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Perfect partners – coastal walks and cosy pubs

Few things on the English coast are as life-enhancing as a pub walk and the chance to take the air after - or perhaps before – settling into a cosy pub. England is strong on both coastal walks and cosy pubs by the sea, so by putting the two together you are guaranteed an extremely uplifting experience.

Lift your spirits with sparkling, sea air

Pub and coastal walks in England can set a very high bar but one of the very best is tucked away in the north-east corner of Northumberland, where the Ship Inn is a strong contender for the best-located coastal pub in England.

You’ll find it in a small courtyard of former fishermen’s cottages that make up the tiny hamlet of Low Newton-by-the Sea. The food is wide-ranging and will suit all budgets and appetites, from warming toasties to locally caught mackerel and crab. 

They brew their own beer too, in a converted garage next door and produce 20 ales n rotation, including Sandcastles at Dawn and Ship Hop Ale.

Once you’re finished in the pub, it’s time to walk everything off by exploring the magnificent countryside. The best option is to walk for a couple of kilometres south along the coast, cresting the magnificently crescent-shaped Embleton Bay until you reach Embleton Burn, a stream that trickles into the North Sea.

All year round you might see gannets commuting by; flowers including orchids and the hardy bloody cranesbill sporting their beauty in the spring; in autumn, minke whales and seals can be spotted.

On the return to Low Newton-by-the-Sea you can follow sand tracks behind the pub to the enchanting, secluded ponds known as Newton Pools. There are hides to linger in here, and you have a good chance of seeing herons along with distinctively patterned ducks such as teal and goldeneye. Two pairs of barn owls like to hunt in the fields, and late afternoon and dusk is an excellent time, especially in Autumn, to spot them.

Perfect partners – coastal walks and cosy pubs Perfect partners – coastal walks and cosy pubs
Perfect partners – coastal walks and cosy pubs

Local ales, hearty food and friendly locals

Another fine pub walk, offering a very different experience, can be found along the north Norfolk coast at Wells-next-the Sea. 

If you walk along the quayside of this small town expecting to find a pub on dry land, you’ll be disappointed. Instead, turn your gaze to the water, where the Albatros is moored.  The Albatros is a delightful boat, which used to be sailed by a Dutchman Ton Brouwer across the North Sea from the Netherlands.

The ship lays claim to having been Europe’s last working cargo ship before the huge container ships took over.  Now it is one of England’s most unusual coastal pubs, featuring local ales, good food and even live music. 

The bar below decks is cosy; on a day of light winds, the deck itself is a superb place for a sundowner. You can explore the coast north or south of wells-next-the sea, looking out for deer inland and seals offshore. Three kilometres in either direction is sufficient.

Another excellent choice is to explore the North Yorkshire coastline between Robin Hood’s Bay and Ravenscar. The pub with which to bookend this walk is Ye Dolphin on King Street at Robin Hood’s Bay. You can tell this is a good pub because, in a part of the coast popular with tourists, it remains equally frequented by locals. The food is hearty and they serve real ale (beer that continues to ferment and brew in the cask from which it is served). 

 The return distance for the walk is 12km: check the tide times and you can walk one way along the beach, the other along the Cleveland Way coastal path. 

 Don’t be surprised if you see hikers unable to wait for the pub, sitting with their boots off on the beach and toasting one another with beer or fizz: this is a sure sign they have just completed the coast-to-coast long-distance trail from St Bees on the west coast to Robin Hood’s Bay!

By Mark Rowe