Nothing beats a good walk to a good pub; As the weather improves and the great outdoors beckons, Jane Hall serves up a selection of regional pubs offering a warm welcome, delicious food and a refreshing pint to determined hikers and Sunday strollers alike.
WSometimes it's just nice to head to the coast or country with no other reason in mind than to stretch your legs, breath in fresh air, clear the head, and take in some stunning scenery.
But there's a lot to be said for choosing a route that just happens to end at a charmingly rustic and welcoming watering hole.
And all the better if it serves good food and offers a respectable selection of ales and other beverages. If you're planning to put your best foot forward over the summer months and beyond, we have mapped out a selection of North East pubs that come with a reassuringly scenic backdrop, appetisingly fresh food, and good quality ales.
It's by no means a definitive guide.
But hopefully the following suggestions will whet the appetite to explore more good pubs that are handy for foot weary walkers who have worked up a thirst and a desire for food.
The Inn Collection Group With hostelries in some of the region's most picture-perfect locations, pub operator The Inn Collection Group has recently gone a step further to cater for walkers.
The group has teamed up with self-guided walking publisher Walking-Books.com to offer a range of tie-in packages at a selection of its inns.
The new 'Walk-Inn' breaks include easy-to-follow, self-guided ambles, key meals and accommodation, in well-loved destinations like the Northumberland coast, Cheviot Hills, Cleveland, and the North York Moors.
Tailored for all levels, including families, relaxed ramblers, and serious yompers, the breaks include Walking Books' self-guided packs, each containing 20 classic routes around the chosen pub.
Also in the deals is a hearty, twocourse dinner, alongside a room in the inn of choice to bed down in, and a full English breakfast to fuel up on ahead of a day's walking.
There's also a welcome drink on arrival and a picnic to enjoy while out and about.
The breaks are available at The Lindisfarne Inn at Beal, the nearest mainland inn to Holy Island; The Bamburgh Castle, which overlooks the harbour and Farne Islands in the fishing village of Seahouses; the Hog's Head in Alnwick, which is close to the castle and garden; and The Commissioners Quay Inn at Blyth, all Northumberland; as well as The King's Head at Newton-under-Roseberry in Cleveland, which stands in the shadow of the iconic Roseberry Topping.
Each of the inns specialises in home-cooked pub food ranging from light bites to hearty meals, alongside an impressive line-up of real ales, including visiting guest beers.
There are daily chef's specials homing in on seasonal and local ingredients, such as at the Bamburgh Castle Inn which features Northumberland game and shellfish from the Seahouses fishermen.
The Lindisfarne Inn, meanwhile, has both a packed lunch service and an Explorer's Menu aimed at walkers and cyclists, with local seafood, shellfish and game to the fore.
At The Kingslodge Inn you'll find the likes of homemade steak and ale pie, roast rump of lamb, Cumberland sausage ring served with leek mash, steamed mussels, a classic seafood grill, and steaks aplenty.
There are real ales as well as guest hand pulls on rotation, bottled craft beers, chilled ciders and Continental lagers, wines from around the world, and speciality teas and coffees.
Sean Donkin, operations director at The Inn Collection Group, says of the Walk-Inn breaks: "We have always attracted walkers thanks to our great locations. We wanted to go a step further to encourage people to come and experience the incredible coast, hill and countryside paths around our inns with inclusive breaks that also serve as walking guides helping them make the most of their stay."
Walking Books director, Mike Law, adds: "We're delighted to have teamed up with The Inn Collection Group and applaud their efforts to Turn to Page 56 From Page 55 make walking accessible to as many people as possible. I hope that together we can inspire people of all walking abilities to head out and enjoy the fantastic scenery around their inns on foot."
The Walk-Inn breaks start from PS75 per person, per night (based on two people sharing).
More information can be found at www.lindisfarneinn.co.uk; www.bamburghcastleinn.co.uk; www.hogsheadinnalnwick.co.uk; www.commissionersquayinn.co.uk; and www.kingsheadinn.co.uk The Ship Inn, Low Newton, Northumberland Low Newton-by-the-Sea, known simply as Low Newton by most people, must rank as one of the most attractive seaside villages not just in the North East, but the UK.
Almost completely owned by the National Trust, at its heart stands The Ship Inn at the top end of an open ended square of whitewashed former fishermen's cottages, overlooking a sloping village green and beautiful sandy beach.
