Drink in the views: the UK’s 20 best waterside pubs

·6 min read
<span>Photograph: Alamy</span>
Photograph: Alamy

The Cross Guns, Wiltshire

A honey-stone exterior gives way to beautiful gardens with panoramic views of the River Avon, fringed with weeping willows. There is an impressive range of local ales, cider and weekly changing guest beers, as well as locally made cider. Drop in at the weekend to visit the tiki bar that’s in the garden for the rest of the summer. crossgunsavoncliff.com

The Cornmill, Denbighshire

The Corn Mill a waterside pub and restaurant next to the Dee bridge in Llangollen North Wales on the River Dee
Tide’s out, River Dee. Photograph: David Pimborough/Alamy

In Llangollen, on the River Dee, watch the white-water rafters from this pub perched over the rapids. Enjoy a glass of wine, or two, as the mill’s water wheel turns behind the bar, and the steam trains puff away on the opposite side of the riverbank. brunningandprice.co.uk/cornmill

Swan Inn, Oxfordshire

The sign of the Swan Inn, Swinbrook, showing a swan, swinging in front of an ivy-clad stone building
Stay at the Swan, Cotswolds. Photograph: Greg Balfour Evans/Alamy

The perfect-picture book Cotswold pub with bantam hens under the apple trees and sturdy tables on the banks of the Windrush river. It has a legendary Sunday lunch (booking is essential) with all the meat sourced locally, and there are 11 bedrooms between a cottage and a converted stable block. Doubles from £140 B&B; theswanswinbrook.co.uk

The Pandora Inn, Cornwall

A view over the water to the Pandora Inn captured shortly after sunrise
Tranquil morning, Pandora Inn. Photograph: Andrew Ray/Alamy

A thatched 13th-century inn on the edge of Restronguet Creek, this pub serves St Austell beer, and the ciders are Cornish too. Food includes fish pie with a Pernod sauce. The best way to arrive is by boat: there are both water taxis and moorings. pandorainn.com

Sculthorpe Mill, Norfolk

Vine-clad Sculthorpe Mill hotel sits on a small bridge crossing the shady River Wensum
Riverside reverie, Norfolk. Photograph: David South/Alamy

This riverside pub just 20 minutes inland from the Norfolk coast has won awards for its food – try the buttermilk chicken and waffles made with Norfolk Dapple cheese – while summer Saturdays bring DJs and an outdoor kitchen. Doubles from £150 B&B; sculthorpemill.uk

Mayfly, Hampshire

A sunny day at the Mayfly Pub with its terrace with tables and umbrellas overlooking a weir
Soak up the sun outside the Mayfly, Hampshire. Photograph: Dukas Presseagentur/Alamy

Sit under a parasol outside this gabled Victorian redbrick pub with views out to a small weir. Lunch on local trout then explore Chilbolton Cow Common, the Black Chalk winery and the timber-framed village of Wherwell. mayflyfullerton.co.uk

The Waterman’s Arms, Devon

The white exterior of Watermans Arms Public House, with trees in the background
Pizza and paddling at the pub, Harbourne. Photograph: Jonathan Somers/Alamy

On a reed-fringed bank of the Harbourne near Totnes, this 17th-century pub has 15 bedrooms and a rambling garden, and the river is usually low enough to paddle in. A summer pizza shack is currently in place alongside the restaurant’s classic pub grub. Rooms from £115; thewatermansarms.net

Swan at Streatley, Berkshire

Slip up to the Swan, Berkshire.
Slip up to the Swan, Berkshire. Photograph: Alamy

This pub and hotel in the Chilterns has a sprawling terrace that reaches to the river’s edge so you can enjoy a lunchtime rosé with views across a wide stretch of the Thames. There is also a private island nearby, accessible by electric boat. Doubles from £70; coppaclub.co.uk/at-the-swan

Butt & Oyster, Suffolk

Boats in front of the Butt and Oyster Inn at Pin Mill Chelmondiston beside the River Orwell with people at outdoor tables
Boats by the Butt, Suffolk. Photograph: Justin Kase/Alamy

Deservedly one of the best-known pubs on the east coast, the Butt & Oyster is just 10 minutes from Ipswich. Enjoy a pint of Adnams outside with gorgeous views across the River Orwell and endless Suffolk sky. debeninns.co.uk/buttandoyster

