is a relaxed pub housed in an 18th Century building and bigs up its ‘legendary’ burgers (13 options are available!) and hot sauce collection (including their very own Spitfire Chill Sauce). They also do a good value menu of pub classics and have a large garden out back. Proper job.
The Railway Inn, Sandford
I discovered this pub after a visit to the Thatchers cider farm and shop next door, so if you’re down this way, make a day of it with a cider tour followed by lunch! As you’d expect, you can find the full Thatchers range behind the bar at The Railway Inn, plus cider weaved into several menu items or pairings as an additional option. But there’s still plenty for cider dodgers to enjoy.
The Druids Arms, Stanton Drew
Thought a viaduct in a pub garden was impressive? How about a series of stone circles dating from 2500 BC? The Druids Arms can probably boast the most historic pub garden features in the country, if not the world. The pub itself has a cosy fireplace to warm yourself in winter, or the aforementioned garden to enjoy in summer. Plus a range of pub staples to munch on, from rolls to ham, egg and chips.
East of Bristol: Bath & Wiltshire
The Quarrymans Arms, Corsham
The first time I stepped out from this small and unassuming pub into their back garden and saw the view, I genuinely gasped. The Quarrymans Arms has been brought into the Butcombe fold and so the menu and interior has had a spruce up, with rooms also available to book above the pub.
The Hare & Hounds, Bath
On to my favourite pub garden to date, and if you can find me a better view I’ll eat my pint glass. The Hare and Hounds is close to the top of Lansdown Hill just by Bath Racecourse, so a hefty climb from Bath city centre – definitely a bus or taxi! The food is great, the seating is plentiful and they now have an extra bar on the terrace for busier days. I will never stop being wowed by this view.
The Lock Keeper, Keynsham
Tucked in just behind a busy A road, The Lock Keeper still manages to be a tranquil pub, with a garden leading down to the River Avon, perfect for sunny days. Being a Young’s pub, you can expect a decent selection of ales and some reliable pub classics on the menu. If you fancy a stroll to another excellent riverside pub, The Chequers Inn and The Old Lock & Weir in Hanham are only half an hour away along the river path (one for summer or autumn when it isn’t waterlogged!).
The Inn at Freshford
Located just by where the River Frome meets the River Avon, this 16th Century gastropub is surrounded on all sides by stunning countryside and walking routes. The Inn at Freshford also has an award-winning pub garden which is perfect for soaking in the views.
The Longs Arms, Upper South Wraxall
Named as one of the Top 50 Gastropubs in the country, The Longs Arms is an ambitious gastropub putting food first without taking itself too seriously. Alongside the fancier menu items such as venison and oysters, you’ll also find a Pub Grub section including cod and chip, burger and chips and ham, egg and chips.
The Cross Guns, Avoncliff
Another pub situated in a seriously picturesque location, but a bit of a git to get to. The best way to get to The Cross Guns is by train to Avoncliff station (directly next to the pub), or walk along the river or canal from Bradford on Avon. It’s worth it for the lush multi-tiered riverside garden overlooking a weir and the Avoncliff Aquaduct though. The food is okay, really the main attraction here is the setting and the character of the pub itself (which dates from 1610, and some parts of the buildings from the 1490s!). Gorgeous inside and out.
The George Inn, Norton St Phillip
If you wanted to see the most haunted-looking pub I’ve ever come across, I’d send you straight here. The George Inn is oooold, with parts of the buildings dating back to 1397, making it one of Britain’s oldest pubs. The whole place is ridiculously well preserved, from the exterior to the courtyard, outbuildings and the gorgeous rooms inside. Their beer garden also has lovely views to the surrounding countryside. Again the food is decent but really the main draw here is the history and the lush beer garden.
North of Bristol: South Glos & The Cotswolds
The Bell Inn, Old Sodbury
Hard to miss with its yellow exterior, The Bell Inn is a popular gastropub for locals, visitors and guests staying in one of their rooms above. Their menu has a range of popular classics including steak and chips, fish and chips and a mega vegan burger, plus a free flowing Prosecco brunch on weekends. They’ve also got a pretty garden out the back.
The Royal Oak, Tetbury
A charming and lovingly restored Cotswold pub, The Royal Oak has plenty of space for you to either find a cosy corner or spread out in the sunshine. It’s won plenty of awards over the years and has several rooms (three of which are dog friendly) that you can book to stay in if you don’t fancy the drive home.
The Kings Arms, Didmarton
A traditional village pub with bundles of character and a warm welcome, The Kings Arms manages to be a great gastropub, chic guesthouse and a centre of the community all at once. It also has an expansive garden out back.
The Crown Inn, Frampton Mansell
Nestled in a quiet and idyllic part of the Cotswolds, The Crown Inn isn’t a pub you’ll stumble across, but inside it has plenty of traditional features, a large fireplace and a great selection of ales. The menu is a mix of predictable favourites (pork pie & chutney, curger & chips) and more unusual pub options (tempura vegetables, Jamaican style sweet potato curry). There are also nice gardens out the front and back of the pub with views of the surrounding countryside.
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