A beer garden that's stranded at high tide, the place where the Mayflower set sail from, and the world's smallest bar. London's best waterside pubs...
Sunset on the terrace of the White Cross in Richmond. Photo My Bathroom Wall
There is nothing better on a Summer's day to seek out of of London's many river and canal side pubs and bars. There are dozens of them, all grand for watching life on the water and for enjoying its cooling atmosphere. Here are five corkers...
The White Swan: a magnificent village pub in Twickenham overlooking Eel Pie Island and the grounds of Ham House. It's delightfully bucolic, brimming with bonhomie, and has the cutest garden terrace and grassy slipway at the front - ideal for summer lounging by the Thames. The terrace is surrounded by water at high tides - only for an hour or so - and a marooned sup is part of the summer fun. The clientele are a friendly bunch of dog walkers, rugby and rowing types - though it turns raucous on Twickenham match days and at the July pub-run raft race. www.thewhiteswanlondon.com
The Mayflower: pick a nook and prepare to be seduced by London's cosiest riverside drinking den. The flickering of antique lanterns gives the perfect glow and high-backed alcove seating makes chatting to strangers deliciously unavoidable. The pub is tucked away behind the Brunel Museum in Rotherhithe, by the wharf where the Mayflower ship set sail from in 1620, en route to Plymouth and the Americas. Its authentic patina has been augmented with blocks & tackle, splays of candlesticks and other assorted nauticalia, while the overwater terrace is a plum summer drinking spot and has a heated marque over it in winter. www.mayflowerpub.co.uk
The Palm Tree: this rollicking East End boozer is right by the Regent's Canal and surrounded by the Mile End Park. Step back in time and marvel at the bygone fittings; pleated red curtains above the horseshoe shaped bar, an ancient cash register that still goes "kerching", and an East End Fives dart board - peculiar looking with just 12 segments. Punters include students from the nearby Queen Mary University and plenty of East End characters. Foremost of whom are Valerie and Alf: they've run the place since 1977, dispensing exquisitely timed quips and good humour. There's live jazz and crooning for knees ups and sing-alongs at the weekends.
The Crate: opened in 2012 in a former factory by the Lea Navigation and Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, the Crate is a rambunctious hipster hangout. Hackney Wick has the largest number of art studios in Europe and the clientele are suitably à la mode, here for the outstanding brewed-on-site beers, seven flavours of stone-baked pizza, and the superb cultural craic. Inside is trendy too, with exposed breeze block walls, light fittings of bare bulbs in bedsprings, and unisex toilets. Outside, the large area of trestle tables heaves in summer, facing the canal boats and graffiti art. www.cratebrewery.com
The Dove: well-heeled locals and lucky passer's by stop here for the Fuller's ales and good food served across three small rooms and a handsome conservatory. There's a barrel of history and quirk on offer too, with walls smothered in photographs of old London. Enter the unmarked door to the right - and outside - of the main entrance and you'll squeeze into the smallest bar in the world - just 4ft by 8ft. The music sheet on the wall in the main bar is Rule Britannia, written in 1720 by Dove regular James Thomson. Other tipplers of note have included Charles II and Nell Gwynn, Alec Guinness and Dylan Thomas, James May and Bill Bailey. The beer's local too, and you can see the chimney at Fullers Brewery from the two-tier terrace. www.dovehammersmith.co.uk