IT is the battle of the pubs.

Ten watering holes from across southern Hampshire have been nominated for CAMRA’s (Campaign for Real Ale’s) pub of the year title – with three within walking distance of each other.

The Junction Inn in Priory Road, the Rockstone and the Guide Dog in Bevois Valley are within a mile and a half of each other.

Last year the Junction Inn was in the running but had to pull out after a fire. Now owner Martin Gentry, 54, is hoping they can celebrate a return by taking home the award.

He said: “It is a privilege to be nominated again after the fire and to be recognised. It would mean the world to us if we won.”

But the Junction Inn faces stiff competition in the form of the Guide Dog in Earls Road, Bevois Valley, which has won the competition six times in the last eight years.

Landlord of the Guide Dog, Paul Barden, 57, who runs the pub with partner Margaret, has overseen five of the last seven wins.

He said: “This is the award that we want to win and getting the award attracts people to the pub and the area.”

But Mr Barden is also delighted that pubs nearby have been nominated too. He added: “The Junction Inn and the Rockstone are great pubs and I think the competition is tougher than ever this year. I would be surprised if we won.”

The other pubs nominated for the award are the Wellington Arms in Freemantle, the Black Horse in West Tytherley, the Flowerpots Inn in Cheriton, the Old House at Home in Romsey, the Royal Oak in Fritham, the Phoenix Inn in Twyford and the Wheatsheaf Inn in Shedfield.

The winner will be announced in March and will be entered for the competition in the Wessex region.

Hampshire and Southampton pub reviews