12 cosy pubs for chilly days
Order something stodgy, pour a large glass of red and relax in front of the fire - it's time to hunker down in the best pubs in Devon.
The Cadeleigh Arms, Cadeleigh nr Tiverton
Hello dog-friendly Top 50 Estrella Damm gastropub! Chef Nick is all about showcasing south west food producers, so expect top-quality nosh with a big fat nod to seasonal comfort in the menu, which currently includes wood pigeon breast with blackberry, Moroccan lamb burger in a pretzel bun. Book us in, pronto.
The Nobody Inn, Doddiscombsleigh
Here’s a Devon classic on the edge of Dartmoor as delightful as its name. The Nobody Inn harks back to the 13th century, as you can tell by its low beams and brasses over the wood-burner. It’s known for its extensive range of whiskeys and wines by the glass. (Over 250? That’ll do nicely!) Should you fancy sampling a few, there are five comfy rooms upstairs.
The Thatched Tavern, Maidencombe
Much more glamorous than you’d expect from your usual coastal village pub, thanks to a refurb just before lockdown. You can tuck yourself way in a quiet corner to eat or sit in the larger dining room – it’s all lovely – and the food is great.
The Beer Engine, Newton St Cyres
Housed in a 19th Century coaching inn, Devon’s oldest working brew pub is rightly cherished by locals and a mecca for beer fans, as owners Will and Vicki brew downstairs (you can have a nose through the viewing gallery). Think proper Devon pub, always welcoming and ever-excellent nosh, including a fabulous veggie roast and the option to have most of the menu gluten-free.
The Fat Pig, Exeter
Escape the city’s madding crowd at this teeny backstreet pub tucked away on John Street. Exeter’s only brewpub, distillery and smokehouse, it’s a hidden gem with a small but locally-focussed menu, including things like pulled pork (from their own reared piggies), fish and chips, homemade crumble and slap-up roasts on Sunday, plus local beers and cider brewed on site. Should be better known so tell your mates!
The Cott Inn, Dartington
Welcoming guests, they say, since 1320AD, this rustic thatched pub has nailed the year-round appeal with its al fresco kitchen and patio heaters but now’s the time to book indoors by the fire, to admire the seasonal dried blooms on the windowsills and tuck into a lip-smacking Sunday roast of Devon reared-meat or line caught fish.
Church House Inn, Rattery, South Brent
This olde-worlde pub has been brought tastefully up to date with a fairy-lit dining room and tasty local pub classics on the menu, from Ruby red rib, crispy pork belly and a good range of fish, including John Dory and monkfish. There’s said to be an ancient tunnel leading from pub to the church but owners John and William have yet to find it (nor the resident ghost). But they have found themselves a shiny-new Gold Award from Food Drink Devon proudly displayed on the bar.
The Coppa Dolla Inn, Broadhempston
Who ate all the pies? You will once you’ve tasted owners James and Ann’s legendary 2-in-1 pie (passed down from James’ parents original recipe). It’s a half and half mix of creamy cauliflower and your choice of meat or veggie filling, including steak and ale and their wonderful homity. Best scoffed in front of a roaring fire under the hanging copper kettles and washed downed with a local cider.
The Pig’s Nose Inn, East Prawle
This quirky 300 year-old inn and one-time smugglers’ lair on Devon’s most southerly tip is known for its amazing ability to bring in big names for its live music (hello Damon Albarn and Atomic Kitten). It’s also a surefire hit for winter, filled with characterful nick-necks, roaring fires and hearty pub grub from the Devon farming and fishing community.
The Ring of Bells, Cheriton Fitzpaine
An under-the-radar pub near Crediton which Muddy visited when we overnighted at the excellent glamping stay of nearby Orchard Retreat. It’s one of those quaint village pubs who double down on a small menu really well, and change it regularly to keep the locals coming back. Their autumn offering includes Chicken & Leek Terrine, Roasted Onion, Marjoram & Aged Gouda Tart with a pumpkin puree, and Sticky Toffee Pudding with a Butterscotch Sauce. Worth setting the satnav for, let’s go!
The Farmers Arms, Woolsery
Not long ago this North Devon pub and restaurant had a tree growing out of the roof. Now thanks to a wealthy former local it is full of hygge, cosily restored by local craftspeople with the local stone, and wood with homemade snacks on the bar and a team of foraging chefs serving the likes of 50-day aged Exmoor beef, grilled Blackwell Farm trout with sweet cicely and lemon verbena butter and dark chocolate baked custard. Read the Muddy review then book in for Sunday lunch with the family very soon, we say.
The Oxenham Arms, South Zeal, Okehampton
On a cold autumn day, there are few places more more cosy and welcoming than this historic coaching inn on Dartmoor. The atmospheric creeper-covered building is beautiful inside and out, and being in what was an old monastery has an ancient 5000-year old standing stone at its heart. The menu is full of crowd-pleasing pub classics with sumptuous roasts (including vegan) on Sundays. And you’re in prime walking country, so don’t forget your hiking boots!