Old Dungeon Ghyll, Langdale, Lake District
Usually heaving with fell walkers enjoying a post Scafell Pike-high, this famous mountaineers’ pub is one of the classic venues in the Lake District. The drinking booths of the Hikers’ Bar are built into the old cow stalls of the 300-year old farm and inn. It’s a little rough round the edges, She Deco isn’t going to be shooting the bedrooms anytime soon, but the Langdale Valley setting is incredible, and staying here is to become part of legend. Every British climber – from Chris Bonington to the earliest pioneers of the sport – has stayed at this longstanding focal point of British mountaineering.
Doubles from £120 B&B, singles from £58, odg.co.uk
Running Horse, Surrey Hills
Although only 224m high, Box Hill is one of England’s must-do peaks, extremely popular with Londoners and southerners in the vicinity. To kickstart a stomp to the summit, the mighty breakfast at the Running Horse in Mickleham near the bottom should set you up. Returning for fab dinners of pan-roasted Atlantic scallops with pea velouté or lobster and crab risotto, eaten in a booth in the wood-panelled dining room, or among the locals outside, is the perfect reward. Upstairs there are also seven luxurious bedrooms.
Doubles from £89 B&B, or the Gatehouse cottage sleeps two from £130 a night B&B, running-horse.co.uk
Lord Crewe Arms, Blanchland, Northumberland
Tucked into steep, forested hills in the Northumbrian Pennines with paths leading on to open moorland, Blanchland is one of the most enchanting villages in the northeast. Here, the Lord Crewe Arms, originallybuilt as a guest house in 1165 for pilgrims visiting Blanchland Abbey, is a treat – glamorous but ancient-feeling. Its historic bones –thick stone arched windows, heavy beams and a medieval dining room – combine with contemporary touches, such as headboards clad in quirky landscape-patterned fabrics, and the food is fantastic. Situated near the border with County Durham in an Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty, it has an inexhaustible supply of superb walking terrain, from five designated Dark Sky discovery sites for stargazing strolls, to High Force waterfall with its 21m drop, and Hadrian’s Wall.
Doubles from £219 B&B, lordcrewearmsblanchland.co.uk
The Bell at Skenfrith, Monmouthshire
Illustrated maps of six circular walks leading straight into the glorious Monmouthshire countryside are offered to guests at this 17th-century coaching inn. If it’s a family stay, try the Skenfrith Sleuth walk with puzzles to solve on the way to Skenfrith Castle, or the Knights Templar Trail, which crosses the border into England. There are 11 comfy bedrooms, too, and tasty food in the dining room, though walkers might prefer a local ale in the relaxed Dog and Boot Bar, complete with garden “pooch parlour” for rinsing muddy paws.
Doubles from £175 B&B (additional Z-beds for children £20 s night), thebellatskenfrith.co.uk
The Alice Hawthorn, Nun Monkton, North Yorkshire
In the Yorkshire countryside between Harrogate and York, this smart, food-focused pub recently added accommodation for the first time. The old Grade II-listed stone building sits on the village green of Nun Monkton, on the confluence of the rivers Ouse and Nidd, whose prime attraction is England’s tallest maypole. Really it’s the walking that people come for. Trails from the door are depicted in the pub’s handy booklet, including a substantial eight-miler to the Monks House, where Ann Brontë lived with her brother Branwell. Eight brand new garden rooms built from timber and four rooms above the bar feature a Scandie palette of creams and greys, rainfall showers and rustic furniture. In the revamped gardens, a wood-fired oven turns out sourdough pizzas topped with Yorkshire Fettle cheese, or barn-like dining spaces with beams draped in foliage are the setting for feasts of Yorkshire asparagus with hazelnut tortellini, or Dales lamb with cauliflower bhajis.
Doubles from £120 B&B, thealicehawthorn.com
The Ring of Bells, North Bovey, Dartmoor
Dartmoor isn’t short of fine walkers’ pubs, from posh ones in Boomer-friendly Chagford to ancient old farmhouses near the windblown tops of the moors. Striking a balance, tThe Ring of Bells lies in an accessible spot with fantastic walking on tap. Try the pub’s own booklet of circular walks from the door, between three and seven miles long, and then enjoy post-hike dinner options, including homemade goat’s cheese panna cotta or Brixham crab thermidor, all served in the pretty lawned yard or cosy nooks inside.
Doubles from £95 B&B, ringofbells.net
Creggans Inn, Loch Fyne, Argyll
On the shores of Loch Fyne, the deep sea loch off the Firth of Clyde, Creggans Inn is a haven of traditional loveliness on the gorgeous Cowal Peninsula. The area is increasingly renowned for its food, art and unspoilt nature. Red squirrels, deer and buzzards drop in during walks from this eastern side of the loch north into the Arrochar Alps, whose pyramidal peaks were the first in Scotland to be tackled by climbers in the late 1800s. Spectacular sunsets erupting across the loch are the after-dinner entertainment at the inn’s Macphunns Bar and Bistro, which serves hand-dived Loch Fyne scallops.
Doubles from £150 B&B, creggans-inn.co.uk
Keld Lodge, Keld, North Yorkshire
Several epic long-distance hiking routes pass this romantically remote inn in the folds of Swaledale, one of the most beautiful parts of the Yorkshire Dales. It’s here the 268-mile Pennine Way crosses Wainwright’s Coast to Coast route, and the 80-mile Swale Way passes by while following the River Swale’s gorges and pool. Keld is also one of three suggested stopovers on the four-day 52-mile Herriot Way, a circular Dales route from Aysgarth. It’s a charming place for a drink in the tiny traditional style bar, or a stopover, with neat rooms and a restaurant reliant on fare from Wensleydale producers.
Doubles from £80 B&B, singles from £45, keldlodge.com
Bushmills Inn, Country Antrim
The town of Bushmills may be synonymous with whiskey, but it’s perfectly acceptable to shun the golden nectar in favour of fresh air and walking. Tthe Bushmills Inn, with 41 rooms and suites, is well placed for walking the 120-mile Causeway Coast – the polygonal basalt columns of the Giant’s Causeway itself are only two miles away. Further hikes might visit Rathlin Island, off the coast of Ballycastle, or the waterfalls of the Glens of Antrim. Return for supper in the fine dining restaurant or live music in the atmospheric Gas Bar, still lit by gas lamps.
Doubles from £120 B&B, bushmillsinn.com
The Three Daggers, Edington, Wiltshire