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Top beer gardens in the region to enjoy as pubs reopen

By Mark Andrews | Dining out | Published:

Pubs are back, and their gardens will never have been so popular. Here are some across the region that are well worth travelling to see.

The Boathouse in Shrewsbury. Photo: Sarah Stanley

Nothing beats a couple of hours in a pub garden in the height of summer –especially if they have a view.

Our region has some of the best, from rural Shropshire and Staffordshire to the heart of the Black Country.

And, while today’s weather may not be the greatest, there will be sunny days ahead when a visit is on order, as long as it is socially distanced of course. Below are just a few suggestions for you to try...

The Plum Pudding, Armitage

The canalside garden at The Plum Pudding

Situated along the Trent-Mersey Canal at Armitage, near Rugeley, the Plum Pudding is a delightful place to while away a sunny summer's day watching the boats go by.

With wooden benches along the towpath, and a more formal decking area surrounded by colourful garden planters, it is little wonder that The Plum Pudding has long been popular with walkers and canal-boat lovers. It also has an excellent Italian restaurant which attracts people from near and far.

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Whether you are looking for an alfresco meal, or just simply wanting to enjoy a few drinks as you take in the view, it is well worth a visit.

The Last Inn, Newport

A shot of patio/beer garden at The Last Inn, Church Aston, near Newport.

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On the edge of a popular Shropshire market town this relaxed brasserie serves top notch British pub grub.

Focused on a family friendly environment, reflected in the fresh and wholesome kids menu to the beautiful enclosed outside space used for garden games.

You will find more than you would expect at The Last Inn with a roaring fire in the Winter and homemade Afternoon Tea in the Summer.

A local pub delivering exceptional food and service.

The Oakley Arms, Brewood

The Oakley Arms, Brewood

Part of the Brunning & Price chain, you know that The Oakley Arms will provide a large, constantly changing range of cask ales, a variety of wines and other drinks, and good traditional pub food.

But it is the spacious and attractive beer garden which really makes The Oakley stand out. Large and spacious, the good quality garden furniture makes for a pleasant ambience, as do the neatly tended shrubs. Even the large smoking shelter makes for an attractive feature in the garden.

But the real piece de resistance is the lake. The beautiful private lake set just below decking area is what this pub is all about.

Populated by various waterfowl, there is a small island in the middle of the pool, and steps lead down from the decking area if you want to take a walk around it.

Alternatively, grab a table with a lakeside view – although you may need to move quickly on a summer's day.

A nice touch is the jar of dog biscuits behind the bar.

The Windmill Inn, Rowton

Windmill Inn in Rowton

The view out across Shropshire has to be seen to be believed - a real hidden gem. The Windmill is on the summit of a ridge which rises from the valley of the River Severn, encircled by hills, the Stiperstones and the Devil’s Chair, Cornden, the Long Mountain, the Breiddens, Middletown Hill, Rodney’s Pillar, the Berwyns, Nesscliffe, Grinshill and the Wrekin - can all be seen on a 360 degree panoramic horizon.

After soaking up the view you can then take a stroll to the actual windmill - and for the more energetic, on to the village of Alberbury and back for another pint at the pub. For those looking to relax - just soak up Shropshire; with a pint brewed in the county, meat reared in the county and one of the pub’s puddings.

The Bell and Cross, Clent

The Bell & Cross, Clent

Clent is an area surrounded with great pubs, and The Bell & Cross is probably the best known of them all.

Once owned by the chef to the England football team, The Bell & Cross used to be featured in the Michelin Red Guide. His departure was followed by a couple of troubled years, but under new ownership, the pub now seems to be on the up once more.

A neat topiary arch welcomes visitors from the main car park, and the garden is neatly landscaped.

Surrounded by rolling countryside, The Bell & Cross is in an attractive setting. The garden, enclosed by a neat privet hedge, is nicely landscaped. Just the place to enjoy a pint of Enville Ale, Timothy Taylor or Wye Valley HPA.

The Boathouse, Shrewsbury

The Boathouse in Shrewsbury. Photo: Sarah Stanley

With a prime riverside spot and views of the Quarry park, the Boathouse understandably has one of the most popular beer gardens in Shrewsbury.

Situated right next to Porthill Bridge, the pub's decking directly overlooks the river - providing the option of arriving by kayak or boat.

With real ale, wine, light bites and full meals it's a great spot to sit back, soak up Shrewsbury and settle in for some people watching.

Your biggest difficulty will be finding a table.

Anchor Inn, Coven

The Anchor at Coven enjoys a beautiful setting by the canal

Another waterside pub, the Anchor benefits from an excellent location next to the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal at Cross Green, just to the north of Wolverhampton.

Previously the Fox & Anchor, the pub got a makeover by owner Vintage Inns a few years ago.

And you have to say, the company has really, ahem, pushed the boat out on this one to make the most of its position.

Crisp, white balustrades, stylish rattan furniture, and large, contemporary parasols give this place a bit of a holiday feel.

And if you're arriving by narrowboat, you are unlikely to miss it – a huge sign on the wall outside welcomes you here.

Why bother going abroad, when you can relax on the decking here?

The Swallow's Nest, Romsley

The Swallow's Nest, Romsley

Another Vintage Inn, The Swallow's Nest is located in the picturesque village of Romsley, just outside Halesowen.

