You can’t beat a good old pub. An ice-cold drink or meal in the beer garden with family and friends on a warm summer’s day is one of life’s simple pleasures. Even in the winter months, pubs still entice us in with their roaring fires and hearty, warming food.

Most of us have a favourite pub—usually one close to where we live. But, the beauty of holidaying, or indeed living, on a narrowboat is that you get to explore the country, moor up and enjoy the UK’s very best canalside pubs.

Hidden gems? You bet.

There are hundreds upon hundreds of canalside pubs in the UK, each unique and charming in their own right. We could be here all day discussing them—but (with great difficulty) we’ve whittled them down for you instead.

Whether it’s fine dining, real ale, classic pub grub, or just some peace and quiet you crave, we’ve got you covered. Here are seven of the best canalside pubs in the UK.

What are you waiting for?

 

1. The Admiral Nelson, Northamptonshire

Address: Dark Lane, Braunston, Daventry, NN11 7HJ

Phone: 01788 891900

Facilities

  • Baby changing
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Dog-friendly dining area


Sitting on the Northamptonshire banks of the Grand Union Canal is the stunning Admiral Nelson, the building of which predates even the canal it sits beside.

It’s fair to say the area has seen some change since the building the Admiral Nelson now occupies was first constructed around 1730. The pub and its surrounds are steeped in local history, but the origins of the Admiral Nelson itself are widely debated.

Some suggest the pub was first opened by a member of Nelson’s crew using proceeds from working with ‘The Admiral’ himself, who the pub was then named in honour of.

Regardless of its origin, the Admiral Nelson has something to offer all the family, whatever the occasion—with quality food, drink and scenery aplenty. Its charming brickwork restaurant seats 33 diners indoors with additional seating outside with views over the Grand Union and the rolling fields that straddle it.

All palates are catered for on the menus with plenty of vegetarian and vegan options to choose from. The menus change slightly every day, so it’s always best to check in advance of your booking. From pub classics to modern plates and your favourite tipple to wash it all down with, you’ll find it at the Admiral Nelson.

 

2. The Corn Mill, Llangollen

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Address: Dee Lane, Llangollen, LL20 8PN

Phone: 01978 869555

Facilities

  • Gluten-free menu
  • Mountain views
  • The Corn Mill and Pen-y-Coed walk


As the name suggests, this canalside pub was once a Welsh mill long before it became what it is now.

However, remnants of the old mill can still be seen as you walk through its welcoming doors today. With a gorgeous jumble of old oak beams from the roof down and a slowly-turning water wheel behind the bar, the Corn Mill has a truly authentic feel.

Peace personified, the outside decking runs directly over the mill race and rapids while gentle steam trains flow in and out of the restored railway station on the opposite bank of the River Dee.

The Corn Mill is passionate about sourcing fresh local ingredients and serving them in a modern but unpretentious way—no-nonsense grub if you like.

Its menus are rooted in classic British cuisine but draw influence from all over the world. For example, check out their slow-roasted belly pork with fennel and chorizo croquettes or vegetarian Malaysian-inspired curry with sweet potato, aubergine and chickpeas*.

The chefs and staff at the Corn Mill must be doing something right, as they’ve been featured in the Good Pub Guide every year since 2001.

New menus are uploaded online every day, including an exclusive gluten-free menu, so be sure to check out what’s hot before your booking.

*Dishes correct as of the restaurant’s website, April 2022.

 

3. The Dog and Doublet Inn, West Midlands

Address: Dog Lane, Bodymoor Heath, Sutton Coldfield, B76 9JD

Phone: 01827 873907

Facilities

  • Dog-friendly dining
  • Wedding facilities
  • Specialist Chinese menu


Did you know that the city of Birmingham has more miles of canal than Venice?

Well, now you do, and just a few miles north of the city, you’ll find our next pub quietly perched on the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal banks.

The Dog and Doublet Inn in Sutton Coldfield serves delicious food seven days a week, and its separate specialist Chinese menu—which features a vegan ‘chicken’ Chinese-style curry — is cooked fresh to order on selected days, too. Check out the website for more information.

You’ll find a good selection of hearty pub classics on the standard everyday menu, including the Dog and Doublet’s famous homemade pies, packed full of meat and served with your choice of chunky gourmet chips, mashed or boiled potatoes, and seasonal vegetables. There’s also a kids menu for the little ones, plus a carvery offering with all the trimmings.

The pub’s recently-built marquee area also means the Dog and Doublet is able to host weddings, so its outdoor area is perfect for al fresco dining or a crisp, canalside pint. And it’s dog-friendly, too (the clue’s in the name, right?)

The Dog and Doublet is also a stone’s throw from Bodymoor Heath, the multi-million-pound training complex of Aston Villa FC, so don’t be surprised if you see a few footballers knocking around, too.

 

4. The Anchor Inn and Boating, East Sussex

Address: Anchor Lane, Lewes, BN8 5EA

Phone: 01273 400414

Facilities

  • Wedding facilities
  • Boating on the River Ouse
  • Helicopter landing area


The Anchor Inn and Boating is a beautiful country pub and restaurant on the stunning west bank of the River Ouse, around four miles upstream from the county town of Lewes.

Built way back in 1790, the building was originally used as a stop-off and storage point for horse-drawn cargo barges travelling along the Ouse. Today, it’s only really interested in edible cargo.

