Oi — put that orange jumper away; summer isn’t over yet, damn it! With the lacklustre season we’ve had, you can bet your bottom dollar we’ll be enjoying every ounce of sunlight September throws our way. Sure, we’ll be dragged kicking and screaming into the colder months at some point, but as long as the sun’s around, find us in a pub garden: glass of wine in each hand, sunnies on. Pack a cardy if you must.
But where to soak up the last of the sun, you ask? Whether you want your green space near a river, meadow, fields, village or city, we’ve scoured Bucks and Oxon for the best in show. Postpone the crumbles until next month, muster the girls, and bag a table at one of these alfresco hot spots.
The Beetle and Wedge, Moulsford
After a complete refurbishment inside and out, this riverside pub has been practically peacocking its new look, and for good reason. The menu features gastropub favourites alongside more adventurous options – lamb rump, lamb harissa spring roll, mushrooms Bourguignon, spiced aubergine yoghurt anyone? Before or after lunch you can always hit the water and take one of their boats for a spin. The eight-seater comes with the skipper but you’re free to captain the hybrid pedal/electric boat yourself. The Beetle and Wedge is taking bookings for inside only at the minute, so look alive if you want to get a good riverside seat.
Bottle and Glass Inn, Binfield
The Bottle and Glass has gone all out on its outdoor offering with the rustic-fabulous Burger Barn serving beef from the much lauded English Farm near Henley, famous for its longhorn cattle. There’s also the Horsebox, which is Dobbin-free and instead offers snacks, soup, sarnies, burgers and hot drinks, Weds – Sun 8am-4pm. Tables are available to book both inside and outside.
The Nag’s Head, Abingdon
Where better to escape the world than holed up in a pub on an island? Here it is – serving up alfresco meals on the terrace. There’s a fun grazing board concept here where you choose from deli delights alongside wood-fired flatbreads, then follow it up with a pizza, burger, or something from the grill. Perfect when washed down with rosé wine (so we hear). The Nag’s Head also offers proper rustic grub in the pub, and fine dining in the restaurant. For the social butterflies among you, booking is required for parties of more than 8.
The Crown, Granborough
This village gastropub has an outside kitchen – talk about al fresco living. It’s also family friendly with a climbing frame and kids menu with more than just a token pasta pesto dish. Food is served from 12 noon Tues-Sun with a choice of tables in the garden or the lovely sun-trap terrace.
The Bull on Bell Street, Henley
This Henley institution has always been one for the after work drinkies crowd and those ooops-is-it-midnight-already? nights. Thankfully it also has one of the biggest beer gardens in Henley so you can soak up the last of the sun in the verdant, fairy-light strewn area.
Jacobs Inn, Wolvercote
Random fact of the day: we once interviewed Loose Women‘s Saira Khan here. She lives nearby and it’s her favourite spot. I can see why – the garden is wonderfully quirky, complete with battered Chesterfields, table football, deckchairs and little piggies and hens running around. And if you bore of all that, it’s on the edge of Port Meadow. Jacobs Inn serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner everyday.
The Black Boy, Oving
Fancy amazing views with your G&T? The Black Boy had a makeover during the 2020 lockdown to update its back garden, plus they’ve handily upgraded the Wi-Fi so that signal reaches across the entire lawn (ideal for a change of scene for those still WFH). Spend five minutes enjoying the pretty-as-a-picture village of Oving while you’re there, they filmed the original Hovis ads there!
The Boxing Hare, Swerford
One of my favourite pubs, this gastro gem in North Oxfordshire nestled between Chipping Norton and Great Tew boasts some of the best pub food in the county and – bonus! – has a lovely large garden to the rear with views out to open countryside. Note that Tuesdays are temporarily closed for lunch and supper, but you can enjoy their smashing menu in a tented terrace area with heating (sigh, if we must) and festoon lighting every other day of the week.
The Stag & Huntsman, Hambleden
The Hambleden Valley in Bucks has been declared one of the best places to live in the Southeast by The Sunday Times, so what better time to visit this pub’s pretty terrace and beer garden with handy outdoor bar? Don’t miss steak night, on every Wednesday.
The Maytime Inn, Asthall
This Cotswolds cracker, 10 minutes from Burford, has a glorious patio, garden, al fresco bar and even a pétanque pitch. It’s also super dog-friendly so your furball and the kids can play while you work your way through the extensive gin menu. 140 options? I’m always up for a challenge.
The Full Moon, Hawridge
Nestled in the South Bucks countryside, close to Chesham and a stone’s throw from the Herts border, you’ll find this unpretentious and popular local pub. You’re in prime family striding, dog walking country here and the large garden, rural position and jaw-droppingly close windmill are the wow factors here. Work up your appetite and enjoy your lunch looking onto the common.