Offering a good range of real ales and well-priced food, the garden at the rear features an attractive patio area with a mixture of timber and rattan furniture.

There is an attractive range of hanging baskets and neat shrubs to give it a relaxing feel, and the ornate lamp post is a nice touch.

But The Swallow's Nest is all about the view. Miles and miles of unspoilt countryside. A wonderful place to be as the sun goes down at the end of a balmy night.

The Hundred House Hotel, Norton

LAST PIC FOR EXPRESS AND STAR AND SHROPSHIRE STAR FOOD REVIEW: General view of the Hundred House Hotel in Norton, near Bridgnorth. PIC BY ANDY CUNNINGHAM: 6/5/13..

Nestled in the heart of Norton, The Hundred House Hotel's lush garden is a real hidden gem.

The award-winning secret garden was designed by Sylvia Phillips and her husband Henry, who spent many years collecting interesting and unusual sculptures to decorate.

The garden also has more than 70 different varieties of herbs and edible flowers, which are used to season dishes within the hotel's restaurant.

Chef Stuart Phillips said: “As well as the flower garden we also have a luscious herb garden filled with over 70 varieties of herbs, fruit and vegetables that are used by our chefs to create the freshest flavours for guests to savour.

“Throughout Spring you’ll find Cherry Blossom, thousands of bulb flowers such as multi coloured Tulips, Hyacinths, Daffodils, Alliums, as well as dancing pond flowers. Summer will bring a variety of flowers, including David Austin Roses, Giant Agapanthus, Dahlias, Clary, Fuchsia’s, Arum Lilies and much more.

“Autumn months bring the richest of colours to our many trees, Reds, Coppers, Golds and Pinks within the garden and thousands of berries adorn the outer Hotel walls and hedges, which stay brightly red and orange right through into Winter, when you’ll also find Snowdrops, Helleborus, Violas and Crocus’s.”

The Mug House, Bewdley

The back garden at The Mug House

You will have to wait another 10 days for a pint at The Mug House, which plans to reopen on July 14.

That said, it will be worth it, particularly if the weather is good.

The garden at the rear of The Mug House can be a real sun trap on a bright day.

The garden features a sun terrace and glass-covered patio, with grapevines and wisteria growing above, as well as tasteful shrubbery.

And if that is not to your liking, you can always sit outside the front, next to the River Severn.

The Woodbridge Inn, Coalport

Woodbride Inn, Coalport

The Woodbridge is situated on the banks of the River Severn, a mile downstream from Ironbridge in Shropshire.

The pub has a substantial raised desk to provide outside drinking and an eating area overlooking the river, as well as a sunny garden room.

Menus are changed each and every day, giving you plenty of exciting dishes to sample every time you visit.

The Hogshead, Wolverhampton

The popular 'Yard of Ale' at The Hogshead in Wolverhampton

OK, it's not the most picturesque beer garden here, but it is one of the most popular.

Always at the centre of the city's nightlife, the garden is normally buzzing at weekends and lunchtimes. With decent patio heaters and a covered area, it is also somewhere that is enjoyed all year round.

With the tables painted in bright colours, and a sign declaring it the Yard of Ale – geddit? – it has a youthful and quirky feel, which probably reflects the demographic it is aimed at.

And of course, The Hogshead is known for its huge variety of real ales, craft keg beers, lagers, and pretty much everything else, so you shouldn't have too much difficulty finding something to drink.

The Plough Inn, Shifnal

Plough Inn, Shifnal

Dog friendly and with an extensive beer garden, The Plough Inn is a perfect pub to enjoy in the sun.

The Plough Inn is predominantly a traditional real ale free house, but it has a variety of drinks and food options for visitors to enjoy.

It also has a great Irish music night on the first Monday of every month.

The Wheatsheaf, Walsall

The striking mural in the garden of The Wheatsheaf

It shouldn't be too much of a problem remembering what ales are available at The Wheatsheaf in Birmingham Road, Walsall – just look at the huge mural on the walls around the garden.

While most pubs make do with a simple sign, The Wheatsheaf goes one better with a huge wall painting. An old-school farmer taking a scythe to a field of wheat reminds you of where the name comes from, and there is also the logo of the Wye Valley Brewery and the designs from some of the beer's pump clips.

Not your average pub beer garden, but certainly unique.

The Castle Hotel, Bishop's Castle

The Castle Hotel, Bishops Castle.

This four star hotel offers stylish accommodation and a beautiful garden in a charming Shropshire market town.

The hotel doubles as a traditional country pub and has three bar areas which stock a fantastic sample of local real ales from Bishop Castle and the surrounding area.

The massive beer garden boasts excellent views of the surrounding area, perfect to enjoy your local tipple in.

The Pheasant Inn, Telford

The Pheasant Inn, Telford

Whether you are looking for a dining experience or more simple fare, The Pheasant Inn at Admaston can cater for your needs.

Their locally-sourced food can be enjoyed with a drink from their fully-stocked bar, containing a variety of beers, ciders and wines.

The Pheasant hosts a variety of events to entertain guests such as themed evenings and menus throughout the year.

Mark Andrews

By Mark Andrews
@MAndrews_Star

Senior news writer for the Shropshire Star specialising in in-depth features and commentary, investigative reporting and political matters.

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