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Cuckoo Inn, Hamptworth

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user reviews of the Cuckoo Inn, Hamptworth

please note - reviews on this site are purely the opinion of site visitors, so don't take them too seriously.

Our first visit in approx. 10 years! A warm welcome, a good range of local and localish beers (2 Hopback, 2 Downton, 1 Palmers and 1 Yeovil) and a good range of proper pup food ie ploughmans, pies, pork pies, soup and sandwiches. The Hopback Summer Lightning and Downton Black Ops were in good condition, the Macaroni Cheese went down well and the regulars were both friendly and entertaining. We knew that the pub had changed hands, and also had had a refurbishment, so our expectations were not particularly high. Had it been spolit? Instead we were just kicking ourselves for not returning sooner. Now earmarked as a regular halt when in the area. Absolutely superb! :)
PlayByAle - 27 Feb 2017 13:48
Visited here and was surprised to see it looked about the same but tidied up after 8 months of difficult refurbishment due to the pub's structure and dampness. Same great atmosphere with friendly locals and ever changing beers chalked up on a board to the left of the bar. My beer was St Austell Tribute which was in fine fettle, my cheese and bacon ciabatta toastie was good too.
Feed - 24 Apr 2016 19:34
The Cuckoo Inn at Hamptworth is re-opening Tuesday 9th June 2015 at 5.30pm
Taliska - 6 Jun 2015 12:01
At present there is much speculation about this grand little pub. I have been a regular user for 40 years so I have no fears about its permanent closure. The rumor mongers, most of whom rarely use the place could not be more wrong. The cuckoo inn will reopen after a much needed refurb, so fear not cuckoo fans, it will return!!!!
gfb56 - 11 Oct 2014 19:37
Breaking news this week. The Cuckoo is being closed this weekend and the manager has been told his services are no longer required.
Allegedly this is for a refurb, but the cynic in me smells a permanent shutdown :( Sad times.
mattnam - 30 Sep 2014 13:35
This is one of my favourite, all-time pubs. This weekend, they had a beer festival, with live music in the garden. I wish all pubs were like this. Needless to say, the beer was exceptional. If you have not visited this amazing pub, you’re missing out. Full of character with friendly staff.
BiffoBeer - 29 May 2013 10:34
I'm pleased to report that things are hopefully settling down for this pub, as a new lease is about to be issued by the estate to one of the 'caretakers' - fingers crossed.

I really enjoyed my first taste of Goddards 'Inspiration' there, .. and no, it doesn't seem to work .. ;-)
trekker308 - 23 Apr 2013 19:49
Sadly, as previously mentioned, the pub is 'between landlords' at the moment. A stand-in crew are trying to keep the place afloat while the estate owners decide what to do. In the summer I can imagine this could be a lovely place, but when we visited last week the place was not particularly inviting. A rather strong smell of 'damp dog' hung in the air and the lack of any heating made for a fairly unpleasant experience. We'd hoped for lunch, but due to circumstances nothing was available (though charmingly, the fish and chip van turns up on Friday evenings to provide a weekly service of grub).

All that said, the barmaid was friendly, the single local who was present was very chatty and my pint of Marston's Pedro was extremely good, served straight from the cask on stillage round the back somewhere.

I truly do hope this place picks up again as I can see it is an unspoilt, gem of a place in a very pretty location with a large garden and tons of character. All it needs is a good landlord.
keystone - 1 Nov 2012 14:35
Tim Bacon will be sadly missed. A gentleman an a true 'mine host'. I always liked him.
wolvesfan - 11 Sep 2012 18:59
RIP. Tim one of the best
nmcc - 3 Jun 2012 14:43
And another thing - the pub has an adults-only garden which is a great idea, even though I came with family.
mtaylor40 - 6 Mar 2012 19:08
Prompted by the last post, I should also plead guilty for failing to post on this classic, which was a highlight of my trip to last year's End of the Road festival. The beers were exceptional, the food was great pub food, and the garden was gorgeous. One of my top 30 UK pubs.
mtaylor40 - 6 Mar 2012 19:06
Unbelievably, I appear to never have reviewed the Cuckoo on BITE, despite having been visiting at least once a year on average since 2000. How horribly remiss of me, because it really does deserve the plaudits it has received from most commentators in the last 8 years or so of reviewing. There are some splendid hideaways in the New Forest area, but few so appealing as this one.

