A bracing walk in beautiful countryside followed by a pint in a beer garden, or in front of its roaring fire in winter, is a quintessentially British experience - and one of the best things about the outdoor scene in the UK. Don't get us wrong, we love alpine refuges as much as the next hiker (especially the Italian ones, where the food is always *kisses fingers*), and there's undoubtedly something special about a secluded Scandinavian cabin with a sauna attached. But neither can beat the atmosphere of a truly great village pub.
Of course, the humble country pub with rooms now comes in all shapes and sizes. From the traditional half-timbered coaching in, to the new breed of gastro pubs specialising in locally sourced delicacies, to the country hotels with Michelin-starred restaurants attached. Swish furnishings and fabrics, contemporary bathrooms, and eye-for-detail extras - all of these are now the norm in smart country pub rooms. But wherever you are in the country, and whatever level your budget allows for, the key ingredients of a truly great pub with rooms are basically the same: Beer, food, comfy beds, convivial atmosphere and great walking trails right out the front door. Get all those in place, and you won't go far wrong.
After all, it's all about that feeling of stretching out your weary legs after a long day's walking, kicking off your walking boots, tucking into a plate of proper pub grub and ordering your second or third pint of the night, safe in the knowledge that your comfy bed is just a short walk up the stairs.
We've teamed up with David Hancock of the Epicurean Club, a booking site which curates the best pubs with rooms and country inns in the UK, to bring you this guide to ten of best pubs with rooms anywhere in the UK, and the recommended walks to go along with them Think of these as ten recipes for the perfect weekend away.
The Walk: Forest of Bowland Hike - Lancashire
The Forest of Bowland offers some of the best walking in the north-west of England and this exhilarating circuit explores the area's little-known limestone scenery, following field paths and farm tracks through the Hodder Valley and negotiating two sets of ancient stepping stones across the river.
High moorland, famous for its grouse shooting, rises to over 1,700ft around you and gradual ascents afford great views over the valley to this wilder country beyond.
Best Pub with Rooms: The Inn at Whitewell, Lancashire
You can savour the spectacular views from almost every room at the wonderfully laid back Inn at Whitewell, a recently refurbished rural coaching inn. The welcome is as warm as the night is chilly, so expect huge fires in ornate iron grates, polished flagstones and grainy oak furniture, wandering black dogs, and great food and superlative wines in luxurious yet unpretentious surroundings.
Tasteful bedrooms sport Colefax and Fowler fabrics, antiques and flickering peat fires. Dogs are welcome overnight.
The Walk: North Norfolk Coast Path - Brancaster
Wildlife-rich saltmarsh, colourful boats, a Roman fort and a fascinating round-towered church make this breezy coast path walk between Brancaster and Burnham Deepdale an enjoyable outing at any time of the year.
While you're on the coast path, take the time to stop, close your eyes and listen - to the hiss of wind in the long grass, the muted roar of distant waves, the plaintive call of the curlew and the eerie sound of thousands of geese flying in to roost on the marsh and fields makes this part of the world truly special.
Best Pub with Rooms: The White Horse, Brancaster Staithe, Norfolk
The White Horse, a pub with rooms in Brancaster Staithe, offers the most hauntingly beautiful views across the marshes to the coast, and Scolt Head Island. Relax on the summer terrace with a pint of Brancaster Best from the local brewery, and make sure you've packed your appetite - the pub grub here is next level, with modern menus focussing on locally-caught fish and seafood.
The pick of the contemporary, beach-hut themed rooms is the two-tiered 'Room at the Top', with fantastic marsh views, and a telescope. Dog-friendly garden rooms have private terraces and offer direct access to the coastal path.
The Walk: Romaldkirk - North Pennines
The North Pennines region, often described as England's Last Wilderness' offers some of the most exhilarating walking in Britain - 772 square miles of spectacular ravines, green dales, forest and high moorland.
Romaldkirk hunkers down in pretty Teesdale in the heart of this unique landscape. Along with neighbouring Weardale, its an obvious contenders for great walks, and you'd have to make countless trips to Romaldkirk to cover every stunning mile of footpath - the choice here is endless. The Pennine Way, now an amazing 50 years old, cuts across this magical landscape, and passes close to Romalkirk.
Best Pub with Rooms: The Rose & Crown, Romaldkirk, Co. Durham
This part of North Yorkshire is home to many a great village pub, but the standout has to be the Rose & Crown in Romaldkirk. The three-storey, creeper-covered pub with rooms, next to the village green and 12th-century church of St Romald, holds a commanding position in the centre of the historic village.
