Wrap up warm this winter and head for the hills, then end the day with food and drink by the fire at a cosy country pub.
From Cumbrian classics to Welsh watering holes, here’s our round-up of the UK’s best rural pubs for winter walkers.
The fun atmosphere of this pub is sure to warm you up after a chilly day in Ambleside. The Hikers Bar
has long been the haunt of exhausted fell walkers and climbers – in the 1880s, it was known as the Middlefell Inn and the landlord was a well known guide for tourists, and later the pub became a popular haunt for Everest climbers such as Sir John Hunt. Now, it serves good beer, a range of scotch whisky’s, and wholesome, healthy food, and also holds live music nights. www.odg.co.uk
The Hare Arms, Stow Bardolph, Norfolk ©Alamy
This recently refurbished pub in the centre of West Norfolk not far from King’s Lynn offers a fresh menu with a selection of cask ales. The original pub building was built during the Napoleonic wars, and it was transformed into an inn when Captain Thomas Hare offered it to three soldiers. After becoming an inn, the Hare Arms became the heart of local celebrations for wartime victories, coronations and jubilees. Today, you can call in after a day on the coast for a hearty meal. www.theharearms.co.uk
The Queen’s Arms pub has been offering refuge for winter walkers since the 17th century. Hawkeshead itself was once home to William Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter, and is closed to traffic, making it the perfect quiet place to explore after a long day of walking. The hotel and pub, with guest rooms, food and an open fire, is the perfect base for exploring the southern Lakes. queensheadhawkshead.co.uk
The Dolphin pub in the village of Robin Hoods Bay ©Alamy
Ye Dolphin is appropriately only 50 yards from the sea, and a real smugglers’ pub with low ceilings, cosy open fires, real ales and a fish-dominated menu. If you visit on a Friday night you’re bound hear some sea shanties, as the Robin Hood’s Bay Folk Club meets here. whatpub.com/dolphin-robin-hoods-bay
Wasdale Head Inn in Wasdale, Cumbria @Alamy
Buried in the far reaches of one of the most remote valleys in Britain stands the warm and welcoming Wasdale Head Inn. Found nestled at the very end of the valley whose name it bears, this stunning little Lakeland outpost is well worth the pilgrimage. For more information about the pub visit the website, or see our handy walking guide which takes you from the pub through hidden valleys.
Located on the highest point of the North York Moors National Park, this rural inn is a fitting refuge for a winter pint. The 16th Century freehouse stands at an elevation of 1,325 feet and looks over Rosedale and Farndale, and ancient fireplaces burn all day. The pub offers hearty, traditional pub grub and has 13 rooms if you decide to stay. Find out more about the pub on their website at www.lionblakey.co.uk.
One of few remaining old fashioned village pubs, The Tors
is central to the best walking to be found on Dartmoor. A CAMRA pub, it serves many locally brewed ales and a mighty whisky selection, and is surrounded by some of the most dramatic open moorland in Britain.
Built in 1577, the Old Nags Head sits at the start of the challenging Pennine Way, and there is plenty of great walking to be found in and around the area. The fires burn throughout winter, and to accompany the generously sized meals their rich and malty ‘1557’ ale is a winner. www.dorbiere.co.uk/the-old-nags-head
The ale selection at the foot of Snowdonia (Photo by: Cwellyn Arms)
For those exploring Snowdonia, this traditional Welsh pub sits at the foot of the areas great mountain. Amid such famed walking country, the Cwellyn Arms strives to provide just what tired ramblers need; great beers, simple, hearty food and log fires by which to warm cold and weary feet. snowdoninn.co.uk
Royal Oak, Cardington, Shropshire ©Philip Pankhurst
Deep in the South Shropshire Hills, this gem is one of the oldest pubs in Shropshire
to have been continually licensed. Offering fine real ales and local fare such as the famous ‘Fidget Pie’ of gammon and apples, the inglenook fireplace is a welcoming treat after a brisk country walk. www.at-the-oak.com
The Red Lion, Llanbedr, Black Mountains © Geograph
A huge welcome and very cosy stone-built pub deep in a Black Mountains valley – the perfect target after a cold blow on the tops of some of the Brecon Beacons’ least known ridges. Open fire, real ale, and home-cooked food. Make sure you leave muddy boots outside though. thegoodpubguide.co.uk/red+lion
The Twice Brewed Inn is long, thin and welcoming. The menu features spicy burgers hewn from vast Northumbrian sausages, and the ales are drawn from the area’s countless microbreweries. As John Scott, of the Hadrian’s Wall Trust, once said, “the pubs around here know their audience – they lay on big fires, big meals and big beers”. That sums up the Twice Brewed perfectly. twicebrewedinn.co.uk
When the festivals are over and only the hardiest hikers tread the frozen turf of the South West Coast Path, there’s nowhere more inviting to hunker down than the Square and Compass. Set on a hill in Worth Matravers, with views of the English Channel, this is a great way to while away a lazy Sunday afternoon. squareandcompasspub
This tradition pub overlooking the Isle of Portland in Dorset was originally built in the 13th century. It’s roaring winter fires make it an irresistible lure for wind-blown walkers. smugglersinnosmingtonmills.co.uk
The cosy Kings House Hotel sits at the gateway to mighty Glencoe beside the West Highland Way. It caters almost exclusively for hikers, bikers and outdoor enthusiasts, offering an opportunity to share tale beside a crackling log fire. kingshousehotel.co.uk