At this time of year, a warm, welcoming pub that keeps both eaters and drinkers happy is a particular joy – the perfect place to hole up in of a darkening evening, after a blustery walk across the fields.
Whether you've pulled on your walking boots and woolly hat for an autumn stroll or a bonfire night gathering, or you're simply motoring through Britain's green and pleasant land, we've selected some of the finest country pubs to help you on your way.
The Plough Inn, Longparish, Hampshire
It's fitting that we kick off with our Pub of the Year, 2013 (above and below). Chef James Durrant serves simple, local and seasonal food, and there's real ales and wines for slaking your thirst. A real gem.
Infectiously welcoming, this renovated country pub makes the most of its centuries-old building and amazing hillside setting. Local ales tapped straight from the cask and ancient beams set the tone in the bar, where hearty British food – cottage pie, fish and chips – pleases the lunchtime crowd.
Purefoy Arms - Preston Candover, Hampshire
Deep in the Hampshire countryside, this Victorian hostelry (pictured right) is firing on all cylinders following a recent takeover. There’s still space for drinking at the bar, or head over to the dining room for a colourful assortment of tapas alongside a broadly European menu.
Red Lion - East Chisenbury, Wiltshire
A cosy country pub run by talented Guy and Brittany Manning which is now quite the foodie hot spot. It's got beams, open fires, real ales from local breweries available on tap and even a pet dog, but it's the simple dishes executed with skill and precision that make this much more than your average freehouse.
The Griffin Inn - Fletching, East Sussex
Relaxed and relaxing, this Sussex stalwart has lots of local support. An ancient pub full of old beams, open fires and unforced charm accompanied by solid British dishes with an occasional Mediterranean twist.
The Millbrook Inn - South Pool, Devon
From the locally brewed ale to the spot-on service, standards are high in this old-fashioned village pub. Ingredients are well-sourced, seasonal and cooked with honesty and enthusiasm. A proper village local with top-notch food.
The Sun at Northaw - Northaw, Hertfordshire
A well-heeled, whitewashed village inn specialising in local produce. The menu abounds with regional delights that extends to local cheeses and ales.
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