The "Sylvan Wye" flows through the valley in this jaw-droppingly beautiful spot. It's not hard to see why Wordsworth immortalised the Abbey and the vale that surrounds it. Walking the grounds brings a sense of peace and a slight but not unpleasant unease as one often feels in empty stone ruins. If you lie on the ground beneath the huge beech trees and look up, you'll be transported to vistas of imagination seldom experienced in these days of pervasive technology and noise, and feel at one with nature, as the poet once did.
Set beside the River Alde, Snape Maltings is so picturesque and lots of shops and things to do for the whole family. This weekend they have the Christmas Farmers market with lots of Suffolk producers and they often hand out free mulled-cider. My most favourite thing is when Father Christmas arrives on the barge that sails up the river with carol singers, bell ringers and real reindeer standing by the quay. Can't wait to take my little one this weekend to enjoy it and see his face light up.
A bookshop on Botanic Avenue in Belfast. The bookshop deals in crime fiction and the staff are knowledgeable and friendly. However, the bookshop (and fictionalized owner) are also a central character in the books "mystery man", "the day of the Jack Russell" and "Dr Yes" by Colin Bateman.
The truth is, every time I’ve done the Dunwich beach walk, scrunching along marvelling at the fact that the place was once a mile inland, I’ve been frozen by icy spray, or blinded by driving sleet. But that’s the secret pleasure of this bracing Suffolk coastal walk, anticipating a real fire, home cooked food and real ale at the cosy Ship Inn. Next summer I’ll stay at the inn (children and dogs welcome), venture into the conservatory and garden, and explore Dunwich Heath for nightjars and butterflies. Meanwhile, as you walk on the beach, listen carefully - you might hear the ghostly bells of All Saints Church, long ago drowned by the encroaching sea.
This is a city walk from Manchester to Salford which takes in some fascinating old buildings and glimpses into the history of Manchester and Salford, along with plenty of real ale.
Start off at the Marble Arch on Oldham Rd, Manchester - a micro brewery pub with a fascinating Victorian/Edwardian tiled interior and madly sloping floor. Well used by local workers and shoppers, this pub has a good range of beers brewed on the premises and seldom available elsewhere. Then head off along Trinity Way to the Eagle, known to locals as the Lamp Oil because of a previous landlord's sideline. This is a cosy town pub with a traditional interior and snug bars. Next stop is the King's Arms on Bloom Stret - well known locally for its studio theatre upstairs and its quirky decor - kitsch mirrors and flying ducks abound! A short walk up New Bailey Street brings you to the Mark Addy, built adjacent to the site of the Bailey prison in Salford which closed down to make way for Strangeways. From the main bar area in this pub, which is now enclosed, convicts used to start their journeys to the colonies. This is a great place to stop and eat before continuing the walk; the food here is excellent and made from local produce. Then, back onto Chapel Street and down to the New Oxford on Bexley Square, conveniently next door to Salford's magistrates' court. This pub specialises in continental beers on draught as well as fine English ales. The final stop on this walk, further up Chapel Street and in the heart of Salford is The Crescent - now a student pub but in the 19th century, a regular meeting place for Marx and Engels. Have a bit of radical political philososphy with your pint! The whole walk is about two miles long but can take a fair amount of time to complete due to the need to sample the wares of these great city pubs.
The oldest Royal hunting-forest in England still wears its Iron Age and Roman footprints well. Pristine ancient oakwoods and pre-industrial landscapes make for interesting walking and impressive views for all levels of fitness. Newland, just south west of Coleford, is ideal for starting circular walks. Four km east across old field patterns is Clearwell and its ironstone caves and stone quarries. A more arduous 4.5 km forest walk follows wooded ridges and steep valleys westward down to Offa’s Dyke path and the Wye. Returning to Newland find the walker’s reward in the 14th Century Ostrich Inn. The pub has avoided modernisation and its ageless character and welcome are therapeutic. The six-foot wide inglenook warms the soul and tired feet. Finding the priest hole may delay choice from the 8-10 local real ales. The food is restaurant grade in variety and quality, but at pub prices. Oh, and you wont have to take your boots off.
