We have plenty of great pubs in Essex but what about if you fancy going a little bit further out for your pint?
There are some fantastic pubs just outside of the county, which are well worth travelling that bit further for.
From beautiful country inns serving delicious food to pretty places by the water, there are some real hidden gems to discover if you’re happy to venture a few miles out for a trip with the family.
Don’t worry though, these aren’t too far away. You could still get a bus or train home in good time.
According to the latest coronavirus lockdown rules, up to six individuals are allowed to meet while following social distancing measures.
Each pub will have adapted their layouts and venues to adhere to the rules, so be sure to visit their website beforehand to check what the changes are.
The Dog and Duck
63 High Street, Linton, Cambridgeshire, CB21 4HS
What’s it like? What an attractive little pub. The Dog and Duck is set in an old inn, painted white with a traditional, thatched roof. It’s lovely in the summer and equally stunning in the winter – if it snows, it’s like a quintessential English village pub. It’s known for its homemade, fresh, local food and it stocks a good range of craft beers and real ales.
What do the reviews say? “What a great little gastro pub. I enjoyed the scallops and home make chicken and leek pie, all washed down with two different glasses of white wine. This place is a little gem.”
How far is it from Essex? 35 minutes from Great Dunmow.
At the moment, the pub is operating with gazebos, beach huts and tables in the car park and garden and advise visitors to book before they arrive.
57 St Peters Street, Duxford, Cambridge, CB22 4RP
What’s it like? Mario and Tracey took over The Duxford Plough two years ago and promised to keep it as a proper, traditional English pub. Inside it’s all old timbers and a crackling open fire. Home-made food is served six days, with a variety of roasts on Sundays. The Plough was first recorded as a pub back in 1851 and it has a place in history as airmen from nearby Duxford airfield used it as their local during WW2, in between flying spitfires and hurricanes.
What do the reviews say? “Lovely, quaint, old fashioned pub. One of the best Sunday lunches we’ve had for a long time.”
How far is it from Essex? 51 minutes from Chelmsford.
The Old Barge
The Folly, Hertford, SG14 1QD
What’s it like? This one is perfect for those who love the water. The Old Barge is found at the head of the River Lea and it’s set on the riverside. From the pub, you can watch the canal boats go by in a lovely relaxing setting. It’s popular with walkers and cyclists but everyone will be made welcome. Inside there’s lots of wood and a traditional feel. The menu is contemporary British and there’s a good range of real ales, lagers, ciders and wines.
What do the reviews say? “Lovely gem. Been to this pub a few times food is fab .puddings are amazing. Really something unique. The staff always friendly and polite.”
How far is it from Essex? 19 minutes from Harlow.
The inside dining area is for bookings only, and for the outside areas, the tables are first come first served for six individuals or less.
The Ramsholt Arms
Dock Road, Woodbridge, Suffolk, IP12 3AB
What’s it like? If you like a riverside view, this is a pub worth leaving Essex for. It’s set on the river and the large outside seating area and terrace means you can watch the boats go by at your leisure. It’s south facing too so gets lots of sun in the warmer months. The Arms serves freshly-caught seafood platters in the summer too. If you sit inside, try to grab a window seat so you can look at the lovely views across the water.
What do the reviews say? “A really, really lovely location with a beautiful view of the river and a gorgeous patio area. We will certainly be back!”
How far is it from Essex? 57 minutes from Colchester.
The Swan Inn at Lawshall
The Street, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, IP29 4QA
What’s it like? This pub bills itself as ‘everything that a country pub should be’. It’s set in an 18th-century thatched building which still has lots of period features. The family who run it moved here from Australia and are dedicated to making this pub the best it can be. The food is made using locally-sourced ingredients and it does a popular Sunday roast. There’s an attractive pub garden where children can play. The bar offers a good range of local Suffolk beers on tap all year round.
What do the reviews say? “I rarely write reviews, but it would be a great shame not to share this delightful establishment with the world. This is what pubs ought to be.”
How far is it from Essex? 44 minutes from Braintree.
Sweffling White Horse
Low Road, Sweffling, Saxmundham, Suffolk, IP17 2BB
What’s it like? It was named the East Anglia Pub of the Year by CAMRA in 2019 and with good reason. It always stocks a range of locally-brewed ales and ciders, as well as fairtrade and local wines. The Sweffling White Horse stands out because it’s heated entirely by wood – there’s a wood-burning stove in the lounge and a wood-fired range cooker which also heats the radiators. A standout feature is the rustic arbor in the garden which is lit by candles and hundreds of fairy lights in the evenings.
What do the reviews say? “Fantastic old school pub… proper beer and cider great people, fire on full whack, loved it, if you want a modern, heartless pub don’t go here…”
How far is it from Essex? 58 minutes from Colchester.
Sadly, the pub is not open as usual as they do not have enough space inside for social distancing, but their courtyard beer garden is available for small groups – up to six people – via booking. They also offer takeaway options for those who want to take the food home, eat in front of the pub or sit in the beer garden if they’ve made a booking.
They are, however, working on creating a ‘pop-up’ pub soon.
The Swan Inn
The Street, Monks Eleigh, Suffolk, IP7 7AU
What’s it like? A truly beautiful-looking pub in Suffolk. The Swan Inn has a pale yellow building with a thatched roof and lovely features inside like exposed beams and original pillars. It’s known for its great food and they source their ingredients from small and artisan producers in Suffolk where possible. The menus are seasonal using the freshest produce and they also serve a wide selection of traditional beers and wines.
How far is it from Essex? Just a 38-minute drive from Colchester.
What do the reviews say? “Great range of quality drinks including a selection of non alcoholic beers, super meals perfectly cooked specifically for us and served with kindness and care.
This pub actually delivers what all the others wish they could.”
Horsebridge Road, Whitstable, Kent, CT5 1BT
What’s it like? A popular seaside pub that’s very close to the water’s edge. The owners work hard to maintain a classic English pub feel, with a cosy, friendly atmosphere and quality pub food. It’s a traditional pub downstairs with a 50-seater restaurant upstairs, where dishes are created with the freshest local produce.
What do the reviews say? “Cracking lunch with a stunning view. The Pearson Arms looked good on its website but was even better in the flesh – not always the case. It’s in a great location a short stroll from the hurlyburly of the harbour.”
How far is it from Essex? 58 minutes from Grays.
The Three Chimneys
Hareplain Road, Biddenden, Ashford, Kent, TN27 8LW
What’s it like? This quaint pub has won lots of awards including the best county dining pub from The Good Pub Guide on several ocasions. The website rightly boasts that ‘once you step through the front door, dark oak beams, aged hops and a roaring fire in the winter great you, creating an atmosphere of warmth and relaxation’. The building dates back to 1420 and it’s been sympathetically extended. It’s bursting with history too. The food has an outstanding reputation and local produce is used.
What do the reviews say? “The building is delightful going back to 1420 with lots of rooms, interesting things to see especially the old woodwork, you could almost feel the presence of ‘things gone by’. Staff were delightful and caring, the menu simple but quite exciting. We loved it, it is another of my gems.”
How far is it from Essex? One hour from Grays.