A north-to-south guide of some of our favourite pubs from across the land.
The English pub is an unparalleled phenomenon. Trust us, we’ve done the legwork. Nowhere else in the world have we been able to find anything quite as charming as Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem, the Nottingham pub built in 1189, nestled beneath the cliff on which Nottingham Castle sits, or The Dirty Duck in Stratford-upon-Avon, which is regularly populated with world-famous actors staggering out of the Royal Shakespeare Company for a rejuvenating pint.
In the spirit of sourcing the best beers in England (a hard task, but someone’s got to do it), we’ve created a north-to-south guide of some of our favourite pubs from across the land.
There are very few pubs in the UK with such spectacular views as The Cow and Calf. As two former Leeds University students, this was a regular haunt for many slovenly third-years on an attempt to be remotely civilised on a Sunday. The walk up to the moors from Ilkley station is completely idyllic, albeit a superb uphill challenge. The roast at the end makes it all worthwhile. The Cow and Calf is your classic English pub, but its dishes are delivered with style and panache.
Fun fact: this was the destination of one of our first dates and we are both still standing without too many war wounds, so take that as our glowing review. If you’re spending the day in Ilkley, we’d thoroughly recommend the characterful little cinema and the charming haberdashery shops in town, all exclusively populated by 80-year-olds.
Thanks to its staggering selection of beers on tap and endearing modern rustic aesthetic, Junkyard is one of those pubs we’d rather keep to ourselves. But we’re nice — so feel privileged that we’re giving you even a whiff of this establishment.
Situated down the most unsuspecting alleyway in the Lace Market area of Nottingham, this place isn’t easy to find, but we promise your efforts will be rewarded with a delicious craft beer and a food menu that will have you drooling in seconds.
It’s one of our favourites, and if the place gets too crowded there’s a lovely beer garden with more fairy lights than a Gen-Z student’s university bedroom. Cosy.
Named after the boat that transported pilgrims from Plymouth to the New World in 1620, the Mayflower pub is a treasure chest of maritime memorabilia, with excellent food and drink offerings.
Keeping with the sea theme, the pub has delicious seafood to keep you in a buoyant mood during your visit. We’re still hunting down a plate of moules frites that even comes close to that on the Mayflower menu. And better yet, the beer garden is situated on the banks of the River Thames, perfect for spending a lazy Sunday afternoon watching the boats go by with a pint in hand.
For a pub with real history, eclectic clientele and just the right amount of eccentricity, look no further. Situated in close proximity to Bristol University, the hospital and just up the hill from the city, you can enjoy an ale sitting next to lecturers, doctors, students and creatives, all the while with a toy train pootling round a track above your heads.
It’s cosy in winter and buzzing in summer, with a lovely hidden walled garden out the back. The food is traditional English and the smell of gravy wafting through the pub is enough to make you surrender your Veganuary plans in the blink of an eye.
We wiled away a good five hours at this isolated pub, playing endless games of chess and drinking local ales. We hasten to add that they did, in fact, have wine on tap, but we felt that this might have been a slippery slope, and unfortunately we did have to drive home at some point. They did have bed and breakfast available though upstairs, in case you found yourself overindulging.
Cadgwith is a tiny village and fishing port on the Lizard peninsula, and this pub is therefore primarily filled with fishermen. The walls are decorated with photos of generations of old fishermen from the past, most of whose children and grandchildren populate the pub every weekend. For a real Cornish experience, the opportunity to hear some sea shanties and feel as though you’ve stepped back in time, this is the pub to visit.