6 QUICK TRIPS We pick our top half-term hide­aways

Need to get away from it all? These cool bolt holes will make the per­fect base for a fam­ily foodie week away, from Northum­ber­land’s wild shores to Devon’s new seafood coast, and some cool coun­try­side in be­tween

BBC Good Food - - Contents -

NORTHUM­BER­LAND Best for… sea­side retreats and su­perb fish feasts

Food-rich rivers, coast and farm­land char­ac­terise Northum­ber­land, along with a re­mote­ness that al­lows kids to be kids with no one scowl­ing at them. As your base choose the sea­side vil­lage of Al­n­mouth, whose col­lage of red, blue and sand­stone houses are a dis­tinc­tive lo­cal land­mark. In re­cent years, word has got out about the vil­lage’s fine col­lec­tion of pubs and tea houses.

Cen­tral Al­n­mouth Vil­lage Tea Rooms (58 Northum­ber­land St), is per­fect af­ter a morn­ing on the beach, with home cooked dishes rang­ing from ham pie (£5) to fresh crab sand­wiches (£6); a whop­ping af­ter­noon tea (£9) of cake, scones and sand­wiches feeds two chil­dren. The nearby Red Lion (redlion al­n­mouth.com) is ex­cel­lent, serv­ing pork burg­ers for chil­dren (£12), seabass with mushy peas (£15), and Northum­ber­land sir­loin steak with mush­rooms (£19). Curlew’s Re­turn from the Al­len­dale Brew­ery is among four lo­cal ales to en­joy while over­look­ing the es­tu­ary. An­other day, head to Craster and walk the mile to ru­ined Dun­stan­burgh Cas­tle be­fore buy­ing smoked had­dock from L Rob­son & Sons (kip­per.co.uk), a tra­di­tional Northum­ber­land smok­ery. Where to stay Mal­colm Miller House (cot­ta­gesin northum­ber­land.co.uk),a con­verted town­house, is set right by a white sandy beach and an at­trac­tive play park, over­look­ing the lan­guid Aln es­tu­ary and sleeps five peo­ple. From £410 per week in­clud­ing special dis­counts at foodie hotspots across the county. Mark Rowe

HAMP­SHIRE Best for… log cabin com­fort and for­est fun

A stay in a lux­ury log cabin sur­rounded by Hamp­shire’s Black­wood For­est, is some­thing even the out­doors-averse will en­joy. If you man­age to pry the kids from the all-weather hot tub, there are myr­iad wood­land ac­tiv­i­ties. Hire bikes and fol­low cross coun­try trails, in­volve them in the for­got­ten art of den build­ing, or try the tu­tored ranger walks in­clud­ing foodie for­ag­ing. Cabin kitchens are well equipped, in­clud­ing bar­be­cues. Break­fast ham­pers and BBQ meat packs can be pre-or­dered, and the cen­tral bar/restau­rant serves fam­ily favourites. Crank the lux­ury up a few notches with a pri­vate chef for the night. A food fairy ar­rives, in­dulges you with dishes like home smoked duck and plum salad or fil­let of had­dock with sumac crumb, then mag­ics ev­ery­thing away. Within a short drive, Winch­ester is a hive of restau­rant ac­tiv­ity. Hugh Fearn­ley Whit­tingstall has a River Cot­tage can­teen here (river­cot­tage.net), and Rick Stein (rick­stein.com) chose it as his first lo­ca­tion out­side Corn­wall. Very much a lo­cal restau­rant, Stein still fo­cuses on his sig­na­ture su­per fresh seafood, cooked sim­ply. Where to stay For­est Hol­i­days

( foresthol­i­days.co.uk) was set up by the Forestry Com­mis­sion to help pre­serve wood­land. Black­wood For­est of­fers three-night breaks for four dur­ing half-term, from £665. Bar­ney Des­maz­ery

SOUTH DEVON Best for… eat­ing “Eng­land’s Seafood Coast”

The coun­try’s high­est value seafood catch is landed at Brix­ham, yet less than 10 per cent is eaten lo­cally. Chef Mitch Tonks and lo­cal tourism bod­ies aim to change this, with the

new Seafood Coast ini­tia­tive to make the English Riviera an in­ter­na­tional seafood cap­i­tal. Start with a tour of Brix­ham Fish Market (Wed­nes­days, 6am: £15pp, from 14 years; vis­it­brix­ham.com), where 40 va­ri­eties of fish go up for auc­tion. Then walk along the South West Coast Path (south­west­coast path.org.uk), be­fore lunch at Rock­fish (the­rock­fish.co.uk). Mitch Tonks’ restau­rant, above the market, serves premium catch of the day, lo­cal cock­les and crab, and Seafood Coast Ale, the cre­ation of Tonks and Sal­combe brewer, Tom Made­ri­ous (mains £10-20).

