1. Plowden Arms
The Thames and its offshoot, the Loddon, meander to trickles a few hundred yards from this redbrick village pub, making for gorgeous riverside walks. Former Gordon Ramsay protégé Matt Woodley and his wife, Ruth, took over the Plowden in 2012 and offer seasonal, traditional cuisine influenced by old cookbooks such as those by Eliza Acton and Mrs Beeton, including a carrot cake from a 13th-century recipe. Decor in the pub has a similarly bygone feel with flickering candles, antique cutlery and vintage crockery.
Details: Three courses start from about £25 (0118 9402794,plowdenarmsshiplake.co.uk)
2. The Ship Inn
Low Newton, Northumberland
You’ll be hard pushed to find fresher seafood in a pub than at this gem on the Northumberland coast. Visit the homey boozer in summer and you’ll see fresh lobster and crab from Newton Bay being hauled up the beach to the Ship’s kitchen, where it can be washed down with ales from the on-site microbrewery. The pub is at the start of a lovely six-mile coastal walk to Craster, considered by some to be the spiritual home of kippers. On the way, look out for the ruined Dunstanburgh Castle.
Details: Three courses start from about £20 (01665 576262,shipinnnewton.co.uk)
3. Y Talbot
The head chef Dafydd Watkin trained with Marco Pierre White and was premier sous-chef at the Ritz before returning to Wales to run the kitchen at this 17th-century former drovers’ inn. The menu causes quite a stir with dishes such as roast fillet of cod, spinach, celeriac purée, oyster mushrooms, crispy Carmarthen ham and jus gras. The bar area has exposed stone walls, fireplaces and dark wood furniture, and there are walks in the Cambrian mountains, the gentle terrain of the Teifi Valley and the Ceredigion Coastal Path.
Details: Three courses start from about £29. (01407 730718,ytalbot.com)
4. The Pony and Trap
Chew Magna, Bristol
This award-winning 200-year-old pub in the Chew Valley, about eight miles from Bristol city centre, has had a Michelin star since 2011, thanks to the inventive cuisine overseen by the brother-and-sister teamof Josh and Holly Eggleton. Dishes such as pork loin, Marmite-glazed cheek, salt-baked celeriac and apple draw in a crowd from miles around to enjoy the relaxed atmosphere. Walkers and twitchers will enjoy the paths around Chew Valley Lake with its flat trails and bird hides in which to spot warblers feeding among the reed beds.
Details: Three courses start from about £24 (01275 332627,theponyandtrap.co.uk)
5. The Mason Arms
Backed by rolling hills, this pub in a 14th-century grade II listed cider house sits in one of the most picturesque villages in the country, all narrow roads and creeper-covered stone buildings. The village is near the Jurassic Coast and a 95-mile stretch of the South West Coast Path from east Devon to Dorset, so there are cliff-top walks aplenty. Rustic dishes such as Branscombe crab ploughmans can be enjoyed in the restaurant or cosy bar. Details: Three courses start from about £20 (01297 680300, masonsarms.co.uk).
6. The Barley Mow
There’s a hunting lodge feel to this pub in the small village of Barley, with its trophy-mounted antlers on the walls and logs for the fires piled high in the alcoves. Recently reopened by the Seafood Pub Company, it the pub is at the start of a popular walk up Pendle Hill. As you might expect, seafood, including locally caught crab, features highly.
Details: Three courses start from about £24. (01282 690868,seafoodpubcompany.com/barley-mow)
7. Wolds Inn
Huggate, East Yorkshire
Sitting in the Yorkshire Wolds’ highest village, midway between York and the coast, this ancient inn serves substantial meals, including home-made steak pies, and a range of well-kept beers. Nearby are a couple of challenging jaunts for serious walkers ranging from 9 to 25 miles across dales and farmland.
Details: Three courses are from around £22. (01377 288217,woldsinn.co.uk)
8. Kirkstone Pass Inn
In what’s thought to be a former monastery set at 1,500ft, there are great views of rugged Cumbrian landscapes from this cosy pub, the third highest in England. Those vistas get even better with a five-mile yomp past Caudale Moor and up to Stony Cove Pike from where you can see as far as Morecombe Bay. Food at the relaxed pub is wholesome and home-made.
