As summer approaches we can’t help but let our minds wander to the many fine beer gardens available in this lovely part of the world.
Accidentally stumbling across a pub’s secret-garden on a warm day is of course a wonderful experience, but if you want to make the most of your Watermark trip a bit of pre-planning and advance booking will put your mind at ease, especially in the busy summer months when competition for an al-fresco table is strong.
The pandemic’s restrictions have meant that many pubs refurbished their outdoor spaces so you’ll be absolutely spoiled for choice.
Here’s a shortlist of our favourite Cotswold beer gardens:
1. The Lamb Inn, Crawley
A very bohemian, tiered courtyard garden awaits you at The Lamb Inn near Witney.
Sheepskin rugs, outdoor sofas and hanging lanterns make this a very civilised spot for a jug of Pimm’s. The eclectic exterior decor might convince you you’re in Bali not Blighty!
We visited on a glorious summer’s day and the bamboo canopy was a welcome relief from the midday heat. The food here is excellent and the clientele was a happy mixture of young families out to lunch and couples with cocktails. With outdoor heaters you’d be comfortable here well after the evening chill descends.
2. The Radnor Arms, Coleshill
In the quaint Natural Trust village of Coleshill lies the Radnor Arms – an idyllic spot for a post-stroll supper. The chefs here use organic veg from the fields of Coleshill Organic Veg Farm that are right next to the pub, so the journey from farm to fork is satisfyingly short. Meat and dairy products are from small artisan producers, and you can choose from an excellent range of beer and cider from local breweries.
The outdoor area has picnic benches and a firepit to stave off nightfall shivers, although the pub’s interior is so delightful you might be better off heading there for last orders.
3. The Woolpack Inn, Slad
Everyone knows a pint tastes better after a hike, so if a pub on a walk is what you’re looking for the Woolpack Inn is a great choice.
This tiny pub has a beautiful beer garden tucked into the Slad Valley. A circular walk from Main Street takes you through the Frith Wood Nature Reserve, onto Laurie Lee Wood with views of Stroud and the Forest of Dean, and back to the pub for that well-earned drink.
Cider with Rosie author Laurie Lee was a patron here, and so there’s plenty of memorabilia inside to peruse while you order.
If you’re lucky you might time your visit with the Woolpack’s Summer music festival.
4. The Old Boathouse, South Cerney
Just a stone’s throw from your lodge is The Old Boathouse on the waterpark in South Cerney. Being able to walk out to dinner is one of those rare treats that makes a holiday so special!
The Old Boathouse is a modern eatery serving classic English dishes. The pared-back lakeside deck is an ideal spot from which to watch the wildlife.
5. The Holford Arms, Tetbury
Head here for a pint in the sunshine after a long walk around Westonbirt Arboretum. The Holford Arms is situated within 8 acres of countryside with its own kitchen gardens, cider orchards, poly-tunnels, and vineyard. Their ever-changing specials board reflects which fruit, veg and herbs are growing seasonally, so expect good grub!
Naturally there’s plenty of outdoor space here, plus a covered terrace strung with fairy lights in case of drizzle.
The pub won a Gold Award at Sawday’s England and Wales Pub of the Year for Local, Seasonal & Organic Produce 2018 – 2019.
6. The Wheatsheaf Inn, Northleach
The Weatsheaf is the kind of pub to bring an American tourist to because the well-kept cottage gardens here couldn’t be more English! The quaint 17th-century coaching inn is clad in Virginia creeper and inside it’s oozing with unpretentious luxury and heritage. The menu is excellent – it’s known as one of the best restaurants in the Cotswolds – with lots of game and seafood dishes as well as a good vegan offering.
The tiered gardens have been lovingly designed with perfumed planters, blankets and parasols – the perfect spot to enjoy a chilled bottle of rosé and escape the sun under dappled shade.