There's a lot to be said for walking and slightly more to be said for drinking. So to avoid any argument, Time Out put the two together to create the perfect bank holiday activity: bar trekking. Time Out guides you along four beer-oriented capital walks:
Walk to Kew Green
Distance four miles
Pub count seven
Start at Isleworth railway station (trains from Waterloo or Clapham Junction), turn right out of the entrance and right again into Linkfield Road under the rail bridge. The Red Lion (1) is a few minutes walk down on the left – a huge rambling building with an eclectic, partly tiled exterior, with two large rooms, each with a range of drinking areas, serving Young’s bitter and guest beers.
Leaving the Red Lion, continue down to the end of Linkfield Road. Turn right, and almost immediately turn left by the river bridge into the ancient route of Mill Plat, which is now a pedestrian-only alleyway. Pass the Ingram Almshouses, a terrace of homes built in 1664 by Sir Thomas Ingram, and emerge by the site of the old mill in old Isleworth village. Go left here through the old village street down to the London Apprentice (2). This large and attractive Georgian pub takes its name from the City livery company apprentices, who occasionally rowed up on their days off and stopped here. The riverside setting is a charming place to drink beer, which is from Fuller’s and Courage.
Just along the riverside, past the church, the Thames Path is well signposted as it turns right into Syon Park. Walk up the roadway past the Butterfly House and through the park. The Thames Path emerges on the busy A315 just west of Brentford High Street. Turn right, pass two or three pubs and the Grand Union Canal bridge, before reaching the Magpie & Crown (3). There are usually four regularly changing beers on tap and it is a source of pride to the pub that more than 1,500 beers have been sold here since 1996. In addition to the real ales, the pub sells foreign beers, some on draught, plus cider and perry.
Continue east along the High Street for a short while then, before the traffic lights, turn right down Catherine Wheel Road. Just when you think you’ve strayed in error upon a tormented landscape of commercial premises, you come unexpectedly upon the Brewery Tap (4). This is yet another Fuller’s house, whose name refers to a long-defunct brewery, and it retains some vestige of its former multi-roomed layout. It’s a community local that combines good beer with varied food.
Upon leaving, a narrow path opposite leads across a creek to the Grand Union Canal. Climb back up to the bridge. Turn left on to the cobbled street, which brings you back to the dismal main road by the supermarket. The Thames Path turns right and drops back to the river, finally emerging at Kew Bridge. Follow the signs carefully.
Across the road ahead, right on the busy interchange, is the Express Tavern (5). Here, you’ll find well-kept beers in a tastefully decorated pub. Although greatly remodelled, its past character persists. The rear room, with 1930s features, is particularly handsome. Refreshment courtesy of Young’s and Draught Bass (the latter is long established here – note the dinky pump clip) and there are usually one or two guest beers, too. Food is only available at lunchtimes. Be aware that the Express closes in the afternoon, so if you arrive during the interregnum, it’s best to go ahead to the other pubs on this walk, and return here later.
From the Express Tavern, cross the bridge and walk down the main road to Kew Green. This is the centre of the old village but is now riven in two by the nasty South Circular road. Here, set back a little from the road, is the Coach & Horses (6), an upmarket Young’s hotel. Inside, there’s a spacious L-shaped bar, traditionally panelled, with an adjacent room on the left, set aside as a restaurant with fish specialities. Outside there’s a big garden.
To finish this long but hopefully rewarding trail, turn left out of the Coach & Horses and stroll up Kew Road on the right past the traffic lights. At the next set of lights turn left, past the line of trendy cafés and boutiques, to the Inn at Kew Gardens (7). Formerly the Kew Gardens Hotel, this was acquired by the Capital Pub Company in 2004 and has been taken firmly upmarket. Nonetheless, despite an emphasis on food and wine, there are six handpumps and a good variety of well-kept beers from some of the larger brewers. The handsome exterior with its columned entrance portico is complemented by a bright and spacious interior that says ‘aspiring gastropub’, a statement backed up by the presence of sofas and the odd three-wheeled buggy in the public bar. Return to Kew Gardens station for services to Clapham Junction and central London via Richmond.