The Blue Lias, Warwickshire

Canal boats moored by the Blue Lias Inn, which has outdoor tables
Cruise the canal near the Blue Lias. Photograph: Jack Cox/Alamy

A pretty 18th-century pub festooned with flower baskets and tables, where the only passing traffic will be walkers and narrowboats on the Grand Union Canal – and the grub is pretty good, too. Walk it off afterwards with a tranquil stroll through the Warwickshire countryside. thebluelias.co.uk

Riverside, Sheffield

An urban gem on Kelham Island, just outside the city centre, with a wide terrace overlooking the River Don. There’s always a good selection of Yorkshire beers as well as Sheffield-made gin, while food has a strong vegan showing, including fried banana blossom and chips.

riversidesheffield.co.uk

Green Dragon Inn, Yorkshire Dales

The stone exterior of the Green Dragon pub, with brightly painted pub sign featuring a dragon
Drop in to the Dragon, Yorkshire. Photograph: John Morrison/Alamy

An ivy-clad Wensleydale gem, this inn backs on to Hardraw Force – a stunning waterfall with a 100ft drop – the longest in England. Don’t leave without trying their much-loved homemade steak pie, best paired with a pint of Theakston Old PeculiarPeculier ale. Doubles from £80 B&B; greendragonhardraw.com

Falls of Dochart Inn, Perthshire

Sunset at the Falls of Dochart, looking across the river to the hills
Sunset at the Falls of Dochart. Photograph: Terence O’Neill/Alamy

Enjoy a picturesque pint at this whitewashed hotel that overlooks the tumbling white-water rapids of the Falls of Dochart. There’s a focus on local artisan food, and they also produce their own smoked salmon. Doubles from £120 B&B; fallsofdochartinn.co.uk

The Taybank, Perthshire

A spectacular riverside setting with seven very lovely bedrooms and an acclaimed restaurant, The Taybank also hosts an open-air cinema in its garden, and there’s music inside. Doubles from £170 B&B; thetaybank.co.uk

Boathouse, County Antrim

Enjoy mussels and just-caught flaky cod with chips at this lakeside pub with views over Lough Neagh, a large freshwater lake. Afterwards, take a stroll along the shoreline – ideally you’ll time your walk for one of the glowing sunsets.

boathouseantrim.co.uk

Ye Olde Ferrie Inn, Herefordshire

On this staggeringly beautiful bend of the Wye River, there’s been a hostelry since 1473 but the latest incarnation has seriously good food including salmon from its own river and Herefordshire beef and Forest of Dean wild boar. There’s accommodation too, and canoes to hire. Doubles from £110 B&B; yeoldferrieinn.com

Boat Inn, Monmouthshire

The magical terraced gardens of the Boat Inn are reached by an old railway bridge. Spend an afternoon watching the waterfall tumbling down from the rocks above. There’s a lovely retro menu – don’t miss the scampi and chips – and all tables have views on to the idyllic River Wye. Accommodation to sleep four from £100 per night, minimum stays apply; theboatpenallt.co.uk

Kingfisher on the Quay, Surrey

The pub sign featuring a Kingfisher
Worth more than a flying visit, the Kingfisher. Photograph: Sam Oaksey/Alamy

Perfect for a summer afternoon, the Kingfisher’s outdoor area spills out on to the edge of a spring-fed lake, and the decked terrace is dotted with red and green umbrellas. If you want to get active there’s swimming and water-skiing sessions, otherwise relax with an Aperol spritz and enjoy some of their tapas-style dishes – the crispy chilli squid is particularly tasty. destinationinns.co.uk/pubs/kingfisheronthequay

Anchor Inn and Boating, Sussex

A delightful countryside pub on the west bank of the River Ouse, not far from Lewes. Along with lovely locally sourced food, the pub has a fleet of rowing boats for customers to gently navigate the river as far as Fish Ladder Falls, before heading back for a pint or a Pimm’s. anchorinnandboating.co.uk

Tamesis Dock, London

Moored between Lambeth and Vauxhall bridges, this converted 1930s Dutch barge is the perfect floating pub. At high tide, you’ll gently bob about on the Thames, while at low tide you’ll be drinking at a slight angle but it’s worth it for the views of the Houses of Parliament, London Eye and Battersea Power Station. tdock.co.uk