From large family get-togethers to simple afternoon stop-offs on the boat, the Anchor Inn and Boating caters to all tastes and preferences, offering a wide variety of local and seasonal produce and a classic but fresh menu.

If it’s just drinks you’re after, rest assured the bar is kept well stocked with real ales, draught lagers, local ciders, selected wines, whiskeys, gins, and pretty much every other spirit you could think of.

The Anchor Inn and Boating is probably unlike any other canalside pub you’ve visited before. For a start, how many pubs have you been to with a helicopter landing patch and an outbound flight service?

Thanks to its partnership with A2B – The Brighton Helicopter Charters, you can fly directly to your chosen destination from the Anchor Inn. Check out the website for more information and prices.

If that wasn’t enough, you can also hire boats directly from the pub, allowing you to explore some of the most beautiful, unspoilt stretches of the River Ouse—an area renowned for its birdlife, so bring your binoculars.

 

5. The Holly Bush Inn at Denford, Staffordshire

Address: Denford Road, Leek, ST13 7JT

Phone: 01538 371819

Facilities

  • Live entertainment
  • Outdoor children’s play area
  • Meat platter buffet menu


It seems old mills being converted into canalside pubs is a running theme here, but who are we to complain? They clearly make great pubs.

One of the UK’s best canalside pubs, the Holly Bush Inn, too, is an old converted flour mill located on the banks of the peaceful Caldon Canal in Denford, Staffordshire.

It’s everything you’d expect from a traditional, friendly pub. However, what makes it extra special is its idyllic moorland setting, overlooking the beautiful Staffordshire countryside and farmland.

The Holly Bush Inn prides itself on its delicious homemade food and award-winning ales. Prepare to have your hunger cured, and thirst quenched no matter what time of year it is.

Be it in front of the roaring log fire in winter or out in the large beer garden in the height of summer, the Holly Bush caters for all tastes and all seasons. There’s an outdoor play area to keep the kids entertained, too.

Events at the Holly Bush also come highly recommended. From birthdays and weddings to christenings and anniversaries, the main restaurant area can seat up to 50 guests for set menu dining or up to 90 guests for an exquisite canalside buffet.

Check out either its traditional or meat platter buffet menus for a taste of what awaits.

 

6. The Cross Guns at Avoncliff, Wiltshire

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Address: 159-160 Avoncliff, Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire, BA15 2HB

Phone: 01225 862335

Facilities

  • Extended al fresco dining space
  • Seasonal menus
  • Panoramic river views


This stunning 16th-century pub in the village of Avoncliff is nestled beside the (you guessed it) River Avon, partway between the city of Bath and nearby Bradford-on-Avon.

Another canalside pub rooted in tradition, its original timber beams fall from the ceiling accompanied by open fires, beautiful gardens, vast outdoor dining space, and, of course, sumptuous views of the Avon.

The Cross Guns at Avoncliff is a ‘destination pub’ in its truest sense. People flock from everywhere here, and it’s easy to see why. Whether it’s a quick drink or a more special occasion, you can’t go wrong.

A selection of British pub favourites such as fish and chips and an 8oz beef burger make up the main seasonal menus, while the traditional bar is home to various local ales, ciders and premium beers. Most of the beer on tap at the Cross Guns is from local Wiltshire breweries, but its bottled beer range features craft favourites from all over the world.

They also have an exclusive wine list, if that’s more your thing.

The pub is perfectly placed for a ramble through the fields of the Two Valleys Walk, too, so you might want to pack your wellies.

Your trip to the Cross Guns is a real escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Taste, style, and time well-spent matter so much more here. Forget the weight of the world and immerse yourself.

 

7. The Olde Barbridge Inn at Nantwich, Cheshire

Address: Old Chester Road, Nantwich, CW5 6AY

Phone: 01270 528327

Facilities

  • Classic British menu
  • Local beer selection
  • Yearly Christmas specials


There’s an extensive network of canals and waterways in the North West, which means there are plenty of lovely canalside pubs to choose from, too.

Situated along the Shropshire Union Canal, just a short walk from the Barbridge Marina, is the Olde Barbridge Inn at Nantwich.

Here, like many pubs, they’re all about supporting local businesses, with the majority of their produce sourced from in and around Cheshire.

The pub describes its menu as ‘British with a contemporary twist’, and its Cheshire loyalty doesn’t just end in the kitchen either. In the bar, you’ll also find a fine selection of regional beers courtesy of Weetwood Ales, an award-winning Cheshire-based brewery and distillery, among others.

You’re always guaranteed a warm, friendly welcome from the staff at the Olde Barbridge. Its family-orientated atmosphere, beautiful interior and top-notch food means it’s been voted the best place to eat out in Nantwich many times.

Don’t just take everyone else’s word for it, though. Check it out for yourself.

 

Specialist narrowboat insurance from Insure4Boats

Feeling inspired by these beautiful canalside pubs? If you’re getting back out on your narrowboat this year, you need to make sure you have the right insurance first.

At Insure4Boats, our specialist narrowboat insurance protects your boat against theft, accidental damage, malicious damage, and salvage charges.

We also provide third party liability and additional protection for the contents of your narrowboat, as well as cover in the event of accidents or injuries.

Click on the button below to learn more about our specialist narrowboat insurance from Insure4Boats and get an instant online quote today.

 

best canalside pubs

 

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