Details: Three courses start from around £20. (015394 33888,kirkstonepassinn.com)
Tony Turnbull, Times food editor
9. The Two Bridges Hotel
Dartmoor National Park, Devon
Approached by an 18th-century stone bridge over the West Dart River, this Dartmoor pub is a short walk from Wistman’s Wood, which could easily have been an inspiration for Tolkein’s The Lord of the Rings. The dense woodland sees stunted oaks gnarl together among moss-covered granite boulders, and there’s a superb five-mile circular walk that takes in the best bits. Back in the pub, there’s a cosy atmosphere and roaring fires and award-winning food from the executive head chef, Mike Palmer, whose speciality is Sladesdown duck samosa, with fondant potato, chorizo and pineapple.
Details: Three courses are from about £37. (01822 892300,twobridges.co.uk)
10. The Cornish Arms
The Camel Trail is on an 18-mile stretch of disused railway line between Bodmin and Padstow that was heralded as “the most beautiful train journey I know” in Betjeman’s Cornwall. Now one of the best-loved walking and cycling trails in the country, it takes in the Camel Valley Vineyard and this Rick Stein-owned pub with good old-fashioned pub grub (think rump steak and chips and scampi in a basket). There’s also a great beer garden for when the weather is kind.
Details: Three courses start from about £18 (01841 520288,rickstein.com)
11. Ye Olde Fighting Cocks
St Albans, Hertfordshire
Pick up a picnic from what the Guinness World Records claims to be the oldest pub in the UK and head for a history lesson in nearby Verulamium Park. Boudicca is said to have rampaged here, there is a Roman theatre, built in about 140AD, and an ornamental lake. There are also great views of the city’s cathedral. The chef, Ian Baulsh, has brought modern takes on classic pub food to the dining room, with dishes such as Ye Olde Fighting Cocks sausages and mash with cavolo nero and caramelised onion jam.
Details: Three courses start from about £23 (01727 869152,yeoldefightingcocks.co.uk)
12. The Cat Inn
West Hoathly, West Sussex
With a Michelin bib for food and the Good Hotel Guide editor’s choice for gastropub of the year, awards keep mounting up for the food at this 16th-century pub on a hilltop with views of the Sussex countryside. The High Weald Trail — a 90-mile trail through an area of outstanding natural beauty from Horsham to Rye — is on the doorstep and the pub provides OS maps for walkers.
Details: Three courses start from about £23. (01342 810369,catinn.co.uk)
13. The Polecat Inn
Open fires, views over the Chiltern valley and a magnificent beer garden all feature at this charming 17th-century village pub. Food offerings are resolutely British: starters such as crispy whitebait served in pint glasses, and hearty pies with fillings such as venison, goats’ cheese and beef with craft ales. With the Chiltern Hills on the doorstep, there are hundreds of miles of well-kept footpaths over sweeping chalk grasslands in the surrounding area.
Details: Three courses start from about £22 (01494 862253,thepolecatinn.co.uk)
14. The Taverners
Godshill, Isle of Wight
In the quaint village of Godshill, the Taverners is blessed with excellent walking, including an hour-long amble to the graceful shell of the 18th-century Appuldurcombe House (english-heritage.org.uk) and back. The walk can be extended to a point with views of the Needles and the Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth. The laid-back pub has exposed brick walls and wood fittings, plus a menu with seafood (smoked mackerel and scallops), local cheeses and good, honest beef and ale pies.
Details: Three courses are from about £24.25 (01983 840707,thetavernersgodshill.co.uk)
15. Duke of Cumberland Arms
There’s a delightful circular walk from this relaxed pub in the South Downs National Park that takes in one of the country’s oldest Roman roads, bridleways, copses and common land. In spring, the pub is covered in creepers, and there’s a tiered garden with pools, a couple of tiny bars with scrubbed tables and a menu bursting with local produce, including South Downs venison ragu.
Details: Three courses are from about £25 (01428 652280,dukeofcumberland.com)
Giles Coren, Times restaurant critic
16. The Horseshoe Inn
Levisham, North Yorkshire
This family-run village inn is close to the North York Moors heritage railway and gorgeous Newtondale, a steep wooded gorge ideal for walks; coastal hikes around Scarborough are just 20 miles away. The menu consists of solid pub grub staples with local touches, including Yorkshire beef and Whitby haddock.