The Three Oaks, Gerrards Cross
Admittedly more restaurant than pub, this Michelin Bib Gourmand winner has a grown-up vibe so I’m tempted to leave the kids at home in this instance and enjoy the pretty terrace in peace. Make a reservation for your next date night, stat.
The Angel at Burford, Burford
The walled garden and sun terrace of this 500 year old Cotswolds inn are diddy but very sweet. You’re just off Burford’s buzzing high street too, which is perfect for a browse in the sunshine.
The Royal Oak, Bovingdon Green
Just outside Marlow, this lovely local (and winner of the 2021 Muddy Awards destination pub!) boasts award-winning food and a gorgeous outside area, complete with boules area and large enclosed gardens. Can’t go wrong.
The Castle at Edgehill, Banbury
Perched atop a hill this restaurant, hotel and country pub has views of the fields where the Battle of Edgehill took place in 1642. There’s a rather more peaceful vibe these days thankfully in the large, verdant beer garden, which is lined with fragrant lavender borders.
The Pink and Lily, Lacey Green
An attractive pub in leafy mid Buckinghamshire countryside, The Pink and Lily boasts this stunning terrace with modern inset seating, a further garden complete with groovy wooden pods, and an area for the kids in which to (mis)behave in peace while you concentrate on the important stuff like dessert.
The Trout Inn, Wolvercote
With peacocks patrolling the patio and the mesmerising waterfall in the adjacent river, The Trout near Oxford is an institution (just ask Inspector Morse, he spent half his time in here). The patioed terrace is a fantastic spot to while away a lazy Sunday afternoon.
Isis Farmhouse, Oxford
No car access to this bucolic spot by the river at Iffley Lock – you’ll have to walk (it’s about 30 mins from Christchurch Meadow in the city centre), row or cycle. The garden is enormous – like, three acres enormous – and you can sit in the shade of its huge trees or bask in the sun. Tables are on a first come, first served basis, but there are a lot of them.
The Black Horse, Great Linford
This North Bucks pub is right on the Grand Union Canal, with gardens stretching over two levels and a shaded courtyard from which to nurse your glass of rosé.
The Perch, Binsey
This charming thatched pub next to Port Meadow in Oxford and its meandering river has an outdoor bar, BBQ in the summer, large garden and great food. You can enjoy the full restaurant menu on the terrace, plus drinks and food from the Shed Bar if you’re after something less formal.
The Navigation Inn, Cosgrove
Overlooking the Grand Union Canal and surrounding countryside, this light and airy Victorian inn has a great outdoor terrace. The Mediterranean-inspired menu is late-summer-fabulous, including wood-fired pizza and meats grilled in a charcoal-fuelled Josper grill.
Victoria Arms, Old Marston
The large sweeping gardens stretch down to The River Cherwell at this atmospheric Oxford pub. Ideal if you want to spend the day in the city but want the midgets to roam free for a while. Victoria Arms revealed its full internal and external refurb to much applause earlier this year, including a pergola terrace and snazzy new bar.
The Nag’s Head, Great Missenden
Bib Gourmand food and great service make this pub on the edge of Great Missenden a winner anytime of year, but its lovely spacious garden is just the ticket on a sunny day. Plenty of room for the kids to run around, and the Roald Dahl museum is just down the road too.
Sir Charles Napier, Chinnor
More a restaurant than a pub, this elegant Chinnor mainstay gets top marks for its vine-covered terrace and incredible garden, which is home to several beautiful statues by Wycombe artist Michael Cooper. Hey, if it’s good enough for Raymond Blanc…
Also worth checking out…
The Ivy House, Chalfont St Giles
This Chiltern Hills inn has a sprawling garden (you’ll find me crashed out on one of the deckchairs) and is very child-friendly.
Trout Inn, Tadpole Bridge
The garden at this Oxon Cotswolds pub runs down to the river, so you can moor your boat and pop in for a pint.
The Old Swan, Minster Lovell
Another Oxon Cotswolds beauty, this has a whopping 65 acres of grounds, taking in gardens, flower meadows and woodland so you definitely won’t be fighting over the last patch of lawn.
Black Horse, Fulmer
This 17th century former craftsman’s cottage in the heart of the pretty South Bucks village of Fulmer is described as having a ‘gem of the garden’ in this year’s Michelin Guide and we think it’s rather lovely too. Such has been the success of the lockdown farm shop that it’s becoming a permanent fixture, alongside food and drink.
The Fishes, Oxford
A previous Muddy Award finalist, this pub boasts a glorious three acres not far from central Oxford. Buy a picnic from the bar and luxuriate in the sunshine.
The King William, Ipsden
This tucked-away gem is in the hamlet of Hailey near Wallingford. The garden is immense, with views of rolling hills and lush fields, gambolling lambs and red kites swooping overhead.