The UK’s 12 best trail running pubs

The UK’s 12 best trail running pubs

There is one unwritten rule in trail running. You may not find it in any training guide or rule book, but that doesn’t detract from its importance. After all, we all know the first rule of Fight Club…

You did some research and bought yourself some singing, dancing, and amazingly grippy trail shoes. Your kit is as breathable as it comes; warm base layers, water-repellent running jackets and allows you to move comfortably at the pace.

You have completed the training. You mapped the course – in fact you ran the route and took in some amazing scenery and climbed some incredible hills. And now this unwritten rule comes into play.

You may not know it, but it’s actually a requirement of your epic run that you celebrate with a pint in the most quaint pub, in the most amazing trail running-friendly place imaginable. Well, allow us to point you in the right direction. The trail running team got together here to share our favorite running pubs of all time.

1. The Victoria Inn, Snowdonia

There are few places that evoke a distant atmosphere better than the valley of the Afon Artro, which makes the short journey from Snowdonia’s Rhinog Mountains to the sea. Along the way, his water is complemented by the equally enchanting Afon Cwmnantcol, and together they laugh past the Victoria Inn’s beer garden in the small village of Llanbedr.

It’s an almost paradisiacal setting thanks to the deciduous forests that lie all around or the rocky, secluded hills that lie beyond. A few closed lanes make driving a pain, but it’s a wonderful place to wander and discover great views of the rhinogs, the sea, or distant Snowdon and the Lleyn Peninsula.

2. The Cluanie Inn, Highlands

Cluanie Inn

This Glen Shiel inn is an institution among Munro diggers – runners aiming to reach all 282 of Scotland’s 3,000+ peaks – because it’s a great base camp for ticking off many of the peaks on the route.

From the door of the Cluanie Inn you can reach the South Glen Shiel Ridge and bag seven Munros in one (very long!) day. On the other side of the gorge you can tick off another nine and hit three a day on the Five Sisters of Kintail, Brothers Ridge and a loop via Sgùrr nan Conbhairean, Càrn Ghluasaid and Sàil Chaorainn.

3. Cat & Fiddle, Macclesfield

the cat and fiddle in macclesfield

© Visit Cheshire

The Cat and Fiddle Inn is the second tallest inn in England and is the perfect spot for a morning walk through the ferns and over rolling hills. We know because we did it! Your route choices are limitless, but if you fancy an easy seven-mile stretch, try the clearly marked Loop Seven in the Shining Tor Goyt Valley.

The first half of the route to Shining Tor and Cats Tor is through wild, open moorland with vast views of Cheshire, Staffordshire, Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Wales. The second half after Foxlow Edge and Errwood Hall includes beautiful woodland, riverside walks and historic ruins.

4. The Black Lion, Peak District

The outstanding Peak District has miles of quiet, rural, balmy moors and leafy lanes to explore. And once you’re there, make sure you cross Butterton Moor – a stretch of open country said to be guarded by a Headless Horseman.

She takes you to the Black Lion Inn, a charming old stone pub that’s really anchored in its surroundings. It is run by the welcoming couple Matt and Hannah.

5. The Royal Oak, Shropshire Hills

Royal Oak Cardington

One of the oldest pubs in the country – certainly the oldest in Shropshire – the Royal Oak is a sprawling hobby spot that has been serving good humor and good ale since the 14th century.

What better way to spend a day than amidst the lofty heights of the Shropshire Hills, followed by the wood-smoked corners of a pub that has felt the tread of travelers’ boots for centuries?

6. The Star, Northumberland

Star Inn Harbottle

After a long day exploring the rolling Cheviot Hills, check into the recently renovated Star Inn to relax in one of the comfortable armchairs. For an easy pre-pint run, there’s a four-mile run to the Drake Stone and Harbottle Lake.

7. The Green Dragon, Yorkshire Dales

Behind the Green Dragon Pub is a magnificent wooded gorge that narrows to a rock face that causes Hardraw Force to plunge a full 100 feet into a pool below.

A visit here is the icing on the cake of pretty much any departure from the west end of Wensleydale, particularly the routes from Hawes. The Pennine Way also passes by – one of the most beautiful sections in fact – the epic climb over the Great Shunner Fell to (or from) Muker parallel to Swaledale.

8th. The Bell, Monmouthshire

The Bell sits on the banks of the River Monnow at Skenfrith, a few miles east of the Brecon Beacons National Park boundary and happily off the beaten track.

The surrounding Monmouthshire countryside is glorious: impossibly green fields meander over contours just steep enough to quench a thirst, while a quick jog around the ruins of Skenfrith Castle will take you back 900 years.

9. The Cross Wrenches, Howgills

This place is confusing. It is in Cumbria but is part of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. It’s a pub but it doesn’t sell alcohol. Cross Keys is a moderation inn, serving sarsaparilla or dandelion and burdock instead of beer (though you’re allowed to bring your own).

Now owned by the National Trust, it’s bright and white on the outside and comfortably somber on the inside, with dark beams, shelves of curios and an open fire when the weather turns.

And he has outdoor pedigree. Guidebook writer Alfred Wainwright used to eat ham and eggs (still a favorite on the menu) in the conservatory at the back, and he included a sketch of it Walks on the Howgill Fells.

The view from the garden quickly lifts to the soft contours of these hills, traversed by the whitewater of Cautley Spout (pictured), England’s highest above-ground waterfall.

10. The Crescent, South Downs

Crescent Inn

Climb the South Downs, coming close to The Half Moon, and you’ll discover the distinctive swathes of vineyards at the foot of the felt-covered hills. The views stretch far across the Weald north and south to the canal, while summer wildflowers blanket the nearer ground and attract the fluttering of rare butterflies.

11. The Hunters Inn, Exmoor

Hunter Inn

There’s no place where pub and countryside come together as perfectly as here at Heddon’s Mouth Cleave, where Exmoor meets the must-run route of the South West Coast Path.

The Hunter’s Inn is the only building in this tree lined steep valley. Further afield is the Valley of Rocks, Lynmouth or the towering cliffs of Great and Little Hangman.

12. The Kirkstile Inn, Lake District

the kirkstile inn

©The Kirkstile Inn

If you don’t think there are quiet corners in the Lake District, come to Kirkstile. Nestled in the northwest corner of the national park, there’s so much to love here.

The area features two beautiful lakes – Loweswater to the northwest and Crummock Water to the south; fascinating and less explored fells like Fellbarrow, Mellbreak and Grasmoor; and proud heritage: writer, photographer and climbing pioneer Walter Poucher loved it here.

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