With the leaves turning various shades of copper and amber and the weather turning cooler, autumn is a great time for us to dig out our warmer clothes and take our Border Terrier Tilly out for long weekend walks.
For me, a dog walk isn’t complete without a visit to a pub, either on the walk itself on the way home. Poor Tilly – she’s had to make herself comfortable on countless oak and flagstone pub floors while we quench our thirsts with an ale or cider (or lemonade for the driver) and indulge in some bar snacks.
Tilly doesn’t just get the visit the pub on her walks – we also try to go somewhere dog friendly when we take her along with us if we ever pop out for something to eat. That said, I sometimes wonder if she would be happier curled up in a ball at home asleep than out with us at yet another watering hole.
The great thing about living in the UK is we’re a nation of dog lovers, meaning that many pubs – and increasingly, restaurants and shops – are dog friendly. So there are loads of options wherever we go.
Tilly has accompanied us to many pubs and inns around the south of England. But it’s the pubs near where we live in the south of Hampshire that we return to again and again. Here are my top five dog-friendly pubs in Hants.
1. The Rockstone, Southampton
Situated on the junction between Rockstone Lane, with its quaint terraced cottages, and the hustle and bustle of Onslow Road, this pub is not only a handy place to pop into after a walk on Southampton Common or Riverside Park – it’s also a great place to stop by on a weekend pub crawl through Bevois Valley.
The bar area is U-shaped and carpeted, with lots of nooks and crannies for dogs – who are welcome throughout the pub – to find solace in. The bar features up to eight real ales at a time as well as several draught ciders and a wide selection of rums and other spirits. The food’s worth sampling too, especially the burgers.
Info: The Rockstone, 63 Onslow Road, Bevois Valley, Southampton, Hampshire, SO14 0JL. Tel: 02380 637256.
2. The Bat and Ball, Clanfield
The Bat and Ball is famous in cricket circles as the original clubhouse of the Hambledon Cricket Club – one of the most successful teams of the 1700s and early 1800s. The club moved its headquarters down the road, closer to the village of Hambledon, in 1782. But the cricket ground over the road from the pub remains.
As a result of its association with cricket, the pub is crammed with cricket memorabilia. It welcomes dogs in the bar area, where there are a couple of open fires for them to enjoy. The cricket field across the road is ideal for dogs to play a game of fetch when there’s no match on. There are also countless footpaths nearby with great views over the South Downs, which are perfect for a pre- or post-pub dog walk.
The Bat and Ball is a Fuller’s pub, so the ale selection is limited to the brewery’s own brews including the delicious London Pride. The pub does decent food.
Info: The Bat and Ball, Hyden Farm Ln, Clanfield, Waterlooville, Hampshire PO8 0UB. Tel: 023 9263 2692.
3. Turfcutters Arms, East Boldre near Brockenhurst
The village of East Boldre is in the heart of the New Forest, not far from Beaulieu and Brockenhurst. It’s in one of the large common parts of the National Park, so the surrounding area is a doggy paradise with miles of open heathland.
The Turfcutters is on East Boldre’s main street. But don’t expect a road full of the usual amenities you’d find in a village high street – the pub and a small petrol station are the only businesses that stand out on this quiet road.
So many pubs try their best to be homely. But the Turfcutters does this effortlessly. It’s divided into several smaller rooms, each with wooden floors and open fireplaces. There’s also a massive beer garden.
As with all of my dog-friendly pub recommendations, there’s good beer here and excellent food – the venison burger was particularly memorable when we first visited a few years ago.
Info: The Turfcutters Arms, East Boldre Road, East Boldre, Hampshire SO42 7WL. Tel: 01590 612331.
4. The Black Boy, Winchester
This is bit of an obvious one to recommend. But it’s a pub we find ourselves returning to again and again when we take Tilly for a walk into Winchester along the Itchen river, despite loads of other great dog-friendly pubs in Winchester.
It’s easy to spend several hours in the Black Boy exploring the amazing array of stuffed and mounted animals and other knick knacks dotted around the pub. Plus, there are loads of board games to play while your dog takes a nap under your table. The garden, while not as picturesque as some of the other pub gardens in Winch, is sheltered and comfortable all through the year if the weather’s fine.
There are always four or five local ales on tap here. The menu is simple but good value. I dare you to pop in on a Sunday lunchtime and avoid staying for a roast once you the smell of the cooking hits you.
5. The Wheatsheaf, Shedfield near Wickham
It’s one of three pubs owned by the Flower Pots brewery. It’s simple and unpretentious, and that’s how we like it. Various Flower Pots ales and the odd guest beer are served straight from the casks behind the bar, while the chalkboards display a variety of good-value home-cooked pub favourites such as lasagne and lamb curry. There are decent ciders available too.
The pub has two friendly dogs. (Tilly isn’t as friendly to them as they are to the her.) The Wheatsheaf also has an enclosed back garden.
Info: The Wheatsheaf Inn, Botley Road, Shedfield, Wickham, Hampshire, SO32 2JG. Tel: 01329 833024.