Published: 11:30, 12 July 2019
Climbing out of the sewer, I scrambled up the bank and, after checking I was still in Kent, headed through the front gate of the Ferry Inn at Stone-in-Oxney.
I don’t think the bar staff are used to punters arriving by kayak, particularly after they’ve become totally lost, so we were treated to semi-celebrity status.
It might be close to the Sussex border and bordered on one side by Reading Sewer, but you won’t find many more delightful country haunts than this one.
I haven’t paddled to many pubs so far this summer so it was a happy accident that saw us take a wrong turn off the Royal Military Canal and up the sewer.
Landlord Paul was concerned enough to pop out personally to see where we’d landed and share his geographical knowledge to put us back on track.
But, I’m leaping ahead - having checked we were the right side of the county line we both opted for a pint of the 3.8% Oxney Ale from the Westerham Brewery. Not quite as local as the name suggests, but a very decent house ale nonetheless. It is a pleasant, dark golden colour with a creamy texture and, as the taste isn’t overpowering, it would make a good session beer.
The menu was varied and interesting but we couldn’t see beyond the soup of the day and opted for this along with a portion of chips. French onion, with a decent portion of floating bread and cheese, it was a meal in itself and deliciously salty.
Paul is determined to keep the pub going for the benefit of the village but admits it’s a big challenge to find good staff. However, he says he’s been lucky recently and signed up a great chef. By the time I’d sampled the sticky toffee pudding I totally agreed.
A favourite haunt of smugglers in the 17th century, you are surrounded by history at the inn – the large inglenook fireplace still has seats at both ends and hops hang from many of the beams.
Bringing you back up to date with a jolt there’s a blackboard over the bar proudly displaying the number of days since Brexit was last mentioned – it was set at three days and we didn’t want to spoil it for them.
There’s also a decent sized pike in a glass case in one corner and judging by some of the fish we saw jumping in the sewer it could easily have been caught locally.
Darts, pool and a large TV screen are all contained in a separate room to the left hand side of the pub, leaving the main bar purely for drinking, eating and chatting – how very civilised.
However you arrive, four wheels, Shanks’s pony or gliding gracefully down the sewer I can heartily recommend you pause a while at the Ferry Inn.