Details: Three courses are from £22. (01751 460240,horseshoelevisham.co.uk)
17. The Kirkstile Inn
With a gorgeous backdrop of Lakeland fells, there are great walks from this whitewashed Tudor-era pub to Loweswater and Crummock Water. The inside, complete with exposed oak beams and log fires, is redolent of history, and there are beers from the Cumbrian Legendary Ales. The kitchen team of six chefs, meanwhile, use using Cumbrian and Lake District suppliers; dishes include pan-fried Barbary duck breast and chicken, Cumbrian ham and leek pudding.
Details: Three courses are from about £20. (01900 85219,kirkstile.com)
18. Mill at Conder Green
Slave trade history, country views, smoked produce and hand-pulled local brews . . . you can pack in a lot with a stay at this heritage inn with modern styling, set along the Lancaster Canal. Pull yourself away from the chic rooms with stripped wooden floors and a restaurant offering contemporary takes on traditional Lancashire recipes to hit the canal towpath. A 25-minute walk will take you to Glasson Dock where cargoes of sugar, spices, rum and slaves from the West Indies disembarked. While there, take in the Port of Lancaster Smokehouse for Morecombe Bay potted shrimp and Tuscan-style pancetta, as well as smoked meats and fish.
Details: Three courses at the pub start from £23. (01524 752852,themillatcondergreen.co.uk)
19. Village Limits Country Pub
Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire
Lincolnshire’s 2015 pub of the year, this friendly multipurpose venue operates as a posh restaurant, a B&B, and the epicentre of village life. A ten-minute walk brings you to Woodhall Spa, home of the Dambusters, a unique cinema, Kinema in the Woods, and woodland walks along the Viking Way long-distance footpath.
Details: Three courses start from about £22.75. (01526 353312,villagelimits.co.uk)
20. The Bridge Inn at Ratho
Overlooking the Union Canal, this warming pub with an outside terrace and two restaurant barges has a touch of The Good Lifeabout it; the owners breed saddleback pigs and tend a walled garden that supplies everything from carrots and potatoes to leeks and salad leaves. There are towpath walks along the eight miles to Lochrin Basin near Edinburgh’s Haymarket station.
Details: Three courses start from about £21. (0131 333 1320,bridgeinn.com)
21. The Globe Inn
There are walks along the four-mile Holkham Beach and around the Holkham estate from this chic inn overlooking a Georgian square in the harbour town of Wells-next-the-Sea. Combine them with a pint and a menu of classics including clam linguine, venison burger and pan-fried sea bass fillet.
Details: Three courses start from about £22. (01328 710206,theglobeatwells.co.uk)
22. Rose & Crown
Mussels, oysters and samphire from Brancaster, vegetables from local farmers, herbs from the allotments of Snettisham, and game from the gentlemen propping up the back bar . . . almost everything on your plate at this upmarket village inn will have been sourced locally. The inn is on the edge of The Wash, and there’s a scenic woodland walk through Lodge Hill Plantation’s ancient oak trees.
Details: Three courses start from about £32. (01485 541382,roseandcrownsnettisham.co.uk)
23. The Black Lion
Loosen your belt before a meal at this once-derelict 18th-century inn, which offers offering dishes such as Welsh lamb done three ways — roast cutlet, shepherd’s pie and braised shoulder — served in a traditional bar area with wood-burning stoves and slate floors. Walk off lunch or dinner on the incredible 125-mile Isle of Anglesey Coastal Path, which rises 4,200m as it circumnavigates the island and offers views as far as Snowdonia.
Details: Three courses start from about £31.50. (01407 730718,blacklionanglesey.com)
24. Clachaig Inn
With views of the jaw-dropping Scottish Highlands, this award-winning local is renowned for the quality of firmly Scottish dishes, including Isle of Lewis black pudding and venison pastrami. There’s also regular entertainment in the 300-year-old main bar, relaxed rooms, and walks in mountain scenery to viewpoints such as Buachaille Etive Mòr.
Details: Three courses start from about £25. (01855 811252,clachaig.com)
25. Harbour Bar
Portrush, Northern Ireland
Overlooking Portrush Harbour, and part of a wider complex with entertainment and dining options, this relaxed pub claims to be the oldest on the northern coast, and was also Northern Ireland’s 2013 pub of the year. Food is more snacky than upmarket, but the buzzy sister bistro next door offers grill dishes produced on a wood-fired oven for authentic flavours. Just outside is a coastal walk to the village of Portstewart, four miles away.
Details: Three courses start from about £20. (028 7082 2430,ramorerestaurant.com)