The Boat

The Boat, Penallt, Monmouthshire NP25 4AJ

An old sandstone pub beside the River Wye, which is actually located in Wales, but is best reached by crossing the river via a disused railway bridge from the Gloucestershire side at Redbrook. The car park is not well marked and has a probably unenforceable £1 pay and display charge before 6 pm. The pub has a main L-shaped bar with a stone-flagged floor and a small snug off, plus outside seating by the river. On my visit there was a fair amount of banter and reminiscence from a group of locals. Beer is dispensed by gravity from barrels behind the bar, with Wye Valley Butty Bach and Banker’s Draft available when I called. There is also a wide range of traditional ciders. The menu includes a choice of baguettes plus a limited range of hot food.

The Dolphin

The Dolphin, Plymouth, Devon PL1 2LS

An old-fashioned harbourside pub in Plymouth’s historic Barbican area. The interior is one basic Z-shaped bar with fixed seating plus rustic benches and tables arranged rather haphazardly. At some point in the past the two front doors must have given access to separate areas, maybe a front bar and a passageway through to the rear. The clientele is an incongruous mix of down-to-earth locals, business people and tourists, some of whom must be a little baffled by what they find.

Around eight different real ales are served on gravity including Bass, St Austell Tribute and Proper Job, Doom Bar and Otter Ale, although perhaps the selection could be a little more adventurous. In my experience temperature control was fine. Bass is the defining beer in here. No food is served, but you are allowed to bring in meals from local takeaways. The frontage features in a couple of paintings by well-known local artist Beryl Cook, reproductions of which are displayed on the wall.

The Crown

The Crown, Churchill, Somerset BS25 5PP

An old stone-built pub hidden away down a narrow lane in the apex of the junction between the A38 and A368. There are no direction signs at either end, so you would not know it was there unless someone had told you, and the pub itself is identified just by a fading sign on the gable-end.

Inside it has separate lounge and public sides, but all characterised by bare stone walls and flagged floors, contributing to a down-to-earth, rustic atmosphere. There is also a large beer garden at the rear. Up to eight real ales are served by gravity, including Draught Bass, local favourite Butcombe Bitter and their own house beer Batch Bitter brewed by Cotleigh.

Cold food is available at lunchtimes only, including sandwiches, salads and ploughman’s. A highly characterful, distinctive pub that seems to attract a number of middle-class customers from the surrounding area in a way that just would not happen in the North-West.