This kind of characterful, traditional rural pub was once typical, although sadly as many have suggested it is now on the endangered list; sure we still retain numerous corking country boozers, but most have to some greater or lesser degree been spoiled or compromised in order to serve more pressing if not higher purposes - quite often sheer survival in a food-driven anti-drink-driving climate. Happily however, the Cuckoo remains gloriously and charmingly aloof from this trend and Tim has not yet felt any need whatsoever to turn his ramshackle, barely-altered boozer for drinkers first into a swanky gastro venture. I should say though that the food that is offered is hearty and homemade, and if you are here and in hunger do not pass the basic but brilliant menu options by.

Ale-wise, I can't say I've had a perfect pint every single time. On 1 or 2 occasions I've opted for a beer that's past its best, but this is testament to just how much cask stuff is shifted here, and quite often when Tim knows a beer is on its uppers it is discounted to a mere 2.50 a pint so could still be worth a sniff. Ordinarily though, I've found the beer to be on barnstorming form - usually at least 1 Bowman's and Hop Back offering feature, alongside 3 or so others often from similarly local breweries. Usually one of the Bowman's is re-badged as a house beer, hence "Cuckoorado" as opposed to "Elderado" etc. Don't be discouraged by this. It is a Good Beer Guide regular for many many years and it will be obvious why upon your visiting. And don't assume this is a pub for 'purist' ale-quaffers only; there is much to delight many diverse types of pubgoer even if ale is not their tipple of choice. Saying that, if you like stark, modern, urban, music and TV-led outlets this won't tickle your fancy. But then with its delightfully symmetrical cottagey exterior and obscure location, anyone of that bent surely would have driven past and ignored it anyway?!

Locals and less-regulars gather - sometimes throng - in the main bar area with more seating out back if needed, and in clement weather in the front garden, where one can relax in full sunshine and enjoy the plentiful wildlife that populates the pub's nooks and crannies and the vegetation around it. One always receives a good welcome - the first time I came here (with family) on a wet Monday in October 2000 we stumbled across a wake of all things, where almost 200 people turned out to pay their respects (when you've been here you'll understand just what an undertaking that was)! Despite not knowing the poor deceased fellow we were still offered free food and weren't treated any differently - needless to say we declined, but that's the kind of spirit one finds at the Cuckoo, even in times of solemnity such as that. This kind of experience demonstrates the timelessness of the place perfectly.

It is quite appalling to imagine this pub crawling with over-curious New Forest tourists snapping endless pictures of the chocolate-box views, but I'd appeal to all those of a more discerning nature with less need to cram your family album to take time to seek it out and try its wares. Disappointment will be a decidedly remote possibility.

TWG - 6 Mar 2012 17:46
I must quote comment by my friend who with me used to visit the Cuckoo back in the early 1960s:

"The Cuckoo was the one with the little shop on the right hand side. I can still remember the old lady who used to come into the bar in her dressing gown and her hair in curlers to fill up her hot water bottle from the kettle hanging over the fireplace. And that table in the middle that was so well scrubbed it had valleys and hills along its length. The gamekeeper with his shotgun and his dog in the bar. Bitter was only 1/8d a pint when is was 2/6d in London."

Oldieone - 28 Oct 2011 11:29
This is a 'proper' country pub, well kept and seems well run. Best of all were the ales served from barrels behind the bar. There were 5 on last night plus a scrumpy, the ones I tried came up well and were very good.
lazonz - 16 Jun 2011 11:52
Not a bad little boozer. Tim Bacon (the Guv'nor) keeps a good pub!! A little disappointed today, as the 'Doom Bar' was below par (excuse the pun Mr. Anderson). Otherwise, the joint is normally good for its beer.
wolvesfan - 26 Apr 2011 18:29
Gorgeous weather today and although not on the way to Romsey for Football later, well worth the visit and a seat in the back garden for contemplation.

Beer festival going on at the moment, a mystery beer which they invite you to guess (Very similar in taste to Sharps Doom Bar)

Had their usual wide range of ales, Mate had a Halcyon Daze which he enjoyed.

