Good country pubs within 30 min drive of SE23?

Looking for a nice country pub within a half-hour drive. Preferably via a fun driving route that gets my car out of second gear (once safely outside Lewisham). Must have good lunchtime food and craft beer.

Bonus points for:

  • pub cat
  • log fire
  • thatched roof and ivy on the walls
  • canal-side location
  • 200+ year history
  • ridiculous name
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High Rocks

  • Plenty of ivy but the roof is proper
  • No canal (this is the 21st century), just a steam railway at the bottom of the garden
  • Unusual name but not ridiculous
  • Fire and cat - no idea

route there includes Biggin Hill, Hever castle, Chiddingstone, Chartwell, Downe, Penshurst, and many typical Kent pubs.

But you might get better food in London, where we have higher expectations and more competition than in rural areas.

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The Bull in Horton Kirby and The Plough in Eynsford

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Any of the 3 pubs in Denham. Bit of a schlep though.

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Doesn’t have a cat but it does have a bear… The White Bear at Fickleshole

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The Hope, 48 West Street, Carshalton, SM5 2PR

pub cat - YES (he even has his own Twitter account, @pubcathope)
log fire - YES (x2). Plus a warm welcome whenever you go
thatched roof and ivy on the walls - YES. Well, if you count hanging baskets and mock Tudor frontage…
canal-side location - YES. Kinda. Carshalton Ponds are 100 yards away
200+ year history - Calm down Mr Picky…is 1850 not old enough?
ridiculous name YES. It should be called ‘The Expectation’ instead

Saved by local community from the grasp of property developers - YES
Bar Billiards table - YES
Awesome Hotpot - YES
7 real ale hand pumps - YES


sounds great, but ‘Preferably via a fun driving route that gets my car out of second gear’. Good luck with that on the 40 minutes / 10 mile journey (that’s an average of 15mph)

The Blacksmiths Arms in Cudham, just over a 30 min drive. Great food and good beer!

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The White Bear Warlingham probably over 30 minutes but Pork belly and steak& kidney pud worth the trek. Bit of country driving no lights no pavements.

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Thanks, all, for the suggestions. I’ll work my way through the list and report back. Props to @Michael and @Jimsthename for in-depth analysis! :ok_hand:

Within 30 minutes? Chris. Can you increase the drive to 45 mins, may have some suggestions.


I’m all ears!

Let the train take the strain - don’t drink and drive kids!


The Woodman in Farnborough Village is a nice old place. Very dog friendly and has another old pub opposite. Out the other side of Bromley past Locksbottom. High Elms Park nearby for woods and walks etc.


Looking at this thread, I was reminded of cycling past the White Bear a few times - certainly looks a nice pub. But why drive when you can cycle? I just had a look on Strava to see how long it takes - from Penge, I admit. 35 minutes there, just 30 minutes back, it being downhill

Seriously, why would anyone, unless they have some medical condition, drive there? It’s cheaper to cycle, keeps you fit, and when there is any kind of traffic congestion, may even be quicker.

I think for drivers, it’s just a life style choice, and I don’t see why, as a cyclist, I should be expected to pay NHS costs for the diseases of affluence. For some people, I suppose, there may be a genetic component in their choice to drive, but I’ve not seen any research on this, and as they say, I’m not persuaded.

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Could we keep on-topic please @TimLund - there are enough heated discussions about cars vs. cyclists elsewhere on this forum IMO.

Totally on topic my little snowflake

Or is it a logic, or sense of humour failure you’ve just had? Better now than a heart failure a few years down the road

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Mr Lund. Drive, not cycle.

As you were.

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