Waterfront Wonders: 9 Great Pubs for Waterside Dining in the UK

The allure of dining or enjoying a drink by the water is timeless and universal. As the famous quote by Loren Eiseley puts it, "If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water." This sentiment rings true for many, as the experience of eating or drinking near water brings a sense of serenity and joy that complements the flavours of your meal or the notes in your drink. From the calming sound of waves lapping against the shore to the mesmerizing view of a river's gentle flow, being close to water enhances our dining experiences in ways nothing else can – especially when the great British weather decides to be kind and teases us with a little sunshine.

In the UK, where historical pubs are as much a part of the landscape as the rivers and coastlines themselves, finding a spot that combines both is like discovering a hidden treasure. We’ve curated a list of nine great waterside pubs (from a much, much longer list), taking you on a geographical tour from north to south, each offering a unique setting to enjoy a pint or a plate with water views.

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The Stables, Glasgow

Nestled beside the Forth & Clyde Canal, The Stables promises an unforgettable dining experience with its stunning canal-side views. It's the perfect spot to unwind after a walk along the waterway. Dating back to 1812, the Stables pub was exactly that – a stable, used to rest the horses working on the canal. Plus, if you’re not happy being beside the water and want to be on it instead, then you can always hop on one of the many boat trips that operate outside the pub.

The King's Arms, Knowle

A stone's throw away from the historically important Grand Union Canal (and the first of four pubs that we’ve cherrypicked from along the London to the Midlands route), The King's Arms in Knowle is a haven for those seeking a tranquil dining experience. The pub garden offers splendid views of the canal, as well as idyllic waterside dining - a real peaceful retreat to enjoy a meal or a few drinks the next time you visit Knowle.

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The Riverside, Bournemouth

Positioned near the picturesque Tuckton Bridge, The Riverside boasts beautiful views of the River Stour. This pub is a favourite for those looking to bask in the scenic beauty of the river while enjoying a sumptuous meal, and the spacious and relaxing pub garden provides the perfect location for al fresco dining – when the UK weather allows, of course.

The Fishery Inn, Hemel Hempstead

Another great pub overlooking the Grand Union Canal, The Fishery Inn offers a picturesque setting for waterside dining. Whether you’re passing by on a boat or looking for a cozy spot for lunch, it’s a welcoming port of call. And of course, if the weather isn’t kind to you, you’ll find just as enjoyable an experience by heading inside and sampling the great range of classic pub dishes and drinks available.

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The Malt Shovel, Uxbridge

You’ll forgive us for including another waterside pub along the Grand Union Canal when you consider that it’s the main waterway from London to the Midlands, with well over 160 locks to navigate along the way. With that much work involved in traversing it, you’ll be glad of a place like The Malt Shovel, which combines the charm of a traditional pub with the beauty of waterside living. It's an ideal place for those who appreciate fine ales and river views. And if you find you’re a fan of the Malt Shovel, then you’ll find our next pub isn’t a million miles away…

The Coy Carp, Uxbridge

The Coy Carp, our final pub nestled along the banks of the Grand Union Canal, provides a picturesque backdrop for dining and social gatherings and a choice of waterside dining options – the canal itself, where the River Colne or Grand Union Canal meet, or the nearby Pynesfield Lakes. These tranquil water views complement the pub's rustic charm, and like all of our handpicked locations, is just as welcoming come rain or shine.

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The Harts Boatyard, Surbiton

With its stunning location on the River Thames, The Harts Boatyard offers an exceptional dining experience with sweeping river views. It’s a must-visit for those who love waterfront dining or need a change of pace when visiting our capital city. There’s loads of points of interest nearby too, like the oldest surviving bridge in London, the Kingston Museum and the Stanley Picker Gallery.

The Fish and Eels, Hertfordshire

Dating to the early 1800s, this pub is perfect whether you want a lazy time by the river, or prefer something a bit more active and enjoy water sports. Located on the banks of the River Lee, The Fish and Eels is a quintessential English pub offering delightful river views and a menu full of classics. It's ideal for a leisurely meal by the water or refuelling after you’ve worked up an appetite out on it.

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The Old Thameside Inn, London

Finally, for a real slice of history, pop along to this former spice warehouse that dates back to the 16th Century. Perched next to the historic Clink Prison Museum, The Old Thameside Inn presents spectacular views of the River Thames. Its prime location makes it an excellent choice for those exploring London’s riverside – and has been an important stopping off point for traders, importers, exporters and, more recently, diners looking for a great riverside pub. So why not step out onto the boarded decking, and raise a glass to the history of the Old Thameside Inn?

Each of these pubs provides not just a meal or a drink but an experience enhanced by the natural beauty of their waterside settings. Whether you're planning a romantic date night, a family outing, or a solo adventure, these destinations promise memorable moments by the water.