Flanked by the tranquil waterways of the Grand Union Canal and the River Colne, the Swan & Bottle in Uxbridge is an old fishing inn, said to have been established since the days of Charles I.
With its whitewashed exterior and waterside location, The Swan & Bottle is a long-established fishing inn, on Oxford Road, in Uxbridge. Perched between the tranquil waterways of the Grand Union Canal and the River Colne, in sight of the historic Grade II listed Uxbridge Lock, The Swan & Bottle has a soothing charm all of its own.
In the June 1901 edition of The Anglo Saxon Review, the Reverend William John Loftie wrote of how becalming he found “those gabled houses, those long bridges, that placid stream, and the trees and gardens round that old fishing-inn, the Swan and Bottle”. And on summer afternoons, when the sunshine stretches out across the cheerily weary walkers in the spacious beer garden, it’s hard to disagree.
The Swan & Bottle is just a short stroll from the 27,500 acre Colne Valley Park, home to several Sites of Special Scientific Interest. Denham Lock Wood, for example, is a wet woodland haven for blue fliers, including damselflies and kingfishers, as well as being home to the rare Desmoulin's whorl snail. Likewise, Frays Farm Meadows, is home to snipes, cuckoos and barn owls. All year round, visitors return from wonderful walks in these abundant nature reserves, to enjoy a delicious pub meal and a pint of cask ale. Even during winter, when the roaring log fires and candle-lit tables provide a pleasant ambience in which to unwind weary muscles.
Steps at the rear of The Swan & Bottle car park lead down to the Grand Union Canal. By crossing the little white-brick, hump-backed bridge at the Uxbridge Lock, walkers can join the London Outer Orbital Path (LOOP), a 150-mile route through parks, woodlands and fields round Outer London.
Follow the LOOP on a sunny day, past old locks, brightly painted narrowboats and blackberry bushes, and it will take you to towards Harefield, home of the world famous heart hospital, and before that the village of Denham, leafy location for several episodes of Midsomer Murders. At Denham Country Park, you can also divert onto the South Bucks Stroll, and enjoy a pleasant jaunt along the River Misbourne, where you may catch sight of the rare wild brown trout or water vole, darting through the chalk stream.
Whichever way you head, you can always count on a warm welcome, a delicious freshly cooked meal and a glass of something refreshing on your return to The Swan & Bottle.
It’s not clear precisely when The Swan & Bottle was established. There is a theory that suggests its elongated shape and unusual name could be due to it once being two pubs, “The Leather Bottle” and “The Old Swan”. Another says that Charles I may have passed the pub, as he fled the New Model Army from Oxford, towards Hillingdon in 1646. Whilst it’s impossible to confirm these accounts, it is certainly true that Uxbridge was the setting for failed negotiations between Charles I and the Parliamentary Army during the English Civil War.
Although it’s not directly referenced in the Domesday Book, Uxbridge is known to have been established a daughter settlement of Hillingdon, which is. And since the Middle Ages, it has been a prosperous town. During the 16th century Uxbridge was a major corn market, while the coaching trade thrived during the 18th century, leading to the opening of the Grand Union Canal between 1798 and 1805.
When German Zeppelins raided London in autumn 1917, air-raid refugees fled the capital to Uxbridge, and on the 30th September, thirty-six took shelter in the recreation room of the Swan & Bottle. Then, in 1918, the Royal Air Force moved into Hillingdon House, and it became the station of RAF Uxbridge. A bunker was in built in 1939 to house the Operations Room, and from here the Battle of Britain was coordinated.
The Swan and Bottle makes an ideal stop-off or starting point for the many interesting and accessible walks around Colne Valley Park and onto Buckinghamshire and beyond, taking in everything from verdant grasslands and rolling meadows to tranquil waterways. It’s also the perfect place to share a meal with sons, daughters or friends studying at Brunel University, which is just a five-minute walk away.
The pub serves sumptuous traditional pub food, as well as an ever-changing menu of seasonal specials, and delicious Sunday roast dinners with all the trimmings. Whether you dine indoors, watching the world go by from one of the bay window tables, or sitting outside in the charming beer garden, you’re sure to appreciate this little haven of calm amidst the urban sprawl.