We all have our own personal wish list when it comes to the perfect pub - real ales on tap and excellent food, cast-iron fireplaces and bijou fittings, good value menus and family-friendly atmosphere. But when summer comes around there is no doubt what tops most people’s list; a great garden or attractive outside space.
As befits a town that boasts so many extraordinary green spaces, Swindon is full of pubs with great gardens or patios where punters can enjoy a refreshing summer drink in the sunshine. So, let’s raise a glass to ten pubs that come into their own in the summertime.
The Plough on The Hill, Marlborough Road. Located at the beginning of the main road between Swindon and Marlborough, The Plough on The Hill features in Alfred Williams’ celebrated book ‘Villages of the White Horse’ and used to be a centre for ‘rustic sports’ including back-swording, wrestling and bareback prize-fighting. These days it serves some of the best home-cooked food in Wiltshire which can be enjoyed in the lovely garden with views of Liddington Hill.
The Runner, Wootton Bassett Road. The recently refurbished pub serves good food all day and offers parents the chance to dine al fresco next to a rolling stream while their children run around to their heart’s content in the large garden and adventure play area.
Hall & Woodhouse, Peglars Way. The latest addition to Swindon’s ample range of hostelries, Hall & Woodhouse has been earning rave reviews for its menu and the quirky canal-themed interiors, but it’s the long outside terrace overlooking the Wilts & Berks Canal that pulls in the punters on a summer’s day.
The Kingsdown, Upper Stratton. The Kingsdown has sat proudly in Stratton St Margaret, Swindon for over 170 years. Just a stone's throw from Arkell's Brewery, on a warm summer's day there are plenty of tables with or without umbrellas, plus a new terrace and shaded marquee area perfect for taking cover for drinking when the temperature's rising.
The Sun Inn, Marlborough Road. It’s all about location, location, location for The Sun Inn. Not only does it have its own large garden and children’s play area, but it’s situated right next to Coate Water Country Park, a great place for a summer’s day out. You might even catch a live band playing outdoors in the thatched shelter.
Mackenzies, Wood Street. An Old Town fixture for more than twenty-five years, Mackenzies’ long outdoor terrace is where Swindon’s young, free and single like to mingle to compare suntans and summer outfits. If you’re already taken, don’t worry – you can still enjoy food and good music all day with your nearest and dearest!
The Dockle Farmhouse, Bridge End Road. Large, family-friendly pub with an equally large garden, the former Greenbridge public house comprises the old Dockle farmhouse, built in 1800, and two extensions, added in the 1980s. It’s a Wetherspoon pub which means you get value-for-money food and drink, and in this case, lots of vintage photos of Swindon on the walls.
The GW, Station Road. Directly opposite the train station (hence the name, GW for Great Western), the sun-trapped terrace is the perfect place to enjoy a swift pint before departing on the 18.30 to Paddington or returning from a day out in nearby Bristol or Bath.
The Clifton, Clifton Street. This long-established pub on the edge of Old Town is the quintessential local, “where everybody knows your name”. A recent major revamp includes a secluded patio at the back which is the perfect place to soak up the sun and enjoy a relaxing drink.
Manor Farm, Haydon Wick. Set in a restored 17th century farmhouse, Manor Farm’s exposed oak beams could keep you inside, but the beer garden will tempt you out into the sun. The pub prides itself on its “superior comfort food”, with gourmet burgers and rich puddings.