Head over to Arundel, around an hour and a half outside London for the Black Rabbit. It’s been a pub for 200 years and overlooks the famous castle on the River Arun. You’re also not far from the Wildfowl and Wetland Centre and there’s plenty of well sign-posted walks to work off a delicious pudding. The pub is famous for its Sunday roast.
45 minutes out of Liverpool Street will see you in Sawbridgeworth in Hertfordshire, where you can hole up in modern gastropub The Orange Tree for the afternoon. More Country Living than an old boozer, order up local Herts lamb or beef from daily changing menu and kick back in the charming pub garden. The times given below are for the kitchen, not the pub as a whole – check their website for more specific information on last ordering times.
Head down to Surrey for a walk on Bookham Common, a wonderful wild nature reserve and home to plenty of butterfly species. Walk, hike or cycle the paths and then retire to the Ye Olde Windsor Castle pub — a cosy medieval bolthole. A modern British menu is served up with panache and there’s plenty of space for bikes and children in the pub garden.
The Anchor pub sits prettily canalside in Pyrford on the banks of the River Wye and it’s the kind of place you can lose an afternoon sitting in the sun. For those that want to do more, it’s just down the road from the Royal Horticultural Society at Wisley. There’s a huge pub garden, people moor their boats, and there’s always crowds of jolly people.
Luckily for you, the oldest freehouse in England makes a lovely day trip from London. It’s only half an hour from Marylebone to Beaconsfield and from there another half an hour stroll to the medieval pub that dates back a whopping 900 years. There’s timber beams, little nooks, ancient furniture, pints of proper ale, lashings of home cooked food and a huge pub garden full of dogs and country folk. If you want to discover proper old-fashioned England, this is it.
Head down to Essex for The Bell Inn, a historic coaching inn in Horndon on the Hill which serves up pub grub with an Asian twist. Inside the pub you’ve got beams, exposed brick and daily changing menus on blackboards and you can even stay the night should the trek back seem too much like hard work.