When you visit the Birch Hall Inn you’ll probably find that most of the customers are walkers – and a whole range of walks is indeed possible from this tiny and historic pub in the charming hamlet of Beck Hole, eight miles inland from Whitby. Start in Goathland (you can take the steam train there) and walk down the incline, a remnant of the first railway track connecting Whitby and Pickering and dating from the 1830’s, or make the pub the base and you can strike up across the moors or continue along the old track bed, following the river towards Esk Valley. This route is wheel and push chair friendly. More serious walkers could visit Thomasson Foss or take a cue from The Inn Way – this circular route will lead you to dozens of walks around the North York Moors, with a pub every few miles. However, you never need to stray far from the Birch Hall Inn, and you can collect your reward in the form of a beer dedicated to the pub itself – the appropriately named Beckwatter, and just one of the reasons why this splendid hostelry regularly receives recognition from CAMRA.
Really nice modern townhouse, well equipped and close to the centre of town. Great views across the harbour and up and down river. We'll certainly book again.
This small café, next door to Wimbledon Park tube Station, serves very cheap and excellent food for breakfast, and indeed for the rest of the day too.
It is well away from the over-priced and over-crowded Wimbledon village area.
Sample a breakfast for less than a fiver consisting of two scrambled eggs, sausage, tomato, mushroom, and two toasts, or, what about two scrambled eggs, soft cheese, with smoked salmon all on two toasts also less than a fiver.
And they speak French.
122 Arthur Road, Wimbledon, London, SW19 8AA
+44(0)20 8946 9014
Google map: bit.ly/hzhYqK
No one should visit Essex without doing this walk. Forget the old stereotype of white stilettos and boy racers - the real Essex is tucked away in the north corner of the county - in Counstable Country. Take the train from London to Manningtree station and follow the public footpath signposted for Flatford Mill. Continue across the open fields for Dedham where you'll find the Sun Inn, a quintessential coaching inn that serves quality locally produced ales and ciders that change regularly and food which quite frankly is delicious. If it wasn't for the fact you could pay by credit card, you might even think it was still 1830 and Counstable himself may pop in for a quick pint.
At Athole House, just a few minutes walk from the centre of Bath, owner Wolfgang makes his own muesli to Bircher's original Swiss recipe. The bread is home made every day too, as are the fruit salad and the buttermilk pancakes. We stayed for three days and ate so well each morning that we never needed food again until five in the afternoon.
Ten shepherds in a small Snowdonia farmhouse. Since dawn we’ve been gathering sheep off the craggy mountain through heather, bilberry and bracken. Picking our way over blanket bog while buzzards circle above. Breakfast well earned. The fifteen dogs crashed out in the farmyard. Tea, toast and rashers of bacon served to the guests, so polite and proper after all the swearing at their dogs. Mainly Welsh with some words of English at my table, which is in the porch – not enough room for us all to squeeze into the kitchen. Next the shearing and much later the gathering supper. I wouldn’t swap this for The Ritz.
Right in the city centre, it is an unpretentious, affordable pleasant restaurant. It is one of those places where food matches space and space matches food. It is all one single coherent attractive concept. Their lentil sausages are great.
There are a wide variety of routes which can be followed from the small car park near Hartsop – from challenging hikes over the high fells to gentle strolls around the lake. We chose a short, easy walk that took us along the beck to the western shore of Brotherswater. At the end of the lake the field paths led to the Brotherswater Inn, where we enjoyed warming soup and bread rolls (next time we visit here we won’t pack sandwiches: we’ll enjoy something more substantial from the bar menu). We then followed the eastern shore of the lake (the path isn’t marked on the map and is easy to miss) before crossing the road to follow the path to Hartsop. From here we walked up the fellside, before dropping back to the stream, which we crossed at Deepdale Bridge, then followed back to the car park.
