It’s midsummer already and the weather is perfect for holiday cruising. For many boaters, stopping by and discovering cosy canal-side pubs full of character is one of the delights of narrowboating. For those that live aboard, the local pub is often the hub of the floating community! Here are a few of my favourite pubs travelling down the Grand Union through Hertfordshire.

1) The Red Lion, Vicarage Road, Marsworth HP23 4LU

This is a lovely old village pub with a real fire in winter and a large beer garden to enjoy in summer. There is also seating out front with a view of the stocks on the village green opposite. There always seem to be a few local boaters in the public bar and a friendly dog or two. The pub serves food and both bars and has a covered smoking area out back. It’s right next to bridge 130 although you can’t see the pub from the Cut. There’s a sign on the bridge and usually a space on the towpath nearby to moor up. It’s a perfectly traditional English pub with a few canal-themed pictures on the walls, and I always feel comfortable there: One of my most favourite pubs of all time.

2) The Three Horseshoes, Winkwell HP1 2RZ

Right next to the boatyard at Winkwell swingbridge (bridge 147) is this gorgeous (and possibly haunted) ancient English pub dating from 1535 with open fires in winter. There’s a good food menu and real ale. You can bring children if you are eating and dogs are also welcome. In summer it’s best to sit out front on the patio which is right next to the canal. Spend a lazy afternoon watching the boats go by. The pub is right by the lock so if you are cruising south you may need to carry on through the lock before mooring up.

3) The Malt Shovel, Cowley Peachey, Uxbridge UB8 2JE

Cowley lock (no. 89) is the last lock before you reach the long lock-free stretch that takes you into London. The pub is right on the towpath and has a little outdoor seating. It does good food and is affectionately known as “The Shovel” among boaters. It’s part of the Vintage Inns chain and the menu is good. Cowley is a lovely area to moor, and the local park, lakes and rivers offer country walks nearby.

If you don’t have any particular timescale in mind for your trip it’s the loveliest thing to just potter along the Cut until you see a pub you like the look of, and then stop. A few other favourites worth a mention are The Grand Junction Arms at Bulbourne, The Coy Carp at Hareflield and The Swan and Bottle at Uxbridge. They all serve food, they’re all near the canal and you’re sure to find a boater or two within. For a waterside pub near you check out The Canal and Riverside Pub Guide.

What’s your favourite canal-side or riverside pub? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter :-)

Image credit: The Three Horseshoes (website)


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