The story so far.....share your thoughts and photos about The Ridgeway's pubs to help us create a community Top 50!

Every pub has stories to tell and there are plenty pubs along The Ridgeway to entertain visitors. No less than five ghosts haunt Avebury’s pub The Red Lion, situated in the middle of the stone circle, and the blacksmith God Wayland is said to have had a pint at the White Horse pub near Wayland Smithy! Another pub with interesting clientele is The Plough near Princes Risborough which has hosted some of the world’s most powerful people because it is the nearest pub to the Prime Minister’s country home Chequers in Buckinghamshire. Prime Minister David Cameron will probably always remember one visit where he mistakenly left his daughter behind, much to the amusement of the press and public!

All the pubs along the Trail are listed on our interactive map as well as cafes, farmshops and more – tick ‘Food and Drink’ to take your pick for your pub walk or ride. Supporting local businesses is a way for Ridgeway visitors to encourage sustainable tourism – rural pubs are a key part of the English landscape and community but unfortunately a growing number are at risk of closure. Read on below….

Banner image: Red Lion in Avebury village.

It’s like stepping back in time when visiting pubs along The Ridgeway because many are historic buildings. Some are protected as listed buildings, such as the 17th century pubs now known as the Eyston Arms in East Hendred in Oxfordshire and The Lions of Bledlow in Buckinghamshire. A small number have listed interiors too, including The Bell in Aldworth, Berkshire, which has a large inglenook fireplace and Victorian furnishings that were made at the village blacksmith’s/carpentry shop run by the same family as the pub.

The pub, as we know it, came about after other, older forms of hospitality – the alehouse, tavern and inn which date back to the Middle Ages. Taverns sold wine and food to the well-off, whilst alehouses sold ale, and later beer, plus simple food, to the lower classes. The inn was a house for accommodating travellers and there is a striking example at the Wiltshire end of The Ridgeway – The Waggon and Horses in Beckhampton (see image gallery). Situated on the A4 that was once the main road between Bristol and London, it was an important stop for travellers on horseback or stagecoach. It is said that the shingle walls are built from smashed sarsens from Avebury’s stone circle and the writer Charles Dickens mentions the building in his novel “Pickwick Papers”.

Another pub with interesting cultural heritage is the Red Lion at Whiteleaf in Buckinghamshire (see image gallery above) which features in a painting by the famous war artist Paul Nash. At that time, several artists and writers were living in the village and surrounding area, and so the pub made a convenient meeting place…..who will you meet on your next visit to The Ridgeway?

Notes: More information about The Ridgeway’s artists, writers, local food and drink, historic buildings, Chequers and sarsen stones is available in other Top 50 entries (not all Top 50 entries will be available until end of December 2023).

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