Don't you just love Sundays? The working week is over, you've done your Saturday jobs and it's time to kick back and relax with your family. For my fiancé and I Sundays mean on thing: long walks with the dog (a very lively springer spaniel) and a pub lunch. As neither of us is native to the North East we also use it as a great excuse to scout out new places. So with the promise of sunshine, one Sunday we loaded up the car (ball, frisbee and anything else we could find to entertain the dog) and set off towards rural Northumberland. With Louis enjoying a little g-force fun out of the open back window (that’s the dog, not the fiancé), it didn’t take long before we arrived in Chatton.
In the heart of the village, The Percy Arms has an enviable location. Minutes away from the A1, it straddles the countryside between Bamburgh, with its historic castle and sandy beach, and the Northumberland National Park with its stunning views, incredible flora and forna and array of country pursuits. It’s also a mere stone’s throw from Chillingham – home of earls, ghosts and an extraordinary breed of wild cattle. An ideal place for exploring and, on entering the pub car park, it seemed we weren’t the only ones with that idea.
For a rural country pub, The Percy Arms was bursting with atmosphere. While the Lyrca- clad cyclists enjoyed their hard-earned chips on the benches outside, the pub was filled with friendly locals greeting each other and sharing stories about trips to New York, last night’s antics and so-and-so’s state of health. It was very convivial, and for us, who both grew up in farming communities, something of a homecoming.
I’d decided what I was having before I even took my seat. Sunday afternoon calls for one thing and one thing only – slightly pink beef with fluffy roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding and lashings of gravy (£10.95). With a choice of pork, beef, lamb, chicken or cod, each of the roasts was served with a separate bowl of fresh vegetables, important to a self-confessed broccoli addict (yes, I’m aware how strange that is). They weren’t perturbed by my request for extra gravy either. As they say, you can take the girl out of Yorkshire...
But The Percy Arms also had a specials menu filled with rich offerings. To start I had smoked rump steak with vine tomatoes and a honey and mustard dressing (£7.25), while my fiancé tucked into parmesan crusted scallops, orange purée and tomato and chilli jam (£7.50) and then chose rump of lamb with heritage carrots, pea purée, mint gel and a blackberry croquette (£15.50). Accompanied by a glass of Chilean shiraz (£5.50), all went down a treat.
We rounded things off with gluten-free chocolate brownie sundae (£5.95) – trust me, you’ll need your appetite for that one – and a selection of Northumbrian cheese (£6.95); Doddington’s blue, smoked and nettle served with apple, chutney, crackers and frozen grapes, which were apparently something of a revelation. By the time we finished we were full to the brim (FTB as my Grandma would say) and ready to catch a few Zs.
Fortunately if you do gorge yourself so much that you need to relax by the fire or take a lie down, both are easily accommodated at The Percy Arms. It’s a great excuse to stay and play at being a local a little while longer.
Main Road, Chatton, Northumberland