10 beautiful riverside pubs in Kent
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There’s nothing like finding a quiet spot in a beer garden with the sound of a river running along beside you. We have picked 10 places to do just that.
Coronavirus statement: Please make sure to adhere to social distancing and any other rules that pubs have implemented. Also, be aware that some details and features are subject to change during the transition out of lockdown.
Little Mill, East Peckham
Late 16th-century inn, The Man of Kent, backs right onto the River Bourne and comes complete with a red brick bridge. Burgers come juicy, stacked, with lots of cheese and a side of salad, fries and onion rings. What more do you need?
The garden: The interiors are cosy in the winter and feature a wood-burning fireplace and exposed beams. Or, when the sun’s out, head into the garden for a pint of something cold as you watch the passing river. Children can even ask behind the bar for scraps to feed the fish.
King Street, Sturry, Canterbury
Perched near the Great Stour is the Fordwich Arms, the bucolic red brick pub that serves a menu of daily changing food that is updated seasonally with new produce. Attention to detail and commitment to great food has earned the restaurant a Michelin star, awarded in 2019. Sunday lunch is a speciality at the Fordwich Arms with “melt in the mouth” lamb with mint sauce and Yorkshire pudding. If you have room, there will be plenty of puddings to quell those sweet cravings.
The garden: The pretty terrace is right next to the river, a perfect spot to watch the canal boats bobbing past and with views over the green countryside.
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High Street, Upper Upnor
Decorated sympathetically, contrasting modern and traditional, the Tudor Rose in the pretty village of Upper Upnor is situated on a cobbled street that runs up to the historic Upnor Castle and the River Medway - a perfect setting for riverside drinks. Tuck into a tempting British pub classics such as steak and stout ale pie with potatoes and seasonal vegetables or a fisherman’s board of smoked salmon, mackerel fillet, king prawns, crayfish tails and crusty bread.
The garden: The pretty garden has a homely feel and is just a stone’s throw away from the River Medway.
The Street, Horton Kirby, Dartford
The menu at the Fighting Cocks is extensive with an eclectic mix of dishes from slow-cooked BBQ pork ribs to smoked salmon tagliatelle in a light cream sauce.
The garden: With a glass conservatory restaurant backing onto the large pub garden, The Fighting Cocks in the village of Horton Kirby is a delightful place to enjoy the natural surroundings of the River Darent.
Town Pier, Gravesend
Having sat along the River Thames in Gravesend for over 570 years, the Three Daws is a historical pub packed with character. With a tumultuous history that reportedly includes smugglings and hauntings, this waterside inn is now a popular local that features live bands for entertainment and plenty of food and real ale to boot.
What to eat: Food is made using ingredients that are sourced locally to support Kentish producers. Expect comfort dishes such as peppered topside of beef with vegetables, meat fat seasoned roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding and gravy. Order the traditional gypsy tart for dessert for a true taste of Kent.
The building that now houses this micropub in Crayford, next to the River Cray, was once a bicycle shop, hence its quirky name. The micropub trend started in Kent and quickly caught on, seeing a revival of tiny taverns serving great beer.
The Penny Farthing is an archetypal micropub; you won’t find TVs or game machines, just well-kept real ale and a welcoming atmosphere - and all this while being right opposite the rambling River Cray.
Mill Lane, Canterbury
Mismatched tables and antique-style wooden seating freshened with a contemporary lick of paint greets visitors to The Millers Arms in Canterbury, another riverside local overlooking the Great Stour River. As the name hints, local mill workers once used this inn in the early 19th century after a hard day’s work, and it is still a popular spot for post-work drinks!
The garden: When sitting outside at the pub's front, visitors can see a little section of the Great Stour running past.
St Peters Street, Canterbury
For the ultimate riverside pub experience in Canterbury, The Old Weavers Restaurant has a riverside terrace bursting with plants and flowers to create a restful oasis at the water’s edge. That’s not all; diners could also enjoy the ‘dine and boat deal’; enjoy a homemade lunch before a punt on the river (please check the events page on the website for details of when this will start again).
Try a stuffed Yorkshire pudding with your choice of fillings, including beef with sage and a red wine sauce or lamb with plum and rosemary sauce for a Sunday lunch with a difference.
First licensed in 1738, The Shipwright’s Arms in Hollowshore is an unassuming tavern to escape the hubbub - and enjoy some locally brewed real ales. There’s no music, wifi or games machines to interrupt your visit to this pub which has commanding views over the Swale.
Traditional pub grub is served at lunchtimes (and dinner on Fridays and Saturdays) to hungry patrons. Think crispy battered cod with chips and peas, sausage and mash or a cheddar ploughman’s - perfect for a post-ramble meal and tipple next to the river.
Chatham Maritime, Chatham
A social hub on the waterfront in Chatham, The Ship & Trades specialises in good food that’s best enjoyed on the terrace overlooking the Chatham Maritime Marina and The Quays.
Dishes include pizzas, stacked burgers, doorstop sandwiches and more. Afterwards, there’s plenty to see, including the Historic Dockyard, a filming location favoured by Hollywood directors and British television studios.