This section of the north Northumberland coast with its miles of dunebacked beaches is a magnet for families, couples and serious walkers. Many will undertake the six-mile hike from Craster to Low Newton, which takes in the imposing ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle standing proud on its black-cliffed promontory, and the mighty sweep of Embleton Bay, a popular place for families to stop-offfor a paddle and a bout of sand castle building.
Two to three hours of moderately difficult walking later, you find yourself in Low Newton.
If you have planned it right, you will arrive in time for the start of lunch service at noon at The Ship Inn.
Originally known as The Smack Inn, this 18th-century pub with its tables and chairs overlooking the green and beach and pared back interior (stone floors, mismatched furniture, bare stone walls and a roaring fire in winter), offers an honest, simply-cooked and non-fussy menu with the emphasis firmly on fresh, seasonal ingredients.
Seafood, as you might expect, is much in evidence. The lunch menu offers kippers from Swallow Fish of Seahouses, modestly served on their own with brown bread, as a homemade pate or in fishcakes, and handpicked crab in a sandwich or salad stottie.
There's a ploughman's featuring either Berwick Edge and Darling Blue Doddington cheeses or ham from Peelham Farm near Berwick; a stottie with bacon from R Carter and Sons in Bamburgh teamed with mushrooms and tomato; and toasted sandwiches with fillings like stilton and pear, goat's cheese and basil, and brie and olives.
Little ones aren't forgotten with children's picnic boxes containing pitta bread, ham, cheese, peppers and tomatoes. Evening meals extend to the likes of rib eye steak, roasted Mediterranean hotpot, local mackerel fillets and crab, with homely desserts of apple crumble and red berry Bakewell tart.
And to accompany the food you will find a selection of beers from The Ship Inn's own microbrewery, which is housed in a building next to the pub, as well as a range of superb guest ales.
www.shipinnnewton.co.uk The Rose and Crown, Romaldkirk, Durham Situated in a rugged corner of the North Pennines, Romaldkirk is a picturesquely small village of stone cottages set around extensive greens where Maypole dancing used to take place, and which are still home to the old parish water pumps and a set of stocks.
Next to the Saxon church stands the ivy-clad Rose and Crown inn.
This 18th-century hotel, pub and restaurant has become well-known for its good quality food.
So it's handy that some of the North East's best walks pass just a stone's throw from its door. The Teesdale Way passes the village, and you can walk the old railway line from either Cotherstone or Middleton.
Other walks take in the stunning scenery around Hury and Grassholme Reservoirs. The Rose and Crown is a welcoming place to rest weary legs and refuel.
In winter there's always a roaring fire on the go in the cosy bar with its antique Windsor chairs, or on a fine summer's day you can sit in the sun and breath in the scent of the roses that ramble around the front door, supping a pint of real ale as you watch the world go by.
Lunch is served between noon and 2.30pm and offers everything from sandwiches and light bites to more substantial meals.
There are sharing platters like the ploughman's lunch with County Durham produced Parlour Made cheese from Mordon, and Cockfield-based butcher and farmer Joe Simpson's pork pies, chutney, celery, grapes and homemade bread.
Or an antipasti board of hummus, marinated globe artichoke, olives, sun blushed tomatoes, bread and locally made Cotherstone cheese.
Sandwiches are equally tempting with Teesdale rarebit with Black Sheep ale on toasted homemade soda bread; grilled Simpson's sausage with red onion marmalade served on an artisan white roll; or the Rose and Crown club chicken and bacon with tomato, lettuce and mayonnaise.
And if you have really walked up an appetite the mains include a filling homemade beef burger in a toasted brioche bun with Mordon Ruddy cheese and triple cooked chips; trout Nicoise, tapenade, slow cooked egg, sundried tomatoes, green beans, pine nuts and new potatoes; and a broccoli risotto with blue cheese emulsion.
There is a good selection of real ales at the bar, extensive list of world wines, gins aplenty (including some from the North East) and whiskies (at least 15 malts from Islay).
Supper is served in the bar between 6pm-9pm, and more formal dinner in the oak panelled restaurant from 6.30pm-9pm.
The King's Head Inn Newton under Roseberry
Ship Inn Low Newton
Rose and Crown, Romaldkirk Unknown