After all that Christmas excess, it’s time to get out the house and drag the family on a brisk walk in the countryside so we’ve rounded up five of our favourites. Fear not, it’s not all walk, walk, walk, each one is centered round a Sawday’s pub, perfect for a Christmas refuel.
The Pub: It’s earthy, stylish and friendly, with colour-washed walls, stripped wooden floors and log fires. Maps and local art hang on the walls, books fill every shelf, and super homemade food can be eaten wherever you want: in the bar, in the restaurant or out in the garden with sea views. Snack on rustic delights – confit duck, grilled figs – or tuck into more substantial treats: white crab salad, pear and avocado, chased by dark chocolate tart.
The Walk – 4 miles (6.4km); Map: OS 102 Land’s End
Overview: A beautiful coastal walk with stunning sea views
Route: Take the lane beside the pub down to the Gurnard’s Head promontory and the sea. Turn right to follow the coastal path that takes in magnificent sea views and a steep climb over rugged cliff-top terrain before heading inland at a National Trust sign to Zennor. Take time to view the 12th-century church and walk through the village to pass the quaint Wayside Museum. The return to the inn is a gentle walk across wide pastures linked by granite stiles.
Key Features: Cliff paths; Zennor village, church & Wayside Museum
2. North Norfolk Coast Path amd The Wiveton Bell, Blakeney Road, Wiveton, Holt
The Pub: A pretty pub in a bucolic setting, beside Wiveton’s green and church, and just a hop from the coastal salt marshes. There’s much to love, for a rustic-chic makeover has transformed the interiors of this charming whitewashed inn (beams, chunky tables, polished plank floors); now it’s a bonafide bistro pub. The menu is seductive, ranging from pork belly with black pudding mash and cider jus to bowls of Morston mussels with shallots, white wine and cream, to simple haddock and chips. A top pit-stop.
The Walk – 4.5 miles (7.2km); Map: OS Explorer 251
Norfolk Coast Central
Overview: Through salt marshes and a bird reserve to Blakeney
Route: The lane beside the pub meanders north through the village to the A149. Turn right towards Cley-next-the-Sea and go through the gate just before the village to join a raised bank that heads north through bird-rich salt marshes, with the River Glaven and Cley Windmill to your right. Keep to the path along the raised bank as it curves east and gradually heads back inland to reach Blakeney Quay. Walk up the High Street, cross the A149 and pass Blakeney church, following the lane back to Wiveton.
Key Features: Cley Windmill, salt marshes, big skies, bird watching, Blakeney Quay & village
3. The Cotswold Way and The Lion Inn, Winchcombe, Cheltenham
The Pub: Push open the heavy oak door of this restored old inn to reveal a beautiful main bar: rugs on pale-painted floors, candles at mullioned windows, rough stone walls, and a log fire crackling in a 15th-century inglenook. Jugs of fresh flowers, battered leather armchairs and grand gilt-framed paintings enhance the authentic feel. Check out the papers over a pint of Hooky, play drafts, order from the short seasonal menu; in summer, spill onto the peaceful terrace.
The Walk – 5 miles (8km); Map OS Explorer OL45 The Cotswolds
Overview: A walk along the Cotswolds Way to discover an evocative Neolithic barrow
Route: Locate Vineyard Street and join the Cotswold Way (CW). Pass the entrance to Sudeley Caste (interesting diversion) and follow the CW right across fields to join a track and turn right at a road. Keep to CW climbing steeply through trees and a field to reach the Belas Knap Long Barrow. When the CW reaches a track, leave the trail and turn right, soon to descend to a road at a sharp bend. Go left through a gate and descend through fields towards Winchcombe, eventually reaching the road. Keep left and shortly take the path right along field edges to re-join the outward route near the entrance to Sudeley Castle.
Key Features: Winchcombe; Cotswold Way; Sudeley Castle; Belas Knap Long Barrow
4. The Pembrokeshire Coast Path and The Stackpole Inn, Stackpole, Pembroke
The Pub: A jolly, thriving, dining pub with infectiously enthusiastic owners and a chef with local food connections: as much as possible is Welsh and all is cooked from scratch. Ramble through several rustic-smart rooms with carpets and slate floors, warmed by wood-burners and freshly painted, soft-lit and cosy. Daily specials (fresh sea bass, Welsh Black beef) compete with a sensibly priced menu: perhaps local pork in an apple and cider cream sauce.
The Walk – 6 miles (10km); Map: OS Explorer 36 South Pembrokeshire
Overview: Tranquil waterways, magnificent limestone headlands and secluded beaches
Route: Heads south across the Stackpole Estate from the village, passing beside the famous Bosherton Lily Ponds to reach the coast at Broad Haven. Join the Coast Path, keep left of the beach and follow the coast path east along grass covered, plateau-like limestone cliff tops and around breezy headlands, to reach the gorgeous sandy beach at Barafundle Bay. At Stackpole Quay, you leave the coast path and follow the lane back to Stackpole village.
Key Features: Bosherton Lily Ponds; Broad Haven & Barafundle Beaches
5. The North York Mooor and The Horseshoe Inn, Levisham, Pickering
The Pub: The 19th-century Horseshoe Inn stands proudly at the head of Levisham’s pretty main street. Step in to find oak floors, beams, open fires, a chalkboard menu and a really lovely welcome. Yorkshire Warrior and Black Sheep are on tap as good value food (prepare for big Yorkshire portions) flows from the kitchen: Whitby crab and prawn risotto, shortcrust steak and ale pie, chunky hand-cut chips – perfect fodder for walkers.
The Walk – 5 miles (8km); Map: OS Explorer 27 North York Moor – East
Overview: A deeply incised valley leads to the Hole of Horcum and a glorious return walk across Levisham Moor
The Route: Take the footpath left at the bottom of the village street, before the road bends right. Fork left, descend into the dale and follow the path left beside the stream. Cross a footbridge, keep to the path through the valley, with the stream to your left, to reach Low Horcom (farmstead). The great hollow of the Hole of Horcum lies ahead and you ascend the slope to the A169. Turn left to join a moorland track (extensive moorland views) and follow this to Dundale Pond. Take the ascending track left back to Levisham.
Key Features: Levisham village; Hole of Horcum; extensive moorland views.
For more handpicked watering holes, visit our collection of Special Places to Eat & Drink.