|» Gloucestershire » Tunnel House Inn, Coates|
Sir John Betjeman, the Poet Laureate, once said of the pub,'my father took me here as a child and the romance of the place has never diminished for me'. The pub is certainly in an idyllic location with views across the fields and a real air that you are in the middle of nowhere, that is unless they've got the rugby on in the adjacent 'Barn' that you can hire out for parties and wedding receptions etc. We came across the pub by accident really. We were desperate to find a campsite somewhere in the Cotswolds that was about half way in between Birmingham and Weybridge in Surrey near a train line that goes to London. Campsites in the Cotswolds seem to be somewhat few and far between. The pub however offers camping in a small field by some woods behind the pub for nominal cost with use of a cold water tap and the pub toilets. There aren't any showers but it's well worth spending the night there and waking up to the sound of singing birds and a distinct lack of the urban background roar of traffic. Even so, there is a railway line not too far away but the line didn't seem that busy.
Anyhow, the staff were very friendly and welcoming. The pub was built in the 1780's to house the workers that built the Sapperton canal tunnel, the entrance of which is but 30 yards or so from the front door of the pub. The canal is regretfully disused though a length has been reinstated and trips into the tunnel are still run in the summer. Regretfully also the pub was damaged by fire in the 1950's though its still a very welcoming establishment to visit.
The Good Pub Guide describes the pub as having a 'very relaxed management style' and this was certainly evident during our visit. Fortunately though the two real ales (Archers and Smiles brewery) on offer were in good condition. Foodwise they've a wide range of fairly simple food on offer in the very comfortable interior. They often have barbecues outside and had one on while we were there on a sunny Sunday in May. I should imagine the pub is very cosy in the winter with 2 log fires and lots of well worn sofas and armchairs dotted around and old magazines to read.
There's a wide mix of clientele from students from the nearby Royal Agricultural College to local villagers along with other visitors from far and wide like ourselves just wishing to escape from the urban jungle for a day or so.
Very pleasant walks can be had in the local area. The start of the River Thames is only 2 or 3 miles walk away though it wasn't flowing while we were there!
Just a quick apology, erm, we gate-crashed Miles's 30th birthday party in the 'Barn' during the May Bank Holiday in 1999 after closing time......