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Secret Drinker reviews the Black Horse pub at Thurnham, near Bearsted

What a place to start my quest as a secret drinker – is this the quintessential British pub to beat all others? If not, I’d like to know what is.

I came across The Black Horse Inn purely by chance, but I’ll definitely be back to sample its delights again. And, I’ll drag all my American cousins and Aussie mates along as there can’t be a better example of a proper British boozer.

Add that to the fact it sits firmly and squarely on the Pilgrims Way and you’ve got a history and English lesson all wrapped up in one.

Relaxed and unpretentious, the Black Horse sits in the shadows of the North Downs
Relaxed and unpretentious, the Black Horse sits in the shadows of the North Downs

In keeping with tradition I started my visit with a classic pint of Red Top from the Old Dairy Brewery at Tenterden. At 3.8% it’s not over powerful, but tastes stronger than the number suggests. A good earthy aroma and a deep fruity taste with more than a hint of chocolate.

The place is plastered with dried hops and there are logs stuffed into every nook and cranny, including the entrance porch - the open fires must be great on a winter’s evening.

There are even stools fashioned from old fashioned milk churns and a candle in a Tattinger bottle on every table.

If you're coming by train, the pub is a bit of a hike from Bearsted but well worth the effort
If you're coming by train, the pub is a bit of a hike from Bearsted but well worth the effort

With a packed restaurant and a notice on the wall reading ‘Our Kitchen – God gave us the ingredients, the Devil gave us the chefs’ if would have been rude not to try the food.

Chilli, ginger and garlic prawns followed by a smoked burger with all the trimmings and a dark chocolate and peanut butter tart. All excellent and served with a wide smile. Don’t drop the menu on your toe though, with a wooden cover it’s a hefty beast.

Special mention must go to the incredibly flamboyant local fellow who spent the whole evening gently insulting all the bar staff before gathering up his long, flowing pink scarf and, with his bracelets and necklaces clanking noisily headed into the night.

There's also a decent sized garden and seating area
There's also a decent sized garden and seating area

He was only upstaged by his companion – a massive ball of white fluff sporting a bright red light-up collar, I think it was a Samoyed by the name of Potts. Either way, dogs are definitely welcomed in the bar.

The gents was fresh and clean with the smallest sinks possible, but you do get great smelling hand cream.

If you want to stay overnight, single rooms start at £75, doubles from £95 plus another tenner for your faithful hound. This must be the perfect place to end a decent dog walk.

No need to say more, you’ll find all the history you could possibly want on the incredibly detailed website www.blackhorsekent.co.uk

Nine Kent pubs packed with the weird and the wonderful

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The Black Horse is close to the bottom of Detling Hill
The Black Horse is close to the bottom of Detling Hill

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