No-one believes it, but I can get to Durham quicker (and cheaper mid-week) than West London’s suburbs. Three hours to Sunbury, but of course it’s worth it to see the UK’s fourth greatest city.

Sunbury Roundabout – modern urban design at its best

I felt a bit cheated.  Sunbury-on-Thames in the Beer Guide normally means this;

The real Sunbury

A smart dining pub with riverside views and the ubiquitous Naked Ladies is now obligatory for Sunbury, but there isn’t one this year. Instead we have a smart dining pub with the ubiquitous London Pride in a scruffy bit of Feltham.

I decided to re-evaluate Feltham before the Hare & Hounds opened.  I’ll spare you the tattered Chelsea flags and playing fields; the main building of interest on the way up Cadbury Road is the BP Head Office, but I appreciate it’s a marginal pleasure unless you’re a fan of corporate glass.

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In my first year in the NHS I was sent to Feltham to learn how to switch on computers (I’d forgotten a couple of years later, but married well shortly thereafter), and had to spend the night in a scary B&B. As a 22 year old old who’d hardly left the Fens, if left some scars. I don’t remember braving any of the pubs that night, but found a decent Chinese takeaway.

If only they’d had the flashy new Travelodge (£94 tonight, unbelievably) back then. I presume it serves as an emergency room when your flight from Heathrow gets cancelled.  If that happens, I recommend that you try the well-established Wetherspoons at least.  The beer wasn’t better than OK (Hooky/Yeastie collab NBSS 2.5), but the atmosphere was buoyant.

Apart from the local beers they had the Eton Rifles craft keg as well. The enterprising beer range may reflect the manager’s own tastes but I suspect real ale sales here are at levels closer to Corby than Chorlton. Other beer sales were rather stronger.

The beers people drink (mainly Abbot) are out of picture

The two barmen were cheerful and chatty with customers, a great advert for Spoons in a terrific location for observing early morning English drinking.  No EU chat here either.

I attempted to follow the Feltham Heritage trail for a bit.  This consists of a few old buildings round the pond, including this one with a phone box and bathtub. The signs for the Heritage trail petered out a bit around the back of Domino’s Pizza, but re-emerged at St Dunstans.

Slim pickings in the weirdness stakes

Back in Sunbury, the Hare & Hounds is a real oddity.  Fullers have clearly given a fairly plain suburban pub a major glamming-up, mirroring what John Barras have done at the Golden Hind in Cambridge. It feels very out of place.

Nice pub, …

That said, it’s gorgeous, inside and out, and the manager was another gem.  A slight shame, then, that the Pride wasn’t drinking well. A braver person would have gone for the ESB, and a pint at that.

Feltham isn’t for the fainthearted but it is incredibly friendly, which counts for a lot.


  1. As a native of the Fens, are there spots you would recommend? Whittlesey looks interesting. We have traveled most places in the UK, but not the Fens. The book “Waterland” has created some interest on my part. We have been to Ely, but nowhere that I would consider true fenland. Again, love the blog.


    1. I don’t like flat places Dave, but there are folk who enjoy the sunsets (and birdwatching) around

      The drive from Ely through Welney to Outwell goes along the Ouse banks on the way to Wisbech, which is still very attractive.
      Spalding is worth a trip for the flowers, probably best in May
      Pubs aren’t a good reason to visit the Fens !



      1. You don’t like flat places? Why on Earth would you come to Feltham then? It’s the flattest part of the ceremonial county of Middlesex, and only a few feet more above Ordnance Datum than the Fenlands!

        Thanks for the decent write-up of my home town though.


      2. Hi Matt. I visit everywhere, and go to all the pubs in the Beer Guide. Feltham was one of the friendliest places I’ve been to for a while, and good for a quick stroll.


      3. I love visiting the Fens probably because it is so different the the urban and industrial area i live in.
        I have done quite a few pubs crawl there either on my own of with the wife and one with my brother picking up some rural Elgoods tied houses.
        Did March, Ely and Kings Lynn with the wife,ive done Spalding,Holbech and Wisbech twice and done quite a few small villages like Fleet hargate,Holbech Hurn,plus most villages around Wisbech.
        I do disagree with your last sentence,i would really like to do more pubs i have seen on my travels in the Fens,there were some nice looking pubs near and around Friday Bridge which were not Elgoods tied houses so did not do,but i will get round some day to do them.
        I would not like to live there but as a visitor i really like it.


      4. I’m always happy to be corrected, particularly by you Alan, having been to so many pubs I haven’t !

        I think you’re probably right that places round Wisbech are more pubby and less about food than other parts of the country. As you say, places locals take for granted are better when you’re a tourist !


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