Five great autumn pub walks in the UK with the National Trust

Five great autumn pub walks in the UK with the National Trust


There’s something to be said for combining a countryside stomp with a visit to a classic British pub. Perhaps it’s the lure of an old inn’s crackling open fire following a rural ramble or trek along a dramatic coastal path? Maybe it’s the restorative whip of an autumn breeze, or the quiet joy we experience from simply being outside, safe in the knowledge that a warm and hearty meal awaits in a cosy tavern not far away?

These five great pub walks are especially magical in the weeks before winter. What’s more, they all either start on, or cross, land cared for by the National Trust. So, grab your chunky scarf and lace-up your walking boots – here’s where to head for your next autumnal afternoon stroll.



Spyway - Dorset

Walk overview: This Jurassic Coast classic traces a dramatic and storied cliffscape around the delightful Purbeck Island, from Dancing Ledge to St Aldhelm’s Head, where you can scan the sea for passing dolphins during the autumn months. The legendary walker’s pub, the Square and Compass makes a great pit stop offering cracking views, brews, open fires and a menu of locally made pies and pasties. Return along the Priest’s Way, via a quarry where you can see fossilised dinosaur footprints frozen in time.

Sights and highlights: South West Coast Path; dinosaur footprints; cliffs and sea views; Priest’s Way

Distance: 8 miles (13km)

Time to pub: 2.5-3 hours / Walking time: 4 hours

Pub: Square and Compass, BH19 3LF

The Square and Compass Pub

Square and Compass (Credit: Alamy)



The Seven Sisters – East Sussex

Walk overview: From a famous smuggling village, walk one of the most recognisable sections of Britain’s coast, the rollercoaster route over the Severn Sisters to Birling Gap and Belle Tout Lighthouse, where you can wave at Beachy Head before heading inland to the iconic pub: The Tiger Inn. This destination pub has been serving smugglers, soldiers, hikers and bikers since the 15th century. Overlooking a village green, there are outdoor tables for sunny days while inside the main bar is full of character from stone floors to wooden beams.

Sights and highlights: Stunning coastal views; Seven Sisters Country Park / South Downs National Park; wildflowers and butterflies

Distance: 6 miles (10km)

Time to pub: 2 hours / Walking time: 2.5 hours

Pub: The Tiger Inn, BN20 0DA

The Tiger Inn

The Tiger Inn (Credit: Alamy)



Hardwick Park – Derbyshire

Walk overview: Explore 400-year-old Hardwick Hall estate, strolling past ponds and through wonderful woodlands where conkers and sweet chestnuts festoon the floor in autumn. Following a seasonal stomp, why not enjoy a libation in The Hardwick Inn’s sun-catching pub courtyard? Dating back to the 1500s, this grand National-Trust owned sandstone pub welcomes walkers – although a sign politely requests muddy boots be left in the entrance hallway to protect the antique carpet.

Sights and highlights: Rural footpaths; lakes; wildlife

Distance: 4.5 miles (7.2km)

Time to pub: 2 hours / Walking time: 3 hours

Pub: The Hardwick Inn, S44 5QJ

The Hardwick Inn

The Hardwick Inn (Credit: Patrick Kinsella)



Ysgyryd Fawr – Monmouthshire

Walk overview: Discover the split summit of one of South Wales’ most recognisable and storied mountains, Ysgyryd Fawr, located on the eastern edge of the Black Mountains and Brecon Beacons, and topped by the remains of a medieval church and Iron Age hill fort. Descend through farm fields to The Skirrid Inn, reputedly Wales’ oldest and most haunted pub. Its history stretches back to 1110 – formerly a courthouse and place of execution where 182 people were hanged in the stairwell. Marks are visible on a beam and a noose dangles as a macabre reminder. Following a pint and bite to eat, take a stroll back through woodlands and the gap in ‘the hill that shivered’.

Sights and highlights: Mountain peak; Beacons Way; stunning views; steep climb

Distance: 8 miles (13km)

Time to pub: 2 hours / Walking time: 4 hours

Pub: The Skirrid Inn, NP7 8DH

The Skirrid Inn

The Skirrid Inn (Credit: Patrick Kinsella)



Formby – Merseryside

Walk overview: Delight in wonderful woodlands full of scampering red squirrels, before walking through historic asparagus fields and one of Europe’s best sand dune habitats to reach the beach, where tides deposit treasure and reveal secrets including prehistoric footprints. Return via a nature reserve and The Freshfield pub, which has won multiple CAMRA awards and offers visitors a bright and breezy atmosphere. Located a few roads back from the beach, this pit stop is a regular weekend watering hole for walkers exploring the Formby and Ainsdale coast and woodlands.

Sights and highlights: Sandy beaches and dunes; woodlands; wildlife; prehistoric footprints

Distance: 5.5 miles (9km)

Time to pub: 2 – 2.5 hours / Walking time: 3 – 3.5 hours

Pub: The Freshfield, L37 7BD

The Freshfield Pub

The Freshfield (Credit: Patrick Kinsella)


Discover100 Great Pub Walks book cover more adventurous pub walks, whatever the season, in 100 Great Pub Walks by Patrick Kinsella. It is available to buy online and from all good bookshops. All walks featured in the book provide a full walk itinerary, route map and directions.