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Home to Stonehenge, the Avebury circle and some of England’s most spectacular architecture, Wiltshire is known as a quintessentially British county. Hidden amongst the vast expanses of countryside, along waterways and in ancient towns, are some of Wiltshire’s prettiest pubs. Here we recommend some of the finest pubs in the region.

The Barge Inn, Pewsey

For a pint by the water and a taste of the supernatural, head to The Barge Inn. Built from Bath stone, this may seem like your typical Wiltshire pub, however this historical building has something extra special. Set in a “hot-spot” for crop circles, The Barge Inn also serves as the world headquarters for crop circle enthusiasts. Be sure to ask in the pub, as there may be crop circles to explore nearby.

“The Barge Inn is a unique, historical pub located on the Kennet and Avon Canal in the magic of the Pewsey Vale in Wiltshire,” said the owners. “The Barge has been, for decades, a destination of utmost importance for crop circle followers and archaeological site lovers but also for boaters, bikers, horse riders and walkers who definitely appreciate a healing stop in this special place.”

The pub is now run by an Italian family, whose aim is to encourage the traditional Brit pub atmosphere, while adding unique Italian hospitality and culinary tradition. Expect carefully chosen wines, designed to be paired with its delicious menu. The owners added: “Sitting by the canal shore in the beer garden, The Barge customers enjoy the naturally energetic wildlife, maybe while drinking locally brewed beers or a pint of Peroni, a glass of Italian wine or a good cappuccino in the most astonishing countryside landscape at sunset.

“As people step inside The Barge, a cool and friendly atmosphere welcomes those wanting to enjoy a delicious lunch or a refined dinner by the fireplace in the candlelight.”

For night owls, the pub welcomes blues, folk and rock musicians on Saturday evenings.

The Rising Sun, Lacock

In the quaint village of Lacock, The Rising Sun is the essence of Wiltshire. The pub, which describes its Sunday roasts as “legendary”, is well worth a visit on a Wiltshire cottage holiday. Abi Brown of Wickwar Brewing Co said: “Our pub is a gorgeous quintessential English country pub, perfectly positioned on the outskirts of the beautiful National Trust village of Lacock.

“We have a large conservatory which leads into our sun-drenched beer garden – both areas provide customers with picture perfect views across the Wiltshire countryside.

“We pride ourselves on serving fresh and locally sourced seasonal produce and refer to our kitchen as a ‘fresh food kitchen’, as we change our menu according to the produce that is available through local suppliers. We also have a special ‘Stables Bar’, which is located in our beer garden, serving snacks and ice creams for the kids during the summer months.

“If tourists are looking to step back in time to 13th century England and experience the true British countryside in its finest form, then Wiltshire is the perfect holiday destination. Lacock village is also the favourite place of many films and TV dramas, including Downton Abbey and Harry Potter.”

The Cross Guns, Avoncliff

Dating back to 1550, it’s difficult not to fall in love with this spectacular old pub. The Cross Guns can be found in the historic hamlet of Avoncliff and is considered by locals and visitors to be an incredibly warm and friendly pub. Wooden beams, stone floors and cosy fires in the winter add to the atmosphere of The Cross Guns. However, in the spring and summer, its terraced gardens are the place to be. Take in the views over the railway, river and canal and admire this pretty Wiltshire pub.

The Old Mill, Salisbury

Set beside the River Nadder, The Old Mill Hotel is a dreamy pub just 10 minutes from the cathedral city of Salisbury. Set in a Grade I listed building, complete with an original paper mill, it’s easy to see why this unique pub is so popular.

“The Old Mill is the oldest surviving paper mill in the country,” said the team at The Old Mill Hotel. “Most watermills either fell down, disappeared or if they were well situated, they were converted into desirable residences. However here at The Old Mill in Harnham, we’ve been fortunate. The mill remained a working mill until the 20th century and has only been slightly altered since.”

The spectacular old mill harnesses the power of the water, using three water channels or ‘races’ underneath the floor. One has been revamped to show the running water through a viewing channel in the centre of the restaurant.

The Old Mill team said: “Our hotel has one of the highest rated gardens in Salisbury. In 2016, we were awarded silver in the Salisbury Council garden of the year award. Not only that but we’ve recently built an outside bar in our garden with a fully-equipped kitchen and Bertha oven, boasting its own menu and fine drink selection.

“We are also lucky in the fact that we have the gorgeous restaurant and great food. Finally, and arguably most importantly, our staff. We have a greatly competent and energetic team of staff who are warm, welcoming and eager to give great service!

“The Old Mill captures perfectly everything that is desirable about Wiltshire, situated just a five-minute walk away from Queen Elizabeth gardens, and surrounded by gorgeous wildlife and natural beauty. It is peaceful and beautiful to look at, as well as cosy and warm in the winter.”

The Red Lion, Pewsey

If you venture 30 minutes from Salisbury into the Wiltshire countryside, you may just stumble across The Red Lion. With a Michelin star under its belt, this quaint country pub is so much more than just somewhere to stop for a pint. The pub prides itself on sourcing food locally and strives to make everything in-house. Its indulgent menu includes dishes such as Chateaubriand of Wiltshire beef with hand cut chips and béarnaise sauce. Paired with a delicious wine, or a local ale if you prefer, this is the place to go for a memorable meal in Wiltshire.

Sign of the Angel, Lacock

Hidden in the historic village of Lacock, Sign of the Angel is an enchanting 15th century coaching inn. Roaring fires and homely décor make this an idyllic pub in the winter, while its pretty garden and stream offer the perfect spot for a drink in the sunshine. With a focus on creating decadent dishes using sustainable ingredients from local farmers, growers and butchers, you won’t be disappointed if you decide to stop for lunch or dinner.

Red Lion, Cricklade

Complete with an onsite microbrewery the Red Lion is a fine choice for beer enthusiasts. Located in the small town of Cricklade in north Wiltshire, the pub’s cosy décor and remarkable selection of tipples make it popular among locals and visitors. Its traditional interior and charming location make this one of the prettiest pubs in Wiltshire. Combined with a menu of mouth-watering meat and game dishes and tasty pub snacks, we’re sure you’ll love visiting the Red Lion on your Wiltshire cottage holiday.

The Ox Row Inn, Salisbury

At the heart of Salisbury’s historic Butcher’s Row, The Ox Row Inn is most famous for its delicious steaks and broad selection of ales. Enjoy a refreshing pint from local brewers such as Stonehenge Ales, as well as craft beers and traditional ales. Inside, the pub’s traditional yet sleek design offers the perfect setting for a cosy pub lunch. For sunny days, the pub’s outdoor seating area gives customers a prime view of Salisbury’s historic architecture.

The White Hart, Ford

In the peaceful hamlet of Ford, surrounded by woodland, The White Hart is certainly one of Wiltshire’s prettiest pubs. A pint here is best enjoyed sat outdoors on a picnic bench by the Bybrook River. Choose from a selection of local ales and ciders and be sure to stop by for dinner if you can – the pub’s steaks are legendary.

Whether you’re spending your Wiltshire cottage holiday at Stonehenge or browsing the historic city of Salisbury, you’ll never be too far away from a beautiful local pub.

Image credits: Charles D P Miller, Rodw, The Barge Inn images – Barbara Tomeucci, shrinkin’violet, The Rising Sun, shrinkin'violet.