Alehouses, inns and the old-fashioned traditional British pub have part of British life ever since the Romans first laid the ancient roads and tollways which criss-cross the country. By the 1800s pubs had become an integral part of British towns and villages and many such pubs from the halcyon days of drinking are still in business. Order a pint, grab a newspaper and relax by an open fireside to enjoy one of Britain's great cultural pursuits – a drink down at the pub.
Pride of a nation
Wales is home to some of the most dramatic scenery in Britain. From the soaring snow-capped peaks of Snowdonia to the eerie slag heaps of its abandoned coal mines, this once Celtic land abounds with arresting sites. Tucked away amidst the forests of the Wye Valley is one of Wales' most unique pubs, The Boat Inn at Penallt, which is accessed via a disused railway bridge over the brooding River Wye. Another of Wales' most famous drinking establishments is The Groes Inn in Conwy. Dating back to 1573, it was the first licensed house in Wales and has played host to countless famous dignitaries – including the fourth Duke of Wellington.
A wee dram
Scotland and drinking seem to go hand in hand, though it's a dram of Scotch most travellers are keen to handle on their trip to Bonnie Scotland. In a nation famous for the smoky strains of its peat-fuelled whisky, Scotland naturally boasts its fair share of atmospheric pubs. The Clachaig Inn in Glencoe is dwarfed by the dramatic backdrop of the Scottish Highlands, while The Old Forge in faraway Inverie is considered the most remote pub in mainland Britain. The rain-drenched streets of gun-barrel grey Edinburgh play host to plenty of back-alley inns, the oldest of which is reputed to be The Sheep Heid Inn – in continuous operation since 1360.
Ye olde English inn
There are few things more quintessentially English than a traditional English pub. Many are throwbacks to an era when coaching inns sprung up along the old Roman roads to service an increasingly mobile medieval population. These days country pubs are fewer in number but those that remain are often vital community institutions. The Gaggle of Geese in Buckland Newtown is an old-world country pub featuring an open fire and a resident gaggle of geese. Ye Olde Fighting Cocks in St Albans is just one of several public houses to claim the title of England's oldest pub, while The Nobody Inn in rural Doddiscombsleigh is so named because the coffin of a former landlord was discovered to be empty when the pub hosted his wake!