6 autumnal country walks with pubs
Breath-taking landscapes, quiet glens and rocky hills are the core basis of these autumnal country walks. No Sunday afternoon walk is complete without finishing things off in a cosy country pub with mulled wine and a log fire crackling away in the hearth.
Exercise outdoors is sure to stir up the appetite, so these pubs all offer hearty food that’s perfect for hungry hikers. From small and undiscovered woodland trails to challenging hikes, get your walking boots on and head into the great outdoors.
1. Wickham Bishops, Essex
Distance: 3 ½ miles
This is a nice, easy stroll in the Essex countryside near Wickham Bishops. Our Client Liaison Executive, Maggie, recommended this one as she likes to walk at the weekends. From the church, the route heads northwards along a narrow lane then descends through a small wood before going along the meandering banks of the River Blackwater (through Benton Hall golf course) and passing beneath the last wooden railway viaduct in the country. The return route takes you across fields to the redundant St Peter’s Church and back up the hill to the village.
Eat at: The Green Man in Little Braxted, a short drive away. A popular pub with cyclists and walkers, The Green Man is a charming historic pub with a newly refurbished interior, featuring a clever blend of old and new with oak beams & log fires to keep you warm in the winter months. It’s a tiny, cosy pub with low beamed ceilings and a great selection of Greene King Ales and Aspells Ciders. Highlights on the menu include Wild Boar Ragu with Pappardelle Pasta, and classic Ploughman’s sandwiches.
2. Tintern, South Wales
Difficulty Level: Easy, with a steep climb at the beginning
Distance: 3 ½ miles
When you see Tintern Abbey for the first time as it appears over the hills, you will give a little gasp; it’s truly glorious. Begin by exploring the rocky ruins and wondering under the immense archways of the abbey. Give yourself time in the gift shop, where you can find artwork, history books, Welsh cream liqueurs, textiles and jewellery.
The walk starts at the abbey and takes you through the pretty town of Tintern, over the river and uphill into ancient woodlands. With an initial steep climb, keep an eye out for wildlife such as herons and kingfishers. The path takes you towards Offa’s Dyke, a limestone rock that protrudes from the cliffs. Cross fields and small villages to finish back at the abbey.
Eat at: The Anchor Inn in Tintern, just opposite the abbey. With its crumbly stone walls on the outside and a fresh, elegantly styled interior, it’s a great pub with locally sourced food on the menu. This pub has everything; a roaring fire, garden terrace, impressive views and local beers.
3. Beddgelert, North Wales
Difficulty Level: Easy
Distance: 4 ½ miles
Snowdonia is a paradise for expert walkers and hikers, but if you fancy something a little easier then there’s the Lôn Gwyrfai path which starts in Beddgelert, a picturesque village nestled between two fast-flowing rivers. An unspoilt destination of culture, legend and history, the traditional Welsh buildings are all built from the same mix of slate. Explore Dinas Emrys, a castle ruin, and the ‘Gelerts Grave’ monument which marks the resting place of a medieval Welsh Prince’s faithful greyhound.
Eat at: The Prince Llewelyn Hotel, set in the village centre. This good-looking pub sits right next to the river, with friendly staff offering a great selection of quality real ales. The Sunday roasts are legendary with local villagers and tourists alike. Dogs are allowed, with a beer garden where you can sit and watch the world go by.
4. Guestling, East Sussex
Difficulty Level: Easy
Distance: Variable depending on your route
The High Weald ancient woodlands at Guestling in East Sussex have two main footpaths, with a network of smaller paths and trails winding through the trees. These woodlands underwent a coppicing programme back in 2013, which encouraged a variety of foliage. You can see evidence of this still, with strong young branches bursting out of original stumps which are now grown over and covered in moss. It’s known by locals as being a good spot for chestnut picking, but you’ll also come across apple trees full to bursting and unusual mushrooms growing in felled logs.
Eat at: The Two Sawyers in Pett, 3 minutes up the road. This historic pub has seen its share of action over the years, with its close location to the coast once making it a meeting place for local pirates and smugglers. Now it’s a pretty family pub with a quaint cobbled courtyard, and a big fireplace that’s lit with a crackling fire from the end of September. A word of warning for taller visitors, the door frames and ceilings are wonderfully stooped. The food is perfect autumnal pub fare, with meaty stews, rich gravies and local veg.
5. Luss, Scotland
Difficulty Level: Intermediate, with some steps
Distance: 1 ½ miles
You get a sense that you’re walking through a film set as you wonder around the village of Luss. The identical houses are lined up in neat rows, with roses and foxgloves in beautifully tended front gardens. Set in the Highlands on the shores of Loch Lomond, tourists flock to the village in the summer to board the various boats that offer guided cruises. In the autumn months, things quieten down and the surrounding highland scenery transforms, with a riot of burnt oranges and reds that are unlike anything you would see in the south. The Luss Heritage walking path is a full circuit, starting by the pier and following the Luss Water river, past meadows with grazing sheep and up into the hills. You’ll discover an old mill next to the river, and a quarry where stone was mined to tile the roofs of 19th century Glaswegian tenement houses.
Eat at: The Loch Lomond Arms Hotel in Luss. Head Chef David Hetherington creates a spectacular menu inspired by the ‘bounty of the Scottish Highlands’. Herbs and vegetables are grown in the pub’s garden while lamb, pheasant and venison are sourced from the surrounding hills and salmon is caught from nearby sea lochs. Eat in the dining room or sit in the quieter library, which has huge, welcoming couches that are impossible to get out of once you’ve sat down. While there’s a great selection of Scottish gins and local craft ales, don’t overlook the wine list which is exclusively curated by expert Matthew Jukes.
6. Knaresborough, North Yorkshire
Difficulty Level: Easy
Distance: 7 ½ mile
Starting from Bilton and finishing in Knaresborough, a wooded river gorge is the star of this 7 ½ mile walk through the North Yorkshire countryside, with the trees sporting their autumnal colours. Simply follow the Sustrans cycleway 67 from Bilton to the old Victorian viaduct that spans the river and walk along the River Nidd whilst taking in the water-bank trees and wildlife. Stop at the pretty town of Knaresborough for lunch, and head back along the Beryl Nurton cycleway through fields and farmland, passing the 17th century Bilton Hall.
Eat at: Carriages in Knaresborough’s High Street. This listed building is located above a Victorian train tunnel and serves delicious, elegantly presented food all day, including a tapas menu. Expect rustic beams, bar stools and an unrivalled beer garden.