BRITAIN’S BEST INNS: WALK YOURSELF HAPPY!
15 February 2016
Walk Yourself Happy!
It’s a well-known fact that being out in the open air can do wonders for your health, and when combined with a relaxing break away, the stress busting properties of being outdoors are multiplied. Follow in David’s footsteps and try one of his recommendations below.
The Master Builders,
Buckler’s Hard, Hampshire
Tucked into a row of cute 18th-century cottages, with rolling lawns leading down to the Beaulieu estuary, the inn’s panelled, low-ceilinged interiors are strewn with maritime artefacts, art and memorabilia. Secluded nooks and corridors open out into a sprawling bar with giant hearths and stripped floors, while a smart restaurant commands uninterrupted views out over the estuary. Cosy and quirky main house bedrooms are in keeping with the historic style and dogs are welcome overnight. The New Forest’s vast network of woodland paths and tracks are close, but the sheltered and beautiful stretch of the Solent Way along the banks of the Beaulieu River from Buckler’s Hard is heard to beat.
Felin Fach Griffin,
The Felin Fach Griffin shines like a beacon in the Brecons. The isolated spruced up old hostelry is firmly on the Welsh culinary map (the food is sublime) and renowned as a destination inn for those looking for a brilliant bolthole in the Welsh borders. Inside, the ground floor rambles through several cosy rooms, all demonstrating an artful, understated sense of style, with flagstone floors, open fireplaces, and leather sofas to sink into following an invigorating mountain ramble. Bedrooms are warmly simple and dogs are welcome. The Brecon Beacons National Park offer fabulous walking on the doorstep: big skies and wide-open spaces, hills and gorges, waterfalls, woodland, lakes and forests, and there are trails to suit all levels of experience and fitness.
The Bull Inn,
Ditchling, East Sussex
The 16th-century Bull Inn is the place to relax in following this bracing walk along the South Downs Way, a world of wide skies and distant horizons, the breathtaking views from Ditchling Beacon extending to the North Downs and the Ashdown Forest. Hunker down in the cosy bar, replete with glowing fires, sagging ceiling timbers, bare boards, and simple benches and carved settles at big scrubbed tables. Local is the watchword when it comes to food and drink – quaff Bedlam ale, brewed along the road at Albourne, and tuck into seasonal game from the Balcombe Estate, then retire upstairs to one of the four quirky bedrooms.
The Rose & Crown,
Romaldkirk, Co. Durham
The creeper-covered 18th-century inn holds a commanding position in the centre of historic Romaldkirk. There’s a rugged charm to the place, with its narrow passages, beams and stone walls, with logs sparking in the fireplace in the bar, and a touch of refinement in the lounges and oak-panelled restaurant. The menu is as rooted in the environment as the pub itself, with a genuine local flavour, and every room is comfortable and tastefully decorated; dogs are welcome. Pretty Teesdale in the heart of the North Pennines offers some of the most exhilarating walking in Britain, a landscape of green dales, forest and high moorland, and the Pennine Way passes close to Romaldkirk
The Royal Oak,
Tucked away in the gently rolling Nadder Valley, the Royal Oak is the perfect rural hideaway, a spruced up whitewashed and part-thatched pub set in a peaceful, picture-book village lost down narrow lanes. Lovingly retored, it is now very much a community local, welcoming farmers, walkers, dogs, children and the local gentry into the lively bar, with its huge inglenook and blazing fire, and you can expect hearty, warming food, cosy modern bedrooms. From the pub’s doorstep numerous walks link picturesque villages and fine scenery, including a glorious circuit through the Nadder Valley, across fields and through woodland and parkland, via Old Wardour Castle, returning to Swallowcliffe along a lofty chalk ridge affording far-reaching views south over Cranborne Chase.
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