Whether meeting friends, catching one’s breath after a Sunday walk or tucking into a roast dinner, it’s hard to beat the appeal of a log fire, a comfy chair and a pint of Harvey’s on a chilly day. In this week’s Celebrating Sussex, we round up eight of the best pubs in the area to visit during the winter months.
The Shepherd And Dog, Fulking
Located at the foot of the South Downs, this traditional oak-beamed pub offers superb views of the autumnal countryside, as well as beer from its own brewery.
A popular spot for walkers, its inglenook fireplace is the perfect place to stretch weary legs and enjoy a pint from a vast selection of ales. The pub is listed on Camra’s beer trail and stocks Dark Star, Ringwood, Hepworth and Marstons as well as its own varieties, including the popular Ruskin’s Ram and Devil’s Dyke Porter.
The Ram Inn, Firle
A pub that’s been at the centre of the community for more than 500 years, The Ram continues to attract an eclectic mix of people from farmers and walkers to artists and writers. Even Hollywood actor Bill Murray dropped in while visiting the nearby Glyndebourne Opera House.
The building features three main bar areas, each with open fires which are lit every day between October and April. It’s also renowned for its food which includes game from the Firle Estate and bread baked in the village.
The Griffin Inn, Fletching
Listed by The Times as one of its top 30 British pubs for summer, The Griffin is just as good out of season.
Situated in the historic village of Fletching, it has developed a reputation for its food and wine.
It has a large landscaped garden with sloping grounds offering views all the way towards Sheffield Park.
The menu is updated daily and visit in the next few weeks and you can take advantage of its autumn set menu.
The Horseguards Inn, Tillington, near Petworth
Roast chestnuts foraged from nearby Petworth Park on open log fires, play board games at the bar or shelter from the cold weather with a warm glass of spiced cider at this 350-year-old pub.
The Horseguards got its name in the 1840s when part of the Household Cavalry would frequent the inn, leaving their horses to rest in the grounds of the Petworth Estate under the watchful eye of Lord Egremont.
Now it attracts families, walkers and a fair few restaurant critics – its chef Paul Peach won Young Chef Of The Year in last April’s Sussex Food and Drink Awards.
The Rose Cottage Inn, Alciston, near Polegate
Undisputedly one of the prettiest pubs in Sussex, The Rose Cottage is the ideal place to get some peace and quiet.
Tucked away in the tiny village of Alciston, best known for its annual skipping contest every Good Friday, it’s the sort of place that sells local eggs and homemade honey alongside its real ales and ciders.
But squeeze into a table in the low-beamed restaurant and you’ll find the food is a cut above the standard pub menu, with curries, koftas and salads sitting alongside the more traditional ham-and-chips and fish pies.
The Ginger Fox, Muddleswood Road, Albourne
Looking to treat yourself? The country outpost of the Gingerman empire offers scenic surroundings, a children’s play area and a very fancy menu.
Tucked away down a long, winding lane on the way to Henfield, the pub was listed alongside its sister venture The Ginger Pig in Hove, in this year’s Michelin’s Eating Out guide.
The weathervane, showing a fox in hungry pursuit of a pheasant “gives a clue as to its charm and character,” said inspectors, who also praised the pub’s “skilful cooking with a country flavour”.
The Cat Inn, West Hoathly
Formerly a medieval hall house, The Cat’s hands-on owners have transformed it into one of the most popular pubs in the area.
Set in the picturesque hilltop village of West Hoathly, the 16th century inn features everything one could wish for in a country pub, from beamed ceilings to an inglenook fireplace – there’s even an old 75ft well indoors, now covered over with glass.
Pull up a seat at the bar and enjoy a pint of Larkins with the locals, walkers and tourists who frequent the pub.
The Giant’s Rest, The Street, Wilmington
On a sunny Sunday, there are few better places to be than surveying the world from the top of the Sussex Downs. This pub is a great stop-off on such a walk (or an end point if it’s been particularly bracing).
Named in honour of the famous Long Man of Wilmington (thought to be either an ancient fertility symbol or an 18th century folly) the pub is a Victorian freehouse that serves a range of real ales, including Harveys, and a delicious homemade food menu – its Sunday lunches are particularly popular.