This week's Best of the West... Bill Martin finds a warm welcome in winter in some lovely pubs...
The Old Success Inn, Sennen Cove
There’s something about this place being right down the bottom of Cornwall that makes it feel a little extra special. Its stunning location makes for breathtaking views over Sennen Cove come rain or shine and while the sunsets are beautiful, it’s the kind of place you want the weather to be and so you can shut the doors, stay in the warm and just listen as Mother Nature does her worst. The Old Success is right on the coast path and well worth the walk wherever you start from – and if you walk far enough you can stay the night.
The Elephant’s Nest
Find the curiously named Elephant’s Nest and you have found winter pub heaven. It’s ok in the summer too as it boasts its own cricket pitch and team, but the Nest, hidden away on the edge of Dartmoor, is how all pubs should be made. Thick stone wall, slate floors, a roaring fire and low ceilings. It’s a delight for foodies and prides itself of its locally sourced and home cooked menu. This is a pub that makes those extra miles on your Sunday morning walk well worth the effort – even if they are just an excuse to spoil yourself. Apparently the pub used to be called the New Inn, until it was re-christened in honour of a legendary 20-stone landlord who used to perch behind the bar.
The Mount Pleasant
Don’t let the roadside situation fool you, the Mount Pleasant has a welcome as warm as the family who run it. Food is a speciality and the pub has become a fulcrum of much of the life that goes on in this very rural area of Mid Devon. Don’t be surprised if the pub is crammed full of shooters, hunters, riders, or sports people, it’s a regular meeting point for all sections of the community. One end of the pub used to be an Ostler’s House for passing carriage drivers and the other a blacksmiths forge. The forge is still a feature of the pub’s restaurant. You get a fire and a log burner at either end and are sure to find this traditional rural pub just a little too cosy to leave.
The Old Inn
Bodmin can be the bleakest of moors when winter comes and the Old Inn – the highest inn in Cornwall – is a hostelry designed to give shelter and relief from the punishing moorland bogs, the driving rain, and the merciless wind. Some seriously proper log fires blaze away and best thing of all that dogs are welcome – even very wet ones. The Old Inn is aptly named as it has a history that relates back to the monks who built St Breward Church in the 11th century. Its home-cooked menu is as good and honest as you’d expect and worth a visit alone. But it is the fires the dominate this fabulous village inn and make it a must visit for man and dog alike.
The Rod and Line
It would be fair to say that from the outside the Rod and Line does not look much, but venture under the patio awning and you will find a winter welcome just about as warm as they come. The Rod is a simple affair, a one room pub that prides itself on great food, a big fire, decent beer and also some of the best local music you will find in its area.
Keep an eye out for when the pub has crab on, but anything on the relatively small menu is invariably excellent, and to get one of the late Sunday lunches you will often need to book. The open fire is invariably roasting, the pub regularly packed, and sort of place that’s very hard to leave once the rain’s set in.