With the guidelines around social distancing changing almost daily, and local lockdowns becoming a regular staple of the headlines, you could be forgiven for thinking that a trip to the pub just now isn’t the best idea. But these bastions of British life are still open, and, so long as you go in groups of six or fewer, you can still enjoy a great evening down the local.
We’ve rounded up the pubs with the best views and gardens in the UK, so you can have that pint to take outside and drink in gallons of virus-free fresh air along with your Pinot Grigio.
The Scott Arms, Kingston, Dorset
With unparalleled views over the Purbeck countryside towards Corfe Castle, this pub takes centre stage in the picturesque village of Kingston. Head out for a stroll to Swire’s Head for some sea air before relaxing with a pint in the extensive beer garden. Payment is by contactless card only in order to remain Covid-safe.
Botley Hill Farmhouse, Surrey
This 16th century pub is within easy reach of London and yet you’ll feel miles away from the city in no time at all thanks to the far reaching views and spacious beer garden. This pub prides itself on its use of local produce from neighbouring farms so expect a top-notch menu if you do decide to sit down and eat. It also helped found a local micro brewery so local ales are also in order. Pre-booking essential due to Covid-19. Other measures in place include an outside bar, a one-way system and no paper menus.
Driftwood Spars, St Agnes
With a swoon-inducing view of North Cornwall’s dreamy Trevaunance Cove, the Driftwood Spars has two sizeable gardens as well as its own micro-brewery. In the summer it’s full of holiday-makers and South West Coast Path-walkers, but come the autumn you can have the view of the sea-mists rolling in and treacly late afternoon light pretty much to yourself. They also have rooms, so you can drift off after an evening of shandies with shanties lulling you to sleep. A social-distancing plan is in place. You will be met by a member of staff at the door who will explain the measures.
The Drift Inn, New Forest
Set in the heart of the forest, this country pub is heaven for horse lovers, surrounded as it is by wild ponies. Eat and drink in the sprawling beer garden while the kids are kept busy on the climbing frame. The gastro-style menu champions local produce and is known for its creative desserts – from cinnamon doughnuts to a Pimms cheesecake. Be sure to try the local Cumberland sausage ring nicknamed ‘the drift dog’. Food is immaculately presented and the pub has put measures in place to ensure it is Covid safe.
The Hare & Hounds, near Bath
Children and grown ups alike will easily fall under the spell of the Hare & Hounds with its woodland play trail and panoramic views over the Somerset countryside. The food is first-rate and can be enjoyed in cottage-style gardens while you take in the views. The pub is Covid-secure with a one-way system, socially distanced tables and hand sanitiser on tables and at the entrance. Booking required.
The Granta, Cambridge
With terraces overlooking the river Cam, you can sit and watch the punters drift down the river while you sip on your pint. Its boat-themed decor and an extensive food menu make it the ideal pitstop for a day trip to Cambridge. You can book a table, even if it’s just for a drink and social distancing measures are in place.
The Grain Barge, Bristol
This retired industrial boat is now permanently moored in west Bristol, from where you can watch the river life tootling past, from small fishing boats to dogs on paddleboards. Sit outside on the top deck, where the gentle swell of the river brings with it the faintest of sea-breezes. It’s ideal for a refreshing pit-stop in between visiting Bristol’s museums and galleries, and the food and craft beers will give you the energy to climb up to Cabot Tower for far-reaching views over the city. The barge has a series of safety measures in place to ensure that it’s a Covid safe option for diners.
The Old Swan, Minster Lovell
The sister pub to swanky hotel Minster Mill, the Old Swan has use of the latter’s 65 acres of garden on the banks of the river Windrush, with wildflower meadows, woodland and babbling brook. A perfect Cotswolds local, it also has vaut-le-voyage food and drink. And this part of the world is perfect to visit during the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, when the rolling hills turn golden and early-morning mist rises in the valleys. The pub is following all the necessary Covid guidelines to ensure that diners can eat safely.
The Seven Stones Inn, St Martin’s, Isles of Scilly
The Seven Stones Inn on the island of St. Martin’s sits just above the main (only) road that runs through the 2-mile long island, affording it the most spectacular views across the entire archipelago. Open every day serving lunch and dinner, this quirky, rustic old stone pub sources the majority of its produce from the islands themselves; from lobster and crab caught in the surrounding clear waters, to the fruit and vegetables grown on farms, many a matter of meters away. All contribute to daily specials and hearty, wholesome dishes, whilst local gin, vodka, rum and ales created on Scilly are all available behind the bar for a sunset aperitif.