There's a rugged charm to the building, with its narrow passages, beams and stone walls, which dates from the 18th Century. On cold nights there'll be logs sparking in the fireplace in the cosy bar area, while the oak-panelled restaurant offers a touch of refinement. The menu is as rooted in the environment as the pub itself, with locally-sourced produce a particular specialty. Every room upstairs or in the nearby Monk's Cottage is comfortable and tastefully decorated. Dogs are allowed in some rooms.
The Walk: Ditchling - South Downs
Ditchling shelters beneath the escarpment of the Downs, with rolling green hills and lush countryside enhancing its setting, and its classic English village prettiness has attracted eminent figures from the world of theatre and entertainment over the years, notably Dame Vera Lynn and Sir Donald Sinden.
Take a leisurely stroll through Ditchling's streets, and peek inside the 13th Century flint church with its rare chalk carvings and huge Norman treasure chest, before setting out to climb up onto the Downs. This is a world of wide skies and distant horizons - classic downland walking country. The views from Ditchling Beacon are breathtaking, extending to the North Downs and the Ashdown Forest.
Best Pub with Rooms: The Bull Inn, Ditchling, East Sussex
The 16th-century Bull Inn is the place to relax in following this bracing downland walk. Head for the bar and you'll find feature fireplaces 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 the Ruby Room, the pick of the four quirky bedrooms.
The Walk: Windrush Valley - The Cotswolds
You really are spoilt for choice in terms of where to go walking in the Cotswolds countryside. If you just want an easy stroll from the front door of the Swan at Swinbrook, take a walk through the beautiful valley of the Windrush the charming town of Burford, famous for its antique shops, or to the little medieval church of St Oswald, built on the site of a Roman villa.
The air hangs heavy with history here and the river looks heavenly on a summer's evening, winding its way through the attractive countryside. It can feel like the designation Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty was invented for places like this. Elsewhere, there's also a good selection of long-distance trails, which can be adapted into manageable chunks, including the Heart of England Way, the Wychwood Way, the Oxfordshire Way and, slightly further afield, the magnificent Cotswolds Way.
Best Pub with Rooms: Swan Inn, Swinbrook, Oxfordshire
The Swan seems as much a part of the landscape as the River Windrush that flows past, with its creeper-covered Cotswold stone walls as rooted in its environment as the green fields all around. The dinky village of Swinbrook is as English as they come, with its church and cricket pitch, and the inn is even owned by the Chatsworth Estate.
The pub oozes country charm, think warm hues, fresh flowers, crackling real fires and rugs and old dining tables on tiled floors in cosy dining areas. Boutique rooms, British food cooked with flair, and a riverside garden with roaming Bantams complete the idyllic rural picture.
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The Walk: Cornish Coast Path - Zennor
West Cornwall offers some of the world's most awe-inspiring coastline and one of the most beautiful short circular walks (4 miles) on the Penwith Peninsula starts from the Gurnard's Head pub and follows the magnificent coast path, with its fine sea views and steep climbs over rugged terrain to the tiny village of Zennor, which shelters in a hollow between boulder-strewn moorland and the rugged coast.
Spend time at Zennor, exploring the fascinating 12th-century church, the quaint Wayside Museum, filled with local artefacts, and enjoy a drink in the timeless Tinners Arms, where DH Lawrence drank when he lived nearby during the First World War, writing Women in Love. The return journey to the Gurnard's Head is a gentle ramble across wide pastures.
Best Pub with Rooms: Gurnard's Head, Treen, Cornwall
Visible for miles with its yellow-ochre walls and the words 'Gurnard's Head Hotel' emblazoned on the roof, this iconic country inn is a real beacon on the Cornish coast and sets the standard for relaxed, convivial hospitality. 'Eat, Drink, Sleep' is the mantra, and the place lives up to its promise.
Log fires, stone floors, brass lanterns, panelled walls and lots of local artwork create just the right vibe in the bar, while some of the rustic and homely rooms and the back garden offer views of the sea. The kitchen champions seasonal Cornish produce. In short, this delightfully remote retreat is just the place to recharge those batteries. Dogs are welcome overnight.
The Walk: The New Forest
A vast network of woodland paths and tracks awaits you on the doorstep of the Master Builders, a pub with rooms in the stunning New Forest area of South East England. One of the loveliest walks in the area connects Lymington to Beaulieu via a scenic stretch of the Solent Way, including a sheltered and beautiful section along the banks of the Beaulieu River from Buckler's Hard.
Elsewhere, there are great mixed woods of oak and beech to explore, notably Bolderwood and the Rhinefield Walk, and vast acres of wild and beautiful heathland, untouched by, and independent of, man: a genuine survival of an ancient landscape. You can generally roam at will through this timeless and serene landscape.
