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Near London: country pub with a walk, near train station

Hello,

I'll be in London in late April with my father (mid-70s). We'd like to head out of town for a day, possibly a weekend, for a country walk. Here are the ideal criteria:

- Excellent game-oriented food
- Great selection of local real ales (hopefully some from Marble)
- In or near a charming village
- In the middle of a circular walk based at a train station (or a point-to-point walk). Walk should be no more than about eight miles.
- Less than 90 minutes by train from central London

On previous trips I've gone to Aldbury (wasn't impressed by the Greyhound), the Pot Kiln (great!) and the Sportsman (event better!). But I'd like to try something new. I've been let down by recommendations from the good pub guide and thought I'd see if any chowhounders have ideas! Thanks!

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  1. Hand & Flowers in Marlow, though probably not so much game in April. It is at the more formal end of pub food. You can walk along the Thames Path to Marlow from wherever is convenient, e.g., Henley.

    http://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/thames...

    2 Replies
    1. re: deansa

      This looks good but I fear may be a budgetary stretch. Plus we are likely to be grubby from walking. Anything on the slightly more casual side?

      1. re: juniorworm

        I've never been, but Orwell's at Shipley nearby is rated highly. You could walk from the bustling town Centre of Reading along the Thames to Henley, diverting to Orwells for lunch. But that's more like 9 miles.

    2. You could take the train to Windsor and walk there and to Eton. I'm not sure how far it is in miles to Bray, but the Hinds Head pub there is not formal at all and Bray is a pretty village to walk around.

      Another idea is to take the train to Dorking. You can get to the National Trust site, Polesden Lacey, very easily, and it's a very pretty place for a long walk. In that area is also Box Hill (quite a climb up though) and you could eat at The Running Horses in Mickleham, which is right down the road. It has very good food and that entire area is very charming.

      http://www.therunninghorses.co.uk/

      2 Replies
      1. re: zuriga1

        Great! The Dorking option looks about perfect - thank you!

        1. re: juniorworm

          That's my part of the world... hope it works out for you. It's an easy train ride from either Victoria or Waterloo.

      2. It's been a long time since I've lived down there, so I can't make any recommendations, but, as mentioned above, April isn't really a good time for game.

        You could have a look at the Harden's guide for places to eat - I often use it when looking for somewhere when we're on the road or going for a walk.

        1. I had a great lunch at the Kings Arms at Hampton Court. It's not exactly the countryside but there's the gardens at the Palace, the river, and Bushy Park so plenty of walking. East Molesey could possibly be described as a charming village...

          My roast pork belly with apple and potato rosti was delicious and had perfect crackling. The boyfriend's beef cheek and oxtail stew was thick and sticky and had good suet dumplings on top. His father had the pie of the day which looked homemade and was gone before I could request a taste! There was the usual pub food like fish and chips, but it seemed mostly to be quite heartily meat-oriented.

          Not sure about the real ale situation but the men in our party had Tangle Foot.

          1 Reply
          1. re: gembellina

            +1 for Hampton Court. I was there many years ago, and it sounds just as wonderful as I recall.

          2. Really good to see The Pot Kiln (near Newbury) mentioned. One very good food pub that flies under the radar screen is the Red Lion in Wiltshire (http://www.redlionfreehouse.com/pages...) - although it now boasts a Michelin star.

            It is on the edge of Salisbury Plain so some great countryside - I have cycled around there but not walked. Nearest rail station is Chippenham but it may be a little too far. Its also not too far from Stonehenge (on the back-way to Bath) so good for those touring.

            The owners/chefs met whilst cooking at Per Se in NYC and have had stints at Martin Berasategui in San Sebastian, and Chez Bruce in London. I ate there soon after it first opened and loved the food and the true pub feeling - that was a few years ago and pre-star so hopefully it has only got better.

            4 Replies
            1. re: PhilD

              We may well do a day trip to Hampton Court, so thanks for the Kings Arms recommendation. The Red Lion looks fantastic but I'm not sure how we'd get there. Given our transport constraints The Running Horses seems the best option.

              1. re: PhilD

                AH! I see that there is a train to Pewsey, which is only 5-6 miles from The Red Lion. So we could walk that easily. I am feeling a bit torn. The menu at The Red Lion looks more interesting than at The Running Horses. But The Running Horses is an easier/shorter/cheaper trip and the walking around there looks far more interesting (based on a assessment of the satellite imagery on Google Maps). Any thoughts on the merits of one trip vs. the other?

                Thanks again for all the help!

                Mike

                1. re: juniorworm

                  Hampton Court is nice, but it's a pretty urban area. Even in the parks you don't really feel that far out of town in my experience.

                  Pewsey is a long way out and there's normally only a train every two hours. I don't think the walk to the Red Lion will be particularly scenic - just walking along an A road. If you are going to Pewsey, I'd recommend heading north a little, then walking along the very pretty avon & kennet canal, then maybe getting a taxi back to the red lion.

                  1. re: deansa

                    I agree Pewsey maybe to far - although the food is very good. Another option is Cambridge, I know it's not true countryside but there are really wonderful walks especially along the backs and then along the river to Maddingly - no idea what the food food options are like these days but it has some great restaurants like Midsummer House

              2. I just took a look at the recent reviews on Trip Advisor for The Running Horses and it looks like there's been a change in chefs and a decline in food quality, so am now leaning to The Red Lion.

                1 Reply
                1. re: juniorworm

                  I went and looked at Trip Advisor having reading what you saw there. Interesting how varied the reviews are, but I tend to agree with you that The Red Lion is probably a better choice. In fact, it looks so nice a place to stay and eat that we'll try to have a weekend there this Spring.