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Country pubs to enjoy this winter

Winchester College
Winchester College

Our Food and Drink ambassador, Emma Caulton, lives in Winchester and loves to discover and write about local produce and independent businesses. She writes for Hampshire Life magazine and Hampshire Fare, the county food and drink group. Here she discusses a seasonal favourite: the country pub in winter.

Winchester is surrounded on all sides by countryside – which means a country pub is never far away. At this time of year, with days sharp cold and skies fresh bright, the dream of a bracing walk, followed by something tasty in an inn, preferably with open fire, tempts. Here are just three suggestions in the Winchester district.

Northbrook arms

Over the past three years The Northbrook Arms in East Stratton, a delightful ‘estate’ village eight miles north of Winchester, has undergone a stunning transformation into a contemporary country inn. The owners have retained its character while adding a stylish courtyard extension. There’s a big focus on top notch pub food featuring lots of Hampshire produce, plus pints and spirits from local breweries and distilleries. Out front the beer garden on the green is popular with dog walkers and cyclists, particularly on warmer days. To work up an appetite, there’s a circular walk through woodland and farmland to Brown Candover and back of around 6 3/4 miles.

cosy pubs in winter

The Crown Inn in Bishop’s Waltham is a charming 16th century coaching inn complete with big heavy beams, panelled rooms, roaring fires in exposed brick fireplaces, and armchairs. Locals, families, walkers and dogs are welcome. The menu focuses on classic pub fare, including steaks and pies, using quality local produce. For walks, Bishop’s Waltham’s palace ruins are worth exploring. However, numerous footpaths radiate out from this historic and quaint market town, while the Pilgrim’s Trail passes through, running from Winchester to the coast at Portsmouth.

The Crown Inn

The Thomas Lord at West Meon was one of the very first pubs in the area to feature a truly local menu. Today, as part of Uphams Inns (a small collection of relaxed and individual pubs), it continues to be a comfortable country inn with log fires and deep leather armchairs. Local drinks include small batch roasted coffee and craft ales while menus range from brunch, bar snacks and seasonal set lunches to afternoon tea, sharing platters and small and large plates. For walkers, cyclists and families, the Meon Valley Trail starts just metres away and runs through beautiful countryside for 11 miles down to Wickham.

For other cosy pub recommendations, read our previous blog.

The Winchester Ambassadors are a group of volunteers who enjoy sharing their passion for their city. They were assembled to provide visitors with a local’s view of the city and its attractions. Their thoughts, insights and tips are independent and are not paid for. The Winchester Ambassadors are not affiliated with any of the brands or businesses mentioned in their posts or endorsed by Winchester City Council.