Best Pub with Rooms: The Master Builders, Buckler's Hard, Hampshire
Set on rolling lawns leading down to the Beaulieu estuary, The Master Builder's is steeped in history: shipwrights have worked from this spot for over 300 years, and some of Nelson's fleet was built here. Tucked into the waterfront end of a row of cute 18th-century cottages, the inn's panelled, low-ceilinged interiors are strewn with maritime artefacts, art and memorabilia.
The secluded nooks and corridors of the old shipwrights' homes open out into a sprawling bar with giant hearths and stripped floors, while a smart restaurant commands uninterrupted views out over the estuary. The cosy and quirky main house bedrooms are in keeping with the historic style. Dogs welcome in the bar and overnight.
The Walk: Yorkshire Dales - Malham
Walking is the best way to see the Yorkshire Dales. This ancient landscape of caverns and waterfalls, limestone pavements and wooded valleys, sheep-cropped grass and stone-built villages, is one of the most stunning anywhere in England.
Countless paths and tracks, once used by packhorses and sheep drovers, lead well away from roads into some of the finest scenery in this, or indeed any, country. Stunning walks through gorgeous Malhamdale radiate from the door of the Lister Arms, one classic Dales walk explores magnificent Malham Cove and takes in Janet's Foss waterfall and impressive Gordale Scar. Another heads across breezy moors and limestone pavements to Malham Tarn.
Best Pub with Rooms: The Lister Arms, Malham, North Yorkshire
Muddy boots, dogs and bikes are all welcome at this 17th-century ivy-clad coaching inn, which stands on the village green in the heart of picture-postcard Malham. Weary travellers re guaranteed a hearty dinner and a comfortable bed for the night - so not much has changed over the centuries.
Expect to be looked after you from the moment you step into the big stone-flagged bar with its comfortably upholstered settles by a splendid inglenook - ideal if you want to kick back in front of the roaring fire with a pint and a plate of warming food after a walk round mighty Malham Tarn.
The Walk: Brecon Beacons
Walking in the Brecon Beacons National Park offer fabulous walking: big skies and wide-open spaces, hills and gorges, waterfalls, woodland, lakes and forests. It is also Wales' first Geopark and one of only seven Dark Sky Reserves in the world. There are walking trails to suit all levels of experience and fitness, including perennial favourites like the Four Waterfalls Walk.
The 152km (95 miles) Beacons Way walk will give you some of the best views and you can tackle a section during your stay at the Felin Fach Griffin. The Black Mountains are more suited to the hardened walker. Here you can unwind by escaping into a world of rolling hills, fertile valleys and ancient ridge tracks.
Best Pub with Rooms: Felin Fach Griffin, Brecon, Powys
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. Flagstone floors, open fireplaces, leather sofas to sink into following an invigorating mountain ramble, eye-catching paintings by local artists, and richly painted walls; the atmosphere is totally laid back with a vibrant buzz. Bedrooms are warmly simple and dogs are welcome.
The Walk: Wiltshire Downs
The Nadder Valley and the Wessex Downs west of Salisbury is a walker's paradise. From the pub's doorstep numerous walks link picturesque villages and fine scenery, including a glorious circuit through the Nadder Valley. You'll head out across fields and through woodland and parkland, via Old Wardour Castle, to Donhead St Andrew, returning to Swallowcliffe along a lofty chalk ridge which affords far-reaching views south over Cranborne Chase and north towards Salisbury Plain.
Cranborne Chase, a short drive south, is famous for its magnificent views, breezy high points and secluded valleys, and is perfect for exploring on foot, or you can explore the accessible trails and tracks on remote Salisbury Plain.
Best Pub with Rooms: The Royal Oak, Swallowcliffe, Wiltshire
Tucked away in the gently rolling Nadder Valley, the Royal Oak Inn is the perfect rural hideaway, a spruced up whitewashed and part-thatched pub set in a peaceful, picture-book village lost down narrow lanes. Recently rescued from closure and lovingly restored by three local residents, the stunning 18th-century building is now very much a community local, welcoming farmers, walkers, dogs, children and the local gentry into the lively bar.
There's a huge inglenook, a blazing fire, stone tiled floor, thick beams and stylish furniture. Expect hearty, warming food, cosy modern bedrooms, a fabulous glass and green oak conservatory dining room, and a secluded garden. What more could you possibly want after a long walk across the downs?
To book and for more information on each inn, including other local recommended pubs, restaurants, cafes, Delis and farm shops local to each inn, see epicurean.club
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