Looking forward to my next visit already.
Splodge68 - 23 Apr 2011 18:40
Excellent character pub, a good selection of well kept real ales and a limited range of good food from the kitchen. Unspoilt interior looks like its always been this way with a number of separate rooms in the older style. Friendly locals to chew the fat with too, cannot recommend it highly enough!
Feed - 29 Oct 2010 16:12
you wont find a better pub within 20 miles for real ale, brilliant beer!!
ninjaryder7 - 21 Sep 2009 15:58
Still as good as ever, got there aprox 18:30 on a Monday evening and the gardens were packed already but still beautiful peace & tranquillity prevailed as usual. One of England's finest without any doubt!
MisterX - 4 Jul 2009 10:20
Multiple beers (I think I counted 14), good food, lovely old building, warm welcome and a calm beer-drinking atmoshpere. This pub is excellent by any standard and I agree with previous comments about it rivalling the best pubs in England. Was Salisbury CAMRA's POTY last year I believe, and deservedly so. A must if you're in the New Forrest.
ETA - 14 Apr 2009 11:40
I pretty well agree with all that has been said - excellent as a pub in its own right but also for the choice and quality of beer. The only thing I would take issue with is any implication that because it is famous for its beer and the interior is of the ascetic school of decor it may be of limited appeal. You only have to be there on a fine summers evening to appreciate the eclectic cosmopolitanism of the clientele - walkers, families, farmers and beer dilettantes like me.
tudders - 10 Apr 2009 21:57
Discovered this place on Sunday quite by chance - excellent (I have to agree with everything Saxon_Scooper has said). We only had time for a quick pint, but were made welcome and the beer was excellent.
MartynG - 31 Mar 2009 13:53
18th Century thatched building originally a School and one time village shop has 4 rooms off bar area which has stood in time for a good 50 yrs. 3 good ales on Gravity, Scrumpy & extra guest ales at weekend. Excellent and tastefully added Loos. Nice smoking area/barn which hosts annual Beer Festival in Sept. We like the adults only quiet area for contemplating clouds & good view of golf course. Lovely garden. A quintessential English village pub which has to be on your PTVBYD list! (Pubs To Visit Before You Die). And we were made very welcome!
Reviewed 23/01/09 by SADCATS on Tour! SCORE-.10

Saxon_Scooper - 25 Jan 2009 13:16
Along with the Bridge Inn at Topsham one of the finest pubs in all of England! You will not find a better setting than this to relax and drink. Great conditioned beer range all served from the barrell plus a real cider too. Hopback Summer Lighting is to die for and the food at lunchtimes is superb. I took a friend here for the first time who is not easily impressed and even he said it was probably one of the best pubs that he had ever visited.

I just *love* the quiet areas in the garden too, badly haved children be warned! :-)
MisterX - 4 Aug 2008 12:40
If you like great beer !! superb friendly atmosphere ... excellent bar staff ... a proper british pub that welcomes everyone, with great locals ... then dont come here it's a shit hole.

............. only kiddin this place is awesome and i really mean everything i said ... look out for the fifty odd fantastic local beers at the annual beer fes in september .... mmmmm beeeer !
fattyfattyboomboom - 10 Jul 2008 17:08
Quite possibly the best pub I've found in my 40 years. Great beer (Cuckoo), excellent lunch (Stilton Baguette), and extremely welcoming lady serving both.
Previous comment re log fires is spot on, as is the likeness of the hostelry to the Vine, & the S & C.

