The Hidden Hut, Porthcurnick, Cornwall
It’s well worth walking over a stream and over rough terrain to reach this secluded food lodge, 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 stone pools at low tide. The simple lunch menu is prepared daily, served from midday and eaten outside. The chickpea and coconut dal is delicious, (£9) and the Thai fish curry (£13) is made with local shellfish. On pop-up “party nights”, a single dish, such as Cornish lobster or sticky rib, is prepared outdoors and served to diners on the sand.
The Dun Cow, Salthouse, Norfolk
The coastal village of Salthouse in North Norfolk has long been popular with birders. But everyone will enjoy this place – between a salt marsh and a hill formed during the last ice age – from the beer garden at Dun Cow. Overlooking strips of moorland, a pebbly beach and the North Sea (which brings to mind Mark Rothko’s colorblock paintings), 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 neighboring village of Cley (both £10) and salt marsh beef (steak £27). Don’t even think about leaving without an order of halloumi fries and wash it down with a pint of Woodforde’s Wherry.
George III, Snowdonia
Just west of Dolgellau lies the George III at Penmaenpool next to a drawbridge at the head of the Mawddach estuary. Gerard Manley Hopkins was so moved by this hotel and (former) railway station that he wrote a poem in the visitors’ book urging others to “spend here your measure of time and treasure”. Now owned by Robinsons Brewery, the menu offers standard pub food (cod and beer £15; steak and beer pie £14.50) but the views from the large first floor windows and waterside bar are as poetic as ever, with mossy mountains reflected in a seemingly endless tide of velvety water.
Hare & Hounds, Bath
Bath is resplendent with Cotswoldy beauty, but few places offer food with a spectacular view. The exception is Hare & Hounds. Just a mile and a half from the city centre, this old pub might as well be in the countryside; the stunning views are across the sylvan Charlcombe Valley to Solsbury Hill (of Peter Gabriel fame). A large garden makes the most of the location; a conservatory and large barred windows bring the outside in too. Elegant pub fare such as pan-fried cod with seafood chowder (£24.50) sits alongside pub classics (a rated Sunday roast for £16), plus fresh pizza from the garden bar.
Oresund, Isle of Man
It’s a windy drive 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 curved strait that separates the island from the uninhabited Calf. The latter is a haven for seabirds, with 33 nesting species and many more that stop on migration, while the waters between the two are home to seals, dolphins and basking sharks. It’s worth sticking around on clear nights too: the cafe car park is a spot for dark-sky discovery.
Lusty Beg, Co Fermanagh
Lusty is an island outside an island in the northernmost part of County Fermanagh’s tranquil Lough Erne, and is only accessible by boat or a tiny car ferry from Boa Island – and its remote location is central to its food offering. The dark, green fields of Fermanagh feed the calves, and less than an hour west is the Donegal town of Killybegs, Ireland’s largest fishing port. All the meat and fish are fresh and imaginatively presented with a lusty twist on familiar dishes. The seafood soup with Guinness wheat bread is a favourite, and as the chef is from Punjab, the curries are superb. Choose a table on the terrace overlooking the beautiful bay. The restaurant’s ethos is that real food is not fast food, and that’s a sentiment that applies to Fermanagh in general. They don’t rush down there. And if you linger too long, Lusty has a number of accommodation options – which means you get to try the breakfast too. Result.
Monsal Head Hotel, Derbyshire
Returning from a day’s fishing on the River Wye in Monsal Dale, I am rewarded with one of the finest views in the Peak District, if not the whole of England. I buy a cornet from Frederick’s ice cream truck in the lookout parking lot, and take in the silvery Wye at the bottom of the valley. To the left is the Headstone Viaduct, which caused such outrage to the 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 gone too, but cyclists and walkers enjoy it as part of the Monsal Trail. Looking out over this wooded valley I am more inclined to think of it as ‘Derbyshire’s Arcadia’. And as the sun sets, I cross the car park for a pint of raven nectar in the Stables Bar at 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 view over the River Tyne is unbeatable. On a warm day you can watch the sun set over the Gateshead Millennium Bridge from the two-storey beer garden. But looking at the Newcastle-Gateshead skyline – the silver baskets of the Sage Music Center just visible in the distance – is just as compelling from a window seat on a wet, gray afternoon. The over-the-counter beer selection is reliably impressive: 21 pumps, pints from £3.80, and tap takeovers from high-caliber 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 eateries with a view, none channel Mediterranean vibes better than this beachside fishing village. Little Rock is a repurposed shipping container squatting right on the gravel, with palm trees, boardwalks, sun sails (necessary on a sizzling lunchtime) and dreamy ocean views from the terrace. Working with trawlers operating from the harbour, the focus is 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 tart, caper-infused tartar sauce. Cold vinho verde and a cool soundtrack add to the holiday feeling.
The Beach House, Edinburgh
The Beach House is a pleasant cafe with beach chairs right on Portobello’s promenade. Sitting outside, you have your back to beautiful Georgian architecture and front the two-mile seafront – rippling, golden sand and clean, cold waves (good for swimming) under moody Scottish skies. Go early for breakfast and order the ‘porty smash’ (mushroom, 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 accessible by bus number 26 from Edinburgh city centre.