The Hidden Hut, Porthcurnick, Cornwall
It’s well worth the walk across a stream and over uneven terrain to reach this secluded food hut, less than a mile from the fishing village of Portscatho on Cornwall’s Roseland peninsula.
Wooden benches look down on sandy Porthcurnick beach, backed by grassy cliffs, where children splash in rock pools at low tide. The simple lunch menu is chalked up daily, served from midday and eaten alfresco. The chickpea and coconut dal is delicious, (£9) and the Thai fish curry (£13) is made with local shellfish. At pop-up “feast nights”, a single dish, such as Cornish lobster or sticky ribs, is cooked outdoors and served to diners on the sand.
The Dun Cow, Salthouse, Norfolk
The north Norfolk coastal village of Salthouse has long been popular with birders. But anyone will enjoy this spot – between a saltmarsh and a ridge formed during the last ice age – from the beer garden at the Dun Cow. Overlooking strips of marsh, a shingle beach and the North Sea (which brings Mark Rothko block colour paintings to mind), the pub makes the most of local ingredients; try seafood such as oysters (three for £10) and Cromer crab to salmon from the smokehouse in the neighbouring village of Cley (both £10) and saltmarsh beef (steak £27). Don’t even think about leaving without ordering the halloumi fries and wash the lot down with a pint of Woodforde’s Wherry.
George III, Snowdonia
Just west of Dolgellau, the George III in Penmaenpool sits beside a toll bridge at the head of the Mawddach estuary. Gerard Manley Hopkins was so moved by this hotel and (former) railway station, he wrote a poem in the visitors’ book exhorting others to “spend here your measure of time and treasure”. Now owned by the Robinsons brewery, the menu offers standard pub fare (beer-battered cod £15; steak-and-ale pie £14.50) but the views from the large first-floor windows and the waterside bar are as poetic as ever, with mossy mountains reflected in a seemingly infinite tide of velvety water.
Hare & Hounds, Bath
Bath is resplendent with Cotswoldy gorgeousness, but few places offer food with a spectacular view. The exception is the Hare & Hounds. Only a mile and a half from the centre, this old pub might as well be in the countryside; the breathtaking lookout is over the sylvan Charlcombe Valley to Solsbury Hill (of Peter Gabriel fame). A large garden makes the most of the location; a conservatory and huge mullioned windows bring the outside in, too. Posh pub fare such as pan-fried cod with seafood chowder (£24.50) sits alongside pub classics (a rated Sunday roast for £16), plus pizzas fresh from the garden bar.
The Sound, Isle of Man
It’s a windy road down to the southern tip of the Isle of Man, but worth the drive for a kipper sandwich (£7.95) or a cake and a cuppa at the Sound Café, overlooking the churning strait that separates the island from the uninhabited Calf. The latter is a haven for seabirds, with 33 breeding species and many more stopping off on their migrations, while the water between the two is home to seals, dolphins and basking sharks. It’s worth sticking around on clear nights, too: the cafe car park is a dark sky discovery site.
Lusty Beg, Co Fermanagh
An island off an island in the most northerly part of County Fermanagh’s serene Lough Erne, Lusty is accessed only by boat or by a tiny car ferry from Boa Island – and its remote location is central to its food offering. The dark, green fields of Fermanagh feed its calves, and less than an hour west is the Donegal town of Killybegs, Ireland’s largest fishing port. All the meat and fish is day-fresh and imaginatively presented with Lusty twists on familiar dishes. The seafood chowder with Guinness wheaten bread is a favourite, and as the head chef is from Punjab, the curries are superb. Choose a table on the terrace overlooking the pretty bay. The restaurant’s ethos is that real food is not fast food, and that’s a sentiment that applies to Fermanagh generally. They don’t rush down there. And if you linger too long, Lusty has a range of accommodation options – which means you’ll get to try the breakfast as well. Result.
Monsal Head Hotel, Derbyshire
Returning from a day’s fishing on the River Wye in Monsal Dale, I’m rewarded with one of the finest views in the Peak District, if not in all England. I buy a cornet from Frederick’s ice-cream van in the car park for the viewpoint, and take in the silvery Wye at the bottom of the vale. To the left is the Headstone viaduct, which caused such outrage to cultural critic John Ruskin when it was built in 1863. “The valley is gone, and the gods with it,” he blasted. The railway the viaduct served is long since gone too, but cyclists and walkers enjoy it as part of the Monsal Trail. When I look out over this wooded valley, I’m more inclined to think of it as “Derbyshire’s Arcadia”. And as the sun sets, I cross the car park for a pint of amber nectar in the Stables Bar of the Monsal Head Hotel.
Free Trade Inn, Newcastle
When it comes to pubs and views, beauty is in the eye of the beer-holder. Some yearn for rural idylls and rolling hills, but, for me, this spartan beer house with its sensational vantage above the River Tyne is unbeatable. On a warm day, you might watch the sun set beyond the Gateshead Millennium Bridge from the two-tier beer garden. But gazing at the Newcastle-Gateshead skyline – the Sage music centre’s silver curves just visible in the distance – is equally compelling from a window seat on a wet, grey afternoon. The Free Trade’s beer range is reliably impressive: 21 pumps, pint from £3.80, and tap-takeovers from high-calibre breweries such as Deya and Marble. Weekly visits from north-east street food stars complete the package.
Little Rock, Folkestone, Kent
Of all Folkestone’s foodie spots with a view, none channels Mediterranean vibes better than this beachside fish joint. A repurposed shipping container, Little Rock squats right on the shingle, with palm trees, boardwalks, sun sails (requisite on a sizzling lunchtime) and dreamy sea views from its terrace. Working with trawlers operating from the harbour, it focuses on the catch of the day – pan-fried, grilled or baked as you prefer. Or go for local crab, mackerel fillets or pale-ale-battered cod cheeks (£12.50) with tangy, caper-laden tartare sauce. Cold vinho verde and a chilled soundtrack all add to the holiday feel.
The Beach House, Edinburgh
The Beach House is a friendly cafe with beachside chairs right on Portobello’s promenade. Sitting outside, you have your back to beautiful Georgian architecture and, in front, the two-mile seafront – rippling, golden sands and clean, cold waves (good for swimming) under moody Scottish skies. Go early for breakfast and order the “porty smash” (mushrooms, thyme and avocado on sourdough, £9) and, later, one of its homemade ice-cream sundaes (from £7). An independent town until 1896, Portobello retains its character and is easily reached by the no 26 bus from Edinburgh city centre.
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