MuddyDogs - 19 Apr 2008 12:55
I was amazed that this pub was not in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide, it is now as I and several friends sent in recommendations.
One of the few unspoilt pubs in the area and worth a visit.
A pub as a pub should be. Good beer plus and excellent choice of some unusual ales. Difficult to know what they area as the Landlord seems to chalk up anything on the board and you have to guess what they are!
Ideally you should get a taxi here or arrange to camp nearby, you won't want to leave until you have tried all the beers on offer.
Keep flying the real ale flag. Well done guys.
inkywebber - 11 Nov 2007 19:47
Went here for sunday lunch today following a walk around langley wood. The pub was praised for its food and ambience in the walking book we had with us so we thought it would be a good bet for a roast. The pub itself is very pretty from the outside, with a thatched roof and a garden full of flowers. It is a bit of a locals pub, but unlike some has a very friendly atmosphere. Quite small inside but has plenty of seating in the pub garden, including a "meditation and cloud spotting" child-free area! Staff were very friendly and helpful. However, the downside was that they only did baguettes, ploughmans and pasty with baked beans. The baguettes can ploughmans did come in about six varieties (such as stilton or pate or tuna or brie etc). However, we were a little disappointed. The food we had (ploughmans) were very nice though. Staff were very nice too and the pub is a very charming building.
Annie7788 - 15 Jul 2007 20:18
Wonderful little pub I'd wanted to go to since reading of it in What's Brewing. A good pint, a good light lunch, and nice locals & landlord combined to make me want to return. The Pub With No Name, the Gales Brewery tap, The Cuckoo, and a tour at Hopback...not a bad day's work!
martineaux - 17 May 2007 04:55
One of the few unaltered (the gents is now inside) New Forest pubs, best visited in the summer. Beer festival early September from Thursday to Sunday. Food limited quite rightly to basic pub grub at very reasonable prices, but you dont really go her for the food. Been visting for the last 30 years.
oldlocal - 27 Feb 2007 21:39
Yes it's a very quaint old pub. But DO NOT go here for lunchtime food (they only do pasties - the ploughmans are a summer speciality only). Apart from that:- yes it's a bit of a 'time-warp', only the prices are 21st century!
satisfied - 30 Jan 2007 10:37
We drove here one warm summer evening last year and we amazed at how nice this tiny pub is. Mine host was like a one man cabaret act - very witty and charming. A true gem of a pub which hopefully will always stay that way. They even sell jars of pickles etc on the bar - now how many pubs do that !!
musicjunkie - 7 May 2006 15:40
Used to live near here and it was my local then. Visit it during the summer and the atmosphere never changes. Nice to see my old friends there. The pub has its own cricket team who play on the Hampworth Estate, not exactly Test match standard but one of the nicest grounds you could ask for.
Ellie_I - 9 Feb 2006 17:06
A fantastic "proper" pub! Lots of excellent ales and a huge ploughmans. Enjoy!
shroom - 3 Aug 2005 10:46
An excellent lunch time stop was enjoyed here on a recent visit.
mactavish - 10 May 2005 14:21
An outstanding little pub. The Summer Lightening is marvellous and setting and atmosphere and could not be better.
christophe - 8 May 2005 16:56
This is a really special pub. Thatched roof, stone floors. Excellently maintained real ale - between 4 and 7 usually available. Standards are Summer Lightning (Hopback), 6X (Wadworths), Cuckoo(?). No music, no one-arm bandit. Basic food. The winter sees a lovely log fire in the main bar(accomodating about 10 people). Two smallers bars, the back one welcomes children. Dogs allowed to room freely inside but need to be controlled in the garden as children play freely in the summer. Open all day sat and sun. Beer festival in september (last one had 40+ ales). Currently landlord Tim (as of apr 05) very welcoming. Over the 15 years I have been visiting this place there have only been 3 landlords (2 in same family). To my mind that says something in itself.
alan0659 - 13 Apr 2005 11:53
A beautiful pub on the edge of the New Forest in Hamptworth, Wiltshire. The Cuckoo, a thatched roofed 18th century cottage, has a decent selection of real ales (and ciders) with a pleasant family garden, in a fabulous setting. Well worth a visit
gnome79 - 28 Mar 2005 00:04
The Cuckoo is sadly one of those rare pubs, which is only appreciated by the purist. I know of only two others in this area - and they are the Square and Compass at Worth Matravers and the Vine in Pamphill.
Peter Froude - pfroude@cwctv.net - 31 Oct 2004 19:49
Excellent pub. The landlord is friendly and generous, the surroundings 'real', not pretentious. Think of 'The Crow' in the film 'Withnail and I' and you have it. No tarty meals, but huge blocks of cheese and wedges of bread capable of filling the stomachs of anyone. Good, pared down food and drink; no fuss. Thanks for paying attention to the importance of real fires; certainly log fires are even MORE welcoming than coal! (Or both?)
Will - 10 Oct 2004 20:21
The Cuckoo is only for the purist, as it is off the beaten track. It is mainly a farmer's pub with no tourists. This converted cottage has a friendly landlord, and equally friendly customers. When you enter you are instantly made welcome. These country places, can so easily see you as a suspicious stranger - but not the Cuckoo. The customers walk around in "wellies" and they have dogs. A place like this, does not have to welcome dogs as they are a part of the scene. The real ale comes from casks from the back - and they love to sell it in jugs. The Cuckoo however is difficult to find, and it is only for the serious pub hunter. Anyway! Hamptworth comes from the fact that they once grew hemp there - but only for the navy.
Peter Froude - pfroude@cwctv.net - 12 Dec 2003 17:10

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