En­joy crab­bing off neigh­bour­ing Torquay’s har­bour walls (kit £5 from wa­ter­front shops), then check into Park Hill House, a lux­u­ri­ous hill­top re­treat with glass walls over­look­ing the Ja­panese tiered gar­den and sweep­ing coast, plus there’s a cin­ema room and five en-suite dou­ble bed­rooms. Make it ex­tra special and lo­cal chef Nina Groves will come and cook up a seafood menu to suit all the fam­ily, in­clud­ing cre­ative canapés (a favourite with the kids). Five-min­utes’ walk away, at No 7 Bistro, you can choose your catch of the day, ex­pertly cooked and served with sea greens and a huge choice of wines, in­clud­ing good lo­cal English la­bels. Next door, book a great-value, one Miche­lin-star lunch at The Ele­phant (two cour­ses £16.50; £6.95 for chil­dren in­clud­ing a drink; ele­phantrestau­rant.co.uk), where menus fea­ture home-farmed pro­duce and lo­cal catch. The Brix­ham hake with sea­weed but­ter and pur­ple pota­toes was del­i­cate per­fec­tion; the kids’ pasta with cheese, an ac­ces­si­bly grown-up dish.

Where to stay Park Hill House (bluechiphol­i­days.co.uk) sleeps 10 and costs from £1,401 for three nights in Oc­to­ber. Sarah Bar­rell

SHROP­SHIRE Best for…. cool cab­ins and coun­try walks

Hills, re­mote pubs and land­marks, such as the Long Mynd, make Shrop­shire a won­der­ful place for a fam­ily food break, where lit­tle ones can stretch their legs and try fine lo­cal fare. Stay at An­nie’s Cabin, an eye-pop­ping self-cater­ing struc­ture of Dou­glas fir logs in a meadow out­side Ludlow. Ge­orge Tasker, its genius cre­ator, pro­vides a wel­come ham­per, in­clud­ing pain au lev­ain from Price & Son’s Bak­ery ( prices­the­bak­ers.co.uk), fresh as­para­gus, cher­ries, rasp­ber­ries and straw­ber­ries from Ludlow Food Cen­tre (lud­low­food­cen­tre.co.uk), and fresh juices from Ap­pleteme (ap­pleteme.com). The cabin’s wood pel­let stove has a small oven ideal for casseroles, while the earth oven will cook piz­zas in a flash. Ven­ture west to Bishop’s Cas­tle, a hub of quirky, in­de­pen­dent shops (shrop­shire­foodand­drink.co.uk). Favourites here in­clude An­drew Pugh Butch­ers (ajpugh­butch­ers. co.uk), on Church Street, where you can buy a Des­per­ate Dan-sized fid­get pie (£1.85), a lo­cal spe­cialty, with gam­mon, ap­ple, ba­con and thyme, or pick up samosas (£2)

from the Chai Shop (33, High Street). Two out­stand­ing pubs of­fer fine food: the Cas­tle Hotel (the­castle­ho­tel bish­op­scas­tle.co.uk), has a gar­den with views to en­joy smoked had­dock topped with rarebit (£15). Or try, the at­mo­spheric Three Tuns (thethree tun­sinn.co.uk) whose taps run with ale from the next-door brew­ery. Por­tions are hearty clas­sics such as beer-bat­tered fish (£12).

