Warm zones

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Warm wel­come: Beat­ing Scot­land’s win­ter chill at the Clachaig Inn, Glen­coe and there are smart gue­strooms up­stairs from £100 a dou­ble. www.bull­sheadinn.co.uk.

The Lord Nel­son, South­wold, Suf­folk: There are lots of good pubs in South­wold, but the Nel­lie is the best, and near­est to the sea; walk down East Street and, if you get wet, you’ve gone past it. It’s the warmth of the wel­come you no­tice here as much as the heat from the blaz­ing fire. There’s good, sim­ple, home-cooked pub grub, a flag­stoned main bar and, of course, sub­lime Ad­nams beer: have a pint of the win­ter brew, the thick, porter-like Tal­lyHo. The per­fect stop-off af­ter a North Sea-blasted walk down the prom. www.th­elord­nel­son­south­wold.co.uk.

The Tal­bot, Knightwick, Worces­ter­shire: It wasn’t too cosy last sum­mer when the flooded River Teme came slosh­ing over the bar but af­ter re­fur­bish­ment by lo­cal crafts­men, the Tal­bot is back to its tra­di­tional best. Its own brew­ery makes the This, That and Tother beers, and the rich, win­ter-only Hearth Warmer, to be en­joyed by the log fire. Food’s a fea­ture here, too: sal­ads from the gar­den, bread and black pud­ding made in the kitchen, the rest painstak­ingly sourced from lo­cal pro­duc­ers (there’s a good farm­ers mar­ket here on the sec­ond Sun­day of each month). www.the-tal­bot.co.uk.

The Red Lion, Pre­ston, Hert­ford­shire: Lost down coun­try lanes near the com­muter towns of St Al­bans and Hitchin, this is a de­light­ful vil­lage pub, and it should be, as it’s owned by the vil­lagers. Whit­bread was go­ing to turn it into a steak­house, so the lo­cals clubbed to­gether and bought the place to pre­serve its

Lo­cal hero: The Red Lion, owned by res­i­dents of Pre­ston, is at the heart of vil­lage life char­ac­ter. Now it’s the cen­tre of vil­lage life; the Ge­or­gian build­ing, right on the green, also serves as the pavil­ion for the lo­cal cricket team. It of­fers a grand fire and plenty of warm­ing ales: the land­lord spe­cialises in sourc­ing beers from small craft brew­eries. There are Youngs beers, too: the Win­ter Warmer does ex­actly what it says on the pump. www.pre­stonvil­lage­herts.com.

Square and Com­pass, Worth Ma­travers, Dorset: This old quar­ry­men’s pub out­side Swan­age doesn’t have a bar: just walk in, go up to the hatch and ask for a pint of Ring­wood Best, and they’ll tap it straight from the bar­rel. It’s a won­der­ful old build­ing, made from lo­cal Purbeck stone, and a great ex­am­ple of what hap­pens when you leave a place alone to ma­ture. It has been run by the New­man fam­ily for the past 100 years, and they don’t seem to have changed any­thing in all that time, apart from adding a small di­nosaur mu­seum (com­plete with fos­silised poo). Well, it keeps the kids happy while you have an­other pint by the fire. www.the­good­pub­guide.co.uk.

The Blue An­chor, Hel­ston, Corn­wall: Ap­pro­pri­ately, this 15th-cen­tury min­ers’ pub looks as though it has been hewn from the rock, then had a thatched roof plonked on top. It is pop­u­lar with lo­cals and tourists, though you’ll find more of the for­mer in sum­mer. Out­side and in, all is thor­oughly tra­di­tional: flag­stone floors, roar­ing fires, a skit­tle al­ley but, above that, the rea­son to come is the de­li­cious and strong Spingo Ales, which they brew them­selves. The win­ter beer, Ex­tra

Tra­di­tional best: The Tal­bot, Knightwick Spe­cial, is a thick, dark barn­stormer at nearly 8 per cent ABV: when it’s in­tro­duced each year, the whole town slows down for a week or two. www.sp­in­go­a­les.com.

The Old Gate Inn, Brass­ing­ton, Der­byshire: And the win­ner is . . . Sim­ply the per­fect win­ter pub: you won’t find a cosier place in Bri­tain. It’s nearly 400 years old, and you can feel the his­tory; Bon­nie Prince Char­lie’s sol­diers were bil­leted here on their march to Lon­don, and some of the oak beams came from ships of the Span­ish Ar­mada. It pulls off the rare trick of be­ing a gen­uine lo­cal, packed with vil­lagers, but thor­oughly warm and wel­com­ing to vis­i­tors, too. With a fire blaz­ing in the range, this is the per­fect place to be on a cold day. www.der­byshireuk.net/der­byshire-food. The Sun­day Times

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