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It’s no secret that us Brits enjoy a trip to the pub. Whether we’re celebrating, socialising or drowning our sorrows, the pub is and always will be a British institution. As of 2012, there are around 49,400 public houses in the UK, almost 20,000 less than in the early 80’s. But let’s not get gloomy- there are still some treasured taverns to be found. If you’re tired of the local boozer and fancy a change of scenery, read our shortlist of the ten best pubs in Britain. We’ve scoured the internet to bring you some of the most interesting, historic and damn right quirky inns from all four corners of the British Isles, so raise a glass to the humble pub today with Sykes Cottages.
Supposedly established in 1189AD, Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem lays claim to the title of England’s oldest watering hole. The pub itself is half built into the soft sandstone wall beneath Nottingham’s Castle Rock, and legend has it that the Knights of the 12th Crusade stopped off here to wet their whistle before departing for the Holy Land.
Known locally as Nellies, this labyrinthine inn is the closest you’ll come to a step back in time at any British tavern. Lit dimly by the odd gas mantle and warmed by a clutch of open fires, The White Horse Inn is a Dickensian marvel tucked away within the cobbled back streets of the historic town of Beverley.
Renowned for its striking location at the foot of Glencoe in the Scottish Highlands, the Clachaig Inn has been a welcome pit stop for weary walkers for over three centuries. As well as inspiring mountain views, Clachaig also serves up a wealth of hearty Scottish fare, making it an excellent stop off point during a gruelling hill walk.
Regarded as the most ornate pub in England, the Philharmonic Dining Rooms, or The Phil, is a flamboyant Grade II listed public house featuring bags of Art Deco panache. Popular amongst Liverpool’s poets and all-round arty folk since the 60’s, the pub’s interior makes musical reference to the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, which stands directly opposite.
Offering commanding views over the Lake District fells, the Drunken Duck takes its name from the mishaps of the pub’s Victorian landlady, who accidentally spiked her duck’s feed with strong beer. Now free from inebriated wildfowl, the Drunken Duck remains one of the best pubs to enjoy a pint in Cumbria.
With its thatched roof, flagstone floor and spectacular location on the banks of Restronguet Creek in South Cornwall, Pandora Inn may just be the prettiest tavern on our shortlist. Serving Cornish food and drink for nigh on five hundred years, this Grade II listed inn is the ideal spot for pint on a sunny summer’s day.
Sporting a stack of out of date board games, maritime furnishings and an ensemble of mysterious fishermen, Ye Dolphin is great if you want to hear the tall tales of a scurvy sea-dog. The pub serves up a good selection of traditional ales and plays host to regular sea shanty sing-alongs, making it well worth a visit on your next trip to the Yorkshire Coast.
Graced by the likes of James Joyce and reputably one of Robin Hood’s favourite drinking dens, The Brazen Head was established in 1198, making it not only one of the oldest pubs, but one of the oldest companies in the world. Not content with simply providing punters with some of the Emerald Isle’s finest ale, the tavern is also a renowned music venue, with both traditional and contemporary musicians taking to the stage seven nights a week.
Thought to be one of the only surviving ‘cave bars’ in Europe, Marsden Grotto is a fascinating place to enjoy a wee snifter. The pub features a large bar dug directly into the cliffs with a zigzag staircase from top to bottom (don’t worry, there’s a lift too), as well as a heated terrace overlooking the beach.
A hidden gem with a mighty claim to fame, Ye Olde White Hart is reputably the place where Parliamentarians plotted to keep King Charles I out of Hull at the start of the English Civil War in 1642. The pub is awash with relics which support this claim, including a preserved human skull which peers down on punters from atop the bar- spooky.
Have we got your taste buds a’ tinglin’? Treat yourself to a cottage holiday this year for your chance to sink a pint at one (or more) of these delightful British pubs. There’s nothing better than grazing in the sun with a tankard of real ale, so why not do it in style with a self-catering holiday in the UK with Sykes Cottages.
Or perhaps you’re outraged by our pick of the pubs? If so, we’d love to hear which inns you hold dear. Send us your suggestions on Facebook or Twitter and we’ll endeavour to pay them a visit ourselves!