Where to stay An­nie’s Cabin (ludlow ecolog­cab­ins.co.uk) sleeps four and costs from £395 per week. Mark Rowe

THE COTSWOLDS Best for… lux­ury cot­tages and gourmet treats

Ar­riv­ing through the fog on a win­ter’s night, Bruern Cot­tages lit up in the dark­ness has a mag­i­cal feel. This mini ham­let of smart stone cot­tages tucked away on a four-acre es­tate in the Cotswold Hills, was once the coach house of Bruern Abbey. From lux­ury linens and an­tique fur­ni­ture, to a bas­ket of wood to feed the open fire, the cot­tages feel like your very own coun­try manor. The in­door pool was a huge hit with the chil­dren (the ideal tem­per­a­ture, ap­par­ently), as were the ex­ten­sive gar­dens and out­door play ar­eas; a cool games’ room the hang­out for older kids. With a gen­er­ous wel­come bas­ket, you may be tempted to stay put. Break­fast is great, with lo­cal sausages, ba­con and dairy from the wel­come bas­ket. Beau­ti­ful blue, brown and white Crack­le­bean lo­cal eggs were a de­light for the chil­dren; cham­pagne, cider and lemon driz­zle cake treats for later on. Just be­yond Bruern, Bur­ford Gar­den Cen­tre has choco­late gifts, home­made ready meals, an ar­ray of gin and the chance to stock up on those Crack­le­bean eggs. Feel­ing more out­doorsy? You can ‘catch your own’ at Bibury Trout Farm. Worth a visit for the set­ting alone. Gourmet pubs abound in the lo­cal stone vil­lages (cotswolds.com/food-and-drink). The Plough (thek­ing­ham­plough. co.uk), 10 min­utes’ away in King­ham, is fam­ily friendly, with clas­sic chil­dren’s of­fer­ings (mains £6) and a menu re­plete with lo­cal lamb and cheeses (mains £18-23). Where to stay Bruern Cot­tages (bruern-hol­i­day-cot­tages.co.uk) sleep 2-10; a two-bed­room costs from £540 per week. Jilly Top­ping

NORTH NOR­FOLK Best for…. beau­ti­ful barns and beaches

With some of the coun­try’s best beaches, al­lur­ing old market towns, and un­du­lat­ing farm­land, North Nor­folk makes a great fam­ily food break. Six con­verted barns in North Barn­sham, which can be rented to­gether or in­di­vid­u­ally, Barn­sham Barns is an ideal base for ex­plor­ing. It’s self­ca­ter­ing, but chefs are avail­able to cook fam­ily-friendly fare, with drop-off meals avail­able too (three-course din­ners from £16.50; £3.75 per child por­tion). Nearby, farm­ers’ mar­kets in­clude Creake Abbey and Fak­en­ham, where you should seek out honey, saf­fron and fresh seafood (sea bass, crabs, lob­sters), and lo­cal ales from Bran­caster Brew­ery, Nor­folk Brew­house and Yet­man’s Brew­ery.

Gur­neys Fish Shop in Burn­ham Market ( gur­neysfishshop.co.uk), has hot smoked salmon pâté, fish­cakes and French-style fish soup, plus lo­cal catches, at market prices. Gas­tro pubs, such as Vic­to­ria Inn, the Crown Inn, the Wive­ton Bell and the White Horse, are the best for sam­pling lo­cal dishes, while the Miche­lin-starred Morston Hall is great to splash out; the

£75-a-head tast­ing menu in­cludes cour­ses such as Holkham Hall veni­son with salt-baked beet­root and cabbage white pep­per jus. Walk it all off at nearby Wells-next-the-sea where huge swathes of sand are backed by colour­ful beach huts and pine for­est.

Where to stay Barn­sham Barns (bar­sham barns.co.uk) sleep 4-14 and cost from £425 for three-nights min­i­mum stay. Pat Rid­dell As­sis­tance for this fea­ture was pro­vided by: For Devon, the­bluechiphol­i­days.co.uk and en­glishriv­iera.co.uk; for Hamp­shire, for­est hol­i­days.co.uk; for Nor­folk, bar­sham­barns. co.uk; for Northum­bria, visit northum­ber­land. com and cot­ta­gesin­northum­ber­land.co.uk; for Shrop­shire, lud­lowe­colog­cab­ins.co.uk and shrop­shire tourism.co.uk; for the Cotswolds, bruern-hol­i­day-cot­tages.co.uk

Brix­ham Har­bour Rock­fish

Ludlow Food Cen­tre An­nie’s Cabin wood pel­let stove Trout fish­ing at Bibury Trout Farm

The White Horse Wells-next-the-sea

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