From farm-to-fork: our favourite foodie pubs in Northumberland
Food lovers are well catered for in Northumberland. There’s a strong pub scene with chefs doing interesting things with classic dishes, as well as bringing imagination and flair to the table. Excellent local produce is showcased next to real ales, decent wines and locally brewed beer and gin. In stark contrast to the ruggedness of the county, you can always expect a warm welcome, even when arriving with kids and dogs in tow. Here are a handful of our favourite pubs (some award-winning) that serve up a cracking meal and restorative drink after a windswept walk or hardy hike. To make life easy, we’ve also included a collection of places to stay nearby.
Few inns can beat this atmospheric refuge nestled in a sheep-clad valley on the moors’ edge, open seven days a week for lunch, bar snacks, afternoon tea and dinner. Originally the abbot’s lodge and kitchens, now a listed building rebuilt with stone from the abbey’s ruins, it sits proudly in the village. Inside, ancient flags, inglenook fireplaces, fortress walls and a classy country style. With a head chef who worked alongside two Michelin star chef, Nathan Outlaw, the robust modern British menu is a hearty affair. Expect chargrilled cote de boeuf, baked North Sea cod loin, roasted local grouse, while puddings lean towards comfort: sticky toffee pudding, apple and bramble crumble, baked egg custard tart. Wines come by the glass, carafe or bottle, the gins are local, the cocktails sublime, and there are water bowls for dogs in the garden. Bedrooms dotted around the cottages are a treat with divine beds and deep baths.
Finalists in The Great British Pub Awards 2023 and Pub of the Year at the North East Tourism Awards 2024, The Beresford Arms’ nominations recognise and reflect their commitment to taking classic British comfort food and infusing it with a distinctive Beresford twist. This is a pub that embodies gastropub, showcasing seasonal ingredients with an ethical provenance to create menus bursting with flavour. Try bacon loin chop with lovage and parsley emulsion, cottage pie or pan-fried cod loin, all served with hand cut triple cooked chips. Kids are well-catered for and dogs are welcome to snooze in front of the fire while you try a local ale, beer or cider. Pretty riverside Morpeth is six miles down the road for strolls down cobbled streets dotted with indie shops and cafes.
Stay a half hour drive away at Coquet Cottage, a cosy bolthole for two in a tiny hamlet next to a river and pub; walk the hills or spend the day at the unspoiled coast.
A charming fishing village with a bustling harbour, Seahouses is the gateway to the Farne Islands – catch the ferry over to watch the puffins in action. Take a windswept walk across the dune-filled, rock-pooling beach, learn about daring Grace Darling, the lighthouse keeper’s daughter, who rowed though the waves to help rescue shipwrecked seafarers in 1838. Or stroll to mighty Bamburgh Castle then return to award-winning Bamburgh Castle Inn, open daily, for a slap-up meal. You get comforting pub grub here, all homemade and seasonal, like proper fish and chips, pies and burgers but also a few more adventurous dishes plus a decent kids’ menu and options for veggies and vegans. Sunday lunch is popular, best to book ahead.
Stay a twenty-minute drive away at Brunton House & Cottages, a big dower house and two cottages surrounded by superb gardens, a fishing lake and acres of glorious countryside, a short walk to the coast.
The Apple Inn is a short hop from the Northumberland Coast AONB. Home to some of the most spectacular, unspoilt coastline in the UK, the area’s plentiful hikes and walks through rugged landscape are delightfully tourist free. Set in the charming village of Lucker, this award-winning gastropub offers succour to tired legs, welcomes dogs with enthusiasm and is proud to showcase fresh Northumbrian produce including line-caught fish, grass-fed meat and interesting choices for vegans and vegetarians. Comforting puds, yummy kids’ menus, cracking Sunday roasts and a selection of local spirits and ales, including their own Lucker Gold and St Hildas ale from Alnwick Brewery, make this place the perfect place to pitch up after a blowy yomp.
Stay a twenty-minute drive away at Chillingham Manor,for much comfort and superb breakfasts, a herd of rare wild cattle and the glorious Northumbrian landscape all around.
The Rat Inn proudly boasts numerous awards including our 2016 Sawday’s Pubs best ‘local, seasonal and organic produce’ winner and more recently Estrella Damm’s Top 50 Gastropubs 2021, its thirteenth successive entry. In the heart of the Tyne Valley, Karen (front of house) and Phil (in the kitchen) have created a relaxed country pub vibe with daily-changing menus chalked up on the board featuring local, seasonal and ethical produce. Seasonal menus include Lindisfarne oysters and Robsons of Craster smoked salmon, tuck into perfectly cooked steaks from the grill, or try the tasty bar and light bites menu – homemade Scotch eggs with kimchi is a favourite. Sip a wine or real ale in front of a roaring fire in winter or the pretty garden in summer. It’s a pub that ticks all the boxes: talent in the kitchen, regular events and a summer festival, charm and character throughout.
Stay a ten-minute drive away at 3 Ada Crescent, a quietly charismatic Victorian home with fresh flowers, homemade breakfast, a sunny courtyard and two friendly dogs, a stroll into Hexham’s centre.
Not far from Alnwick, an idyllic market town with a magical castle beloved by Harry Potter fans, The Joiners Arms hits the nail on the head for country menus delivered in a cosy setting. Their ethos is simple – great quality food, locally sourced and lovingly prepared. They call it “honest, home-style cooking with a Northumbrian twist” which translates as choosing the best regional produce to create seasonal menus packed with flavour. Eat indoors at wooden tables, sip a glass of something cold in the pub garden on warm days then stroll five-minutes to the beach. All around are stunning views, rugged walks and breathtakingly beautiful beaches.
Carmen is a freelance writer specialising in travel. She once lived in a bus in north Wales, skipped off to study in Barcelona, and now calls Bristol home. When she’s not tapping away on her laptop, she can be found reading (a lot), lake swimming (a little), and pottering on the allotment with husband and two kiddos. She’s currently dreaming about cold cerveza and torta in Mexico.