There's no better way to stretch your legs at Christmas than climbing the Sailsbury Crags and Arthur's Seat for spectacular views over Edinburgh and out to the Firth of Forth, before heading down past Duddingston Loch and its winter birdlife for a pint and a meal in front of the fire at the Sheep Heid in Duddingston - where you can have a peek at their historic skittles alley. The return, along Queen's Drive, is traffic-free on a Sunday, and deposits you back by the Scottish Parliament and the foot of the Royal Mile where you'll find plenty more pubs.
Pub Walk. Middleham-E.Witton-Middleham
Distance: 5 miles
Park in the market place at Middleham, where pubs are slightly outnumbered by racing stables (buses run from Richmond via Leyburn and Ripon via Masham). Watch out for the strings of racehorses coming down from the gallops on Middleham Moor as you find your footpath. This leaves the town by the side of the 12th century castle, northern power base of Richard III, which dominates the small town. Follow the path past William's Hill, site of an earlier motte and bailey castle, down to the banks of the River Cover. Turn up Coverdale,keeping an eye open for Dippers, to reach a stone footbridge, Hullo Bridge, which crosses the Cover. Turn downstream and climb gently across the meadows beneath E.Witton Lodge to pick up West Field Lane which takes you to the top end of E. Witton. The Blue Lion is at the bottom of the wide green lined with Dales cottages. Stone-flaged floors, open log fire, Hand-pulled ales,good wine list, excellent food - if you can't bear to leave they have accommodation! However, if you do decide to return then retrace your steps up to the top of the green and then turn to the right to follow a path down through the meadows to cross the River Cover by a set of large stepping stones - not really advisable after heavy rain, when Hullo Bridge is a better bet. Climb up the slope into Strait Lane and across Chapel Fields (watch out for hares) to the footpath past the castle and into Middleham.
A walk of three very different ‘halves’ followed by a great Dales pub. The first leg climbs out of Reeth in Swaledale up to the lead mining hamlet of Hurst; the second passes through industrial heritage with the remains of lead mines, until it opens out with a fine view down the Dale, the third descends to the valley and follows Arkle Beck back to Reeth. Facing the village green is the Black Bull with an open fire, real ale and wholesome pub food. It welcomes kids and dogs and even has a back-to-front clock on the wall. It’s so good, I do it every year on my birthday.
Perched on the edge of the Dorset coast, a fabulous little pub on the beach with amazing shoreline to explore. The Smugglers is in Osmington Mills a few miles away from Weymouth. The food is very good quality and value for money and they have a fine selection of real ales. This is a very popular place in the Summer but enjoyable all year round.
Osmington Mills, Weymouth, Dorset DT3 6HF
+44(0)1305 833 125
Google map: bit.ly/i50HaI
This is a great winter walk with some good food at either end and a bit of optional shopping in the middle. If you start at The Plough on Northfields Avenue they serve a really great cup of coffee. Since a much needed refurbishment a few years ago they have evolved into a warm and welcoming gastro pub with an extensive menu from naughty nibbles to fab desserts. Head down Northfield Avenue where you will find some smaller boutique shops perfect for Christmas gifts and stocking fillers. Turn through Lammas Park and enjoy a little open space, perfect for a frosty day in Autumn or Winter. At this point you can turn off at Beaconsfield Road and then turn right at St Mary's Road for the Red Lion pub. If you want a longer walk then continue through Walpole Park with its beautiful trees and flowers. You may be lucky enough to see a flock of lovebirds that occasionally brighten up the suburban sky, since someone released a pet bird or two many years ago. You can exit the park on St Marys Road, next to Ealing Studios. The Red Lion was very popular in the Fifties and Sixties with Britain's top comedy actors popping in for a pint between 'takes'. It now serves a splendid Sunday roast (pricey but worth it) and a vast array of home cooked British food, fish and chips, pie and mash etc. It also boasts a good range of ales and an enclosed garden.
The Plough: 297 Northfields Avenue Ealing London W5 4XB
+44(0)20 8567 1416
Google map: bit.ly/dS3yhr
The Red Lion: 13 St. Mary's Road, Ealing, London
+44(0)20 8567 2541
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