How often have you walked into a well-known chain pub and felt a sense of Deja vu? If it wasn’t maybe for the change in the scenery outside, you could literally be in the same pub, wherever you are in the country.
Well, Character Inns offer something a little different. You can be assured of a warm welcome, good food and plenty of drink choices on offer, but that is pretty much where the similarity between each place ends. It may be a chain, but not as you know it. Each pub has its own individual style and historic charm that permeates everything from the options on the specials board, to the buildings themselves. To top that off, they are situated in some of the Isle of Wight’s most picturesque locations, each one different but each one as equally stunning as the next.
Possibly one of the most famous pubs on the Island and a jewel in the Character crown, a trip to the Buddle Inn in Niton is not to be missed, especially at this time of year when the fire is lit and mulled wine is on the menu. Set in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, The Buddle is set at the most southerly point of the Isle of Wight. Make the most of this with a bracing walk down to St Catherine’s Lighthouse and along Castlehaven with a warm-up in the pubs historic surroundings afterwards. Think flagstone floors, inglenook beams and a roaring fire and you have conjured up most people’s idea of a dream pub. Happily, The Buddle makes it a reality.
Caulkheads in Sandown ticks all the boxes for a family pub. Set in a Victorian tavern, the name is unique to the Island (Caulkhead simply means someone who was born on the Island from a third generation) and here all generations are warmly welcomed. Kids are catered for with an indoor ball park and outside play area, while grown-ups will appreciate the snug surroundings and extensive bar list. Set just minutes from the sandy beach, where dogs are welcomed throughout the winter, this is the perfect stop off for a winter walk followed by a warming meal snuggled up in Sandown’s best loved pub.
Over in the ‘Back of the Wight’, The Sun Inn in Hulverstone offers village charm coupled with spectacular unspoilt views over countryside to the sea – a sunset here is unthinkably beautiful. Set in a 600 years old hostelry, the pub has quite the checkered history. Local legend states that is was used for smugglers pedalling their ill-gotten gains. Lord Mottistone was apparently a fan of the location of the pub due to the sobering effect on his workers on their walk home from Hulverstone to Mottistone Manor. Walkers, cyclists and even horse riders frequent here due to the close proximity of a network of scenic footpaths and bridleways, the perfect pit stop.
This is where things get a little complicated – Character Inns have two pubs both called The Bugle Inn. One is situated in the historic village of Brading, the other in the port town of Yarmouth. Set against a traditional market square, The Bugle in Yarmouth is a 16th Century hotel, a mere stones throw from the water’s edge and the Wightlink ferry port. Known locally as a real doggy-friendly pub, the manager even encourages you to upload pictures of your pup enjoying the pub to their Facebook page!
The Bugle Inn in Brading is based in one of the Island’s oldest towns, with the name Brading originating in 683. The pub itself was said to be built in 1314 and rumour has it that even King Charles visited here. Once a port town, it is said that the sea water rose as far as the land just behind the car park, where a bustling seaport with ships loading and unloading goods and foodstuffs once thrived. Today, locals can be found here enjoying the legendary Sunday carvery or just whiling a week night away in the comfort of the nooks and crannies.
Recent additions to the Character Inns family include The Yachtsman in Cowes. Enjoying some of the best views across the Solent, this is the perfect place to soak in the sailing atmosphere and as the flagship site, sample some of the best in local produce from Executive Chef Paul Hayward.
The latest addition is The Crown Inn, Shorwell. The picturesque village is peppered with thatched cottages and a traditional village post office. The Crown lends itself perfectly to typical country life with an open fire and a rear garden complete with trout stream. Built in the 1700’s it is reputed to have its very own (friendly) ghost who takes aversion to those playing cards here, often scattering them over the floor overnight.
A trip around the Island warrants a stop in each pub, all brimming with character but all charming in their own unique way.
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