This piece is brought to you in association with Taste Durham.
There aren’t many more beautiful places in the country to go rambling than the Durham Dales, and few more welcome sights at the end of a long walk than a country inn with roaring log fires, real ales which have been given the thumbs-up by Camra’s Good Beer Guide, and a beer garden too should the sun come out. Essentially, you want the Punch Bowl Inn.
Everyone’s welcome to unwind at this independently owned and operated pub, which prides itself on its high-grade food and the depth and breadth of its ale and wine selection. Dogs are particularly welcome – and there are towels on hand to dry off any particularly mucky pups after a walk.
The idea of putting a modern British spin on traditional country dishes isn’t a new one, but at the Punch Bowl Inn’s Oak Room restaurant they’ve finessed it more than most: the battered haddock, the four-cheese pie and the chef’s signature steak and ale pie might sound familiar, but in the hands of Head Chef Jason Long they are reinvigorated. Jason has worked at the Punch Bowl Inn for 10 years now, and knows the local produce and producers better than anyone.
Don’t be fooled by the old-world handsomeness here, though: the menu is very diverse. The aforementioned gastropub favourites are all present and correct, but beyond them there are more exotic dishes like Malaysian pork meatballs and teriyaki salmon. The scope of the menu is global, but it’s always based on locally sourced, seasonal produce, hence why they’ve been named a Taste Durham Highest Quality Assured establishment.
The high-quality real ales are the first port of call for most exhausted walkers here, but the extensive wine list is very much worth exploring too, and each item on the food menu has been paired with a wine to complement it. Plus, the six boutique four-star en suite rooms the pub has mean you needn’t have to worry about sorting out a taxi afterwards. Stay over, get yourself a full English breakfast and continue your explorations of the area.
The pub’s position is tough to beat. Edmundbyers is a peaceful corner of County Durham, and if you want to work up an appetite before heading to the Punch Bowl Inn then there are loads of walking and cycling routes nearby, including the Coast To Coast route, as well as Derwent Sailing Club, the local fishing club, and first-rate pheasant and grouse shooting grounds. The Punch Bowl Inn will even make you a packed lunch to take with you on your explorations. It’s the absolute ideal of a country pub.
The Punch Bowl Inn
Edmundbyers DH8 9NL
October is Taste Durham month, and to celebrate we’re giving away a fine-dining treat of three courses, wine and champagne for two at Seaham Hall’s award-winning Byron’s Restaurant. To be in with a chance of winning, go to www.thisisdurham.com/livingnorth
Images: Peter Atkinson