The Pub: The Cornish Arms, St Merryn
The Walk: Crugmeer to Harlyn Bay or Trevose Head
The Pub: Part of the Stein portfolio, The Cornish Arms, rejected the term ‘gastro pub’ long before The Good Food Guide banned it as a descriptive term because: “the word confuses people and it has become a cliché.” This is a pub that operates a little differently from the other Stein establishments – no reservations, no Padstow parking to deal with and it is geared to locals as much as it is to seasonal customers. Jack Stein, family member and chef for the company at the pub describes the food as “just traditional pub food. It’s all the basics, done correctly.” Catering to anyone from dog walkers and surfers, to golfers and the casual afternoon drinker, dishes include top-notch scampi and chips, sausages with onion gravy and mash or lamb karahi curry.
The walk: park at The Cornish Arms and loop out and back around the spectacular Trevose Head on the coastal path or park up in Crugmeer or Trevone and pick up the coastal path until Harlyn Bay for a short walk to The Cornish Arms.
The Pub: The Victoria Inn, Perranuthnoe
The Walk: to Prussia Cove along the coastal path
A few miles from Penzance, the tidal beach of Perranuthnoe is a more secluded option than neighbouring Praa sands. Check tide times before striding out however, as there will be no beach at high tide. The Victoria In has been quietly making waves across Cornwall after husband and wife duo – Anna and Stewart Eddy took it over. Stewart trained with Michael Caines and Raymond Blanc and was awarded a Michelin star while a head chef in Bath, making the food here anything but your standard pub grub. Simpler lunchtime dishes feed the walkers but if all you want is a pint and pack of pork scratchings in front of the fire, you are equally welcome. If it all becomes a little too relaxing, there are a couple of guest rooms upstairs.
The walk: enhance the romance with a walk out to Prussia Cove on the nearby coastal path. This group of isolated coves was named after a famous smuggler, John Carter, who pretended to be the King of Prussia while playing soldiers on the sands as a boy and stashed his bounty in the coves.
The Pub: The Blisland Inn, Bodmin Moor
The Walk: Blisland to Newton Downs
The mystery and majesty of the moor is a force to be reckoned with in winter and one that will immerse you in the ancient history and peoples that once lived here. Situated on the edge of the moor, Blisland is a pretty cluster of granite houses centred around the village green and the Blisland Inn sits in the corner, attracting CAMRA fans from far and wide. As you’d expect, food is hearty, tasty and very reasonably priced. Go for a plate of ham, eggs and chips or rump steak in a bap with a pint of Roughtor (pronounced ‘rowter’), sit back and immerse yourself in the local conversation and characters, both of which are highly entertaining.
The walk (4.5 miles): Take a circular walk striding out from the pub and very conveniently finishing back at the pub for some ale and tales in front of the fire. http://www.bodminlive.com/xsdbimgs/Blisland%20Walk%284%29.pdf
The Pub: The Gurnard’s Head
The Walk: From the Gurnard’s Head to Zennor Head
Branding itself on the epithet: “the simple things in life done well”, The Gurnard’s Head has a reputation for food and hospitality that stretches out to London and beyond, filling it with guests year-round. Recent 2011 Good Pub Guide Award Winner, the food here is simple, seasonal and creative, catering as much for vegetarians as for dedicated meat-eaters. With the cragged and dramatic north coast stretching out on either side, the stunning and isolated location makes it a great romantic weekend getaway in the winter.
The walk: park at The Gurnard’s Head and stride out to the equally dramatic Zennor’s Head to work up an appetite for dinner or lunch or just an afternoon pint in a relaxed and informal setting.
The Pub: The Rashleigh Inn, Polkerris
The Walk: Fowey to Polkerris
Tucked away in the tiny pebbled bay of Polkerris, the Rashleigh Inn and its spacious terrace overlooking the beach, sit directly opposite the sun as it makes its way into orange-hued oblivion on the horizon. Food here is quality pub grub, crab sandwiches are particularly good and expect a decent pint of ale and if you hit it right, some live music.
The walk: if it’s a stroll you’re after, head over the cliffs to Par to stretch your legs and inhale some salty air before heading in for some fireside comfort. For a bigger challenge, make the Rashleigh the centre point of a walk that begins in Fowey and unravels across Du Maurier country along the coastal path, before heading back to Fowey inland after a well-deserved pit stop mid-way.