12 cosy local Pubs to visit in December
I wrote this post just before Christmas 2016 and here it comes again – so this is a reminder of some lovely welcoming pubs to try out over the festive season
We asked you for your recommendations for the finest pubs to snuggle up in and you didnt let us down. I’m more of a chestnuts roasting on an open fire kind a gal, rather than jack frost nipping at my toes. In fact the only ice I’m really enamoured toward at this time of year is the kind that plinks into my G&T Daaaahling. However one exception is this scenario…a winter walk, followed by fine fare and drink, sat alongside my designated driver. Bliss. We received lots of recommendations but these are the top 10 pubs (plus one bar) that are currently your favourites Mudsters. They cover villages and towns of all sizes and there’s something for all of us. We really are a lucky bunch in Northamptonshire aren’t we?
The Chequered Skipper, The Green, Ashton, nr Oundle, Peterborough, Northamptonshire, PE8
Just off the beaten track, and only a couple of miles from Oundle this lovely thatched pub mixes tradition with a light modern contemporary touch. The kitchen produces some of the best local grub we’ve ever had in a pub OR a restaurant and the drinks are served by lovely welcoming staff. Expect lots of locals and a few business people depending on what time of day you visit.
The Sun Inn, 9 High St, Hardingstone, NN4 7BT
Mr Muddy didnt want to leave this pub. The Sun Inn is a traditional pub to look at but it has a really vibrant atmosphere, and although it serves its local village community brilliantly well, it seems that everyone is welcome – especially at this time of year. As any good village local, this pub has a traditional feel to the décor, with a slight modern twist, in keeping with the times and is the perfect place to enjoy a drink, relax and unwind with the papers. And now winter is here the traditional fire places are lit and there’s a choice of ‘Whiskey tapas’ on offer – which is another reason why Mr Muddy didnt want to leave. Oh – and the bar staff are brilliant!!
The Pheasant, Keyston, Huntingdon PE28 0RE
OK, OK, I admit that this Muddy favourite is just a few hundred yards over the border – just a mile or two past Thrapston, Stanwick and Raunds, but my oh my what a cosy Christmas you can have in this Pub. Truth be told it feels quite Chrsitmassy on a wet bank holiday in August but that might be because the staff are so friendly and it makes a visit here special. The Pub is known well for it’s excellent food, so if you want to eat in the restaurant, book early, and if you want to cosy up on some delicious bar snacks and take advantage of a brilliant wine list then beat a retreat to their doors soon. You won’t be disappointed.
The Red Lion, Brafield-on-the-Green, NN7 1BP
We all know that Northamptonshire has some lovely villages, only a stones throw from the busy A-roads and I’d definitely say that this Red Lion is a well kept secret – hiding away behind Great Billing and the A45. The Red Lion lies at the very heart of Brafield-on-the-Green. The pub has a traditional feel to it, but actually it’s a delicious bistro pub dining experience with the intimacy and charm of a traditional country retreat. The Food is really great and I loved the wine list, and the staff were really knowledgable and attentive.
The Swan at Lamport, Harborough Road, Lamport, NN6 9EZ
The view from The Swan out across the Northamptonshire countryside is breathtaking, not least as there are very few vantage points in our undulating, but not hilly locality. And after that we pop in to the restored and refurbished pub & grill which offers contemporary design, fine wines, local cask ales and traditional British food, home made from the fresh local ingredients.
The Four Pears, Bedford Road, Little Houghton, NN7 1AB
Now here is an interesting and heartwarming story for this time of year. Four local couples (aka Four Pairs, aka Four Pears) shared a vision to rescue a community pub so that their friends and neighbours could continue to enjoy it, and each other. Not only did they rescue it in 2010 but they’ve made a mighty fine business of it, and this pub is so cosy and friendly you might consider upping sticks and moving to this lovely village too. Incidentally, one of the owners, “our Dick” has a real twinkle in his eye and is an excellent host with a penchant for good red wine – just ask the locals.
The Cromwell Cottage, 1 High Street, Kislingbury, NN7 4AG
It’s like this. This Pub is a fantastic year round venue. It has wide open spaces, it’s super friendly, but there are also nooks, crannies, contemporary design and all those other good things. And The Cromwell Cottage also has intriguing secrets and was once known as ‘the restaurant over the bridge’, having played host to various shenanigans over the years, most notably when Oliver Cromwell used it as a hideout from those longhaired Cavaliers. Seems like anything goes then.
The Brampton Halt, Pitsford Road, Chapel Brampton, NN6 8BA
My golly gosh, what better reward for those winter walks down the old Railway lines over at Brampton, than to end up in a Muddy favourite Pub, The Brampton Halt, is an idyllic country pub located in the quaint village of Chapel Brampton. Given the nearby Northampton and Lamport Railway (a steam and heritage diesel operated tourist railway) this pub is always a busy, with lots of Northamptonshire visitors mingling with the locals.
The Red Lion, Main St, East Haddon, NN6 8BU
Again, another lovely pub to hideaway during the cold weather, but this pub boasts a truly remarkable menu, and it’s no surprise that the pub also has a culinary school attached to it. But if not in the mood to learn – just simply educate your tastebuds with the delicious food created by The Red Lion’s brilliant kitchen staff at work. Their latest menu focuses on serving great British food cooked using locally sourced ingredients and they are very very good at it.
The Kings Head, Church Street, Wadenhoe, PE8 5ST
We stumbled across this pub a few summers ago and loved its location and the the owners, who are just lovely. However, Mr Muddy loves this Pub so much that he’s willing to sit outside with the dog even as temperatures drop – just because he loves the setting, the beer and the team there so much. Situated in the unspoilt village of Wadenhoe,and nestling alongside the picturesque River Nene, this 17th century Thatched Inn has been serving locals and travellers for over 400 years. Expect delicious and hearty Traditional Pub Fayre plus of course real ales, ciders, spirits and a selection of wines from around the world to suit all tastes and pockets (one of the best Sunday lunches around).
The Red Lion, Cranford 42 High St, Kettering NN14 4AA
It’s been a time of great change for The Red Lion in Cranford, as it’s undergone a bit of a transformation of late. With the new owners and Cranford residents Mark and Emma Robinson in situ, they’ve put some love back into the pub. They’ve put their heart and soul into fulfilling the pub’s potential, with some investment in the bricks and mortar but also bringing in a new dynamic and enthusiastic team. Muddy also thinks that they’ve also managed to retain all that was so great about this village pub. It’s a good starting and ending point for all the local walks and the conservatory restaurant is a really lovely place to while away an afternoon. There’s a brilliant food offering, but also there is a really cosy bar area too (that has Jenga and other board games for hours of fun). It’s a lovely hideaway.
The Hopping Hare, 18 Hopping Hill Gardens, Duston, NN5 6PF
Oh, you know that feeling? The one when you’ve finished your hopping, you’ve dealt with the hustle and bustle of Queensgate shopping centre and you deserve to put your feet up? Treat yourself and head to the Hopping Hare. It’s not too far from Northampton Town centre and it offers a sanctuary to dine, stay or meet up and relax with friends, family or colleagues. It’s a really welcoming but sophisticated bar and it’s got to be on your list this year.