We visit the tucked away country pub with a stunning riverside garden and its own railway station

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It’s just 29 minutes on the train from Bristol Temple Meads to the railway station close to the pub

You could drive or walk there but there are two much better ways to arrive at the Cross Guns. One is via narrowboat along the canal or, best of all, by taking a train straight to the pub’s own railway station.

There are regular trains from Bristol Temple Meads directly to Avoncliff station, a journey that takes just 29 minutes - that’s quicker than most journeys to cross traffic-choked central Bristol.

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Climb a few steps and you find yourself on the Grade II-listed Avoncliff Aqueduct and then it’s a two-minute walk to the pub.

The actual building where the pub is dates back to the 1490s but it became an inn around 1610, firstly as the Carpenter’s Arms when the clientele would have been drovers, quarrymen, travellers and workers from the nearby mills.

The arrival of the Kennet and Avon Canal directly behind the pub was a turning point for the inn, which gained its Cross Guns name in the 18th Century when the 9th (Bradford on Avon) Battalion of the Wiltshire Rifle Volunteers was formed and a rifle range established alongside the canal.

These days, the clientele is more likely to be narrowboat dwellers, walkers, cyclists and tourists drawn to what must rank as one of the most idyllic pub locations for miles.

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And staff are well prepared for whoever walks through the door. There are even jars of dog treats in the bar and a dog water station outside for thirsty pooches.

The cosy real fire at the Cross Guns, which attracts walkers, cyclists and tourists (photo: Mark Taylor)The cosy real fire at the Cross Guns, which attracts walkers, cyclists and tourists (photo: Mark Taylor)
The cosy real fire at the Cross Guns, which attracts walkers, cyclists and tourists (photo: Mark Taylor) | Mark Taylor

The dog-friendly pub has a traditional and welcoming look (photo: Mark Taylor)The dog-friendly pub has a traditional and welcoming look (photo: Mark Taylor)
The dog-friendly pub has a traditional and welcoming look (photo: Mark Taylor) | Mark Taylor

‘Don’t worry about being muddy, we’re used to it,’ laughed the barman as another mud-caked walker stepped nervously into the bar, dirty boots squelching on the wooden boarded floor.

The tiered, lawned riverside garden at the front is a real draw when the weather allows. In the shadows of the vast aqueduct and with the roar of the water flowing over the nearby weir, it makes for a unique setting to enjoy a pint of local ale or Somerset cider in the sun. And if it’s not warm enough, there’s a real fire in the cosy bar.

With a foaming pint of ale in front of me, it was tempting to stay all afternoon next to the crackling fire but I had to dash.

I could see the next train to Bristol was wending its way to Avoncliff station. Now, that’s what I call a door-to-door service.

Cross Guns, Avoncliff, Bradford-on-Avon, BA15 2HB. Tel: 01225 862335.

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