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The 10 best British hotels and inns for winter walks

There's nothing like a crisp winter walk straight from your hotel door. Here are the Good Hotel Guide's ten best hotels, pubs and B&Bs in Britain. Many are dog friendly too.

Shieldaig Lodge, Gairloch, Highlands

Here are the Good Hotel Guide's ten best hotels, pubs and B&Bs in Britain that are ideal for a riverside ramble or a hilly hike in the country. Many are dog friendly too.

The Gurnard’s Head, Zennor, Cornwall

On Cornwall’s Atlantic coast, the Gurnard’s Head makes a great spot for storm watching. There are wild walks along the coastal path to Lands End, past Botallack tin mine, which featured in Polldark. Or head in the other direction for about four hours to St Ives and the Tate gallery. Back at the inn, there’s a log fire burning in the bar, a restaurant that features local seafood, and seven bedrooms with Roberts radios and books instead of televisions.

Details: B&B doubles from £135. Winter escapes for two people, with dinner, from £170 a night (gurnardshead.co.uk). Dogs welcome

Pen-y-Dyffryn, Oswestry, Shropshire

Set in the hills of the Welsh borders, this dog-friendly hotel is an ideal place for walking breaks. It’s less than a mile from Offa’s Dyke long-distance trail, and there are plenty of footpaths nearby, with routes that take from half an hour to a full day. The hotel can supply both walking maps and sandwiches; when you return, a four-course meal awaits, featuring such dishes as Welsh lamb or Shropshire venison. Some of the 14 modern rooms feature spa baths to soothe aching muscles. 

Details: Dinner, B&B for two from £180 (peny.co.uk). Dogs welcome. 

The White Horse, Brancaster Staithe, Norfolk

The Norfolk coast takes on a special quality in winter, with its miles of quiet beaches, marshland and enormous skies. Stay at this family-run hotel and you can explore it easily by heading down to the bottom of the garden straight onto the Norfolk Coast Path. The restaurant, with its seafood specialities, has gorgeous views across tidal salt marshes to the sea and Scolt Head Island. The same view is shared by some of the 15 bedrooms in blue-green and sandy hues, including one duplex with its own telescope. 

Details: B&B doubles from £120 (whitehorsebrancaster.co.uk). Dogs welcome.

The Rock Inn, Newton Abbot, Devon

Head out of the front door of this country inn and you can climb Haytor in less than half an hour, walking on to the deserted medieval village at Hound Tor, with the rest of Dartmoor at your feet. After your hike, there will be plenty of warm hospitality in the bar with its oak furniture, log fires and local ales. Food is served here and in several small dining rooms. Upstairs are nine cosy bedrooms with exposed beams and antique furniture. 

Details: B&B doubles from £120 (rock-inn.co.uk). Dogs welcome.

Shieldaig Lodge, Gairloch, Highland

On a 26,000-acre estate, this former Victorian hunting lodge might offer deer stalking, fishing and falconry, but it is a surprisingly unpretentious hotel with some keen prices. There are plenty of walks on the estate, whether you want to climb a munro, take a guided hike to the Fairy Lochs, or head to Red Point Faraway Beach, with its impressive dunes and salmon bothies. Back at the hotel, sip one of 250 whiskies in front of a log fire or drink in the loch views from some of the 12 Caledonian-style bedrooms. 

Details: B&B doubles from £120 (shieldaiglodge.com).

The Peacock at Rowsley, Derbyshire

The Peak District national park with its range of picturesque walks is right on your doorstep when you stay in this converted 17th-century manor house owned by Lord and Lady Edward Manners of Haddon Hall. It’s a refined base, but not too mired in the past: the 15 bedrooms mix ancestral portraits and antiques with contemporary colours and modern furnishings. There is a lovely eight-mile round trip walk along the River Derwent to Chatsworth Hall, with an optional pit stop at the Red Lion in Bakewell. 

Details: B&B doubles from £215 (thepeacockatrowsley.co.uk). Dogs welcome.

Ael Y Bryn, Eglwyswrw, Pembrokeshire

Discover Pembrokeshire’s dramatic coastal paths and the Preseli hills from this adults-only B&B run by the friendly hosts Robert Smith and Arwel Hughes. Should the weather do its worst, there is a drying room for muddy clothes and a log burner to warm yourself in the beamed sitting room. Dinner can be pre booked, and afterwards, the dark skies are perfect for stargazing. The four bedrooms, like the rest of the spacious house with an inner courtyard, are all on the ground floor. 

Details: B&B doubles from £110 (aelybrynpembrokeshire.co.uk).

The Bell at Skenfrith, Monmouthshire

Six circular walks lead from the front door of this 300-year-old former coaching inn into the surrounding countryside and along the banks of the River Monrow; illustrated guides are available showing not only the route but the history and wildlife associated with each one. There is even a family walk in which children search for clues about the history of Skenfrith Castle. Extensive refurbishment in the Bell’s public rooms has followed on from recent flooding, their light and airy interiors now more in turn with the 11 contemporary bedrooms. Pooches can eat with their owners in the Dog and Boot bar. 

Details: B&B doubles from £150 (thebellatskenfrith.co.uk). Dogs welcome.

Forest Side, Grasmere, Cumbria

Whether you’re a relaxed rambler or a serious hiker, this 20-room hotel makes an elegant place to base yourself to explore the Lake District. There are many walks from the doorstop; it is just ten minutes to Grasmere, from where you can take a gentle four-mile lakeside ramble, or climb to Easedale to access the higher fells, with their breath-taking views. The reward at the end of the day is a four or eight-course Michelin-starred meal that uses produce from the walled potager, and a super stylish bedroom.

Details: B&B doubles from £229, dinner bed and breakfast for two for £299 (theforestside.com). Dogs welcome.

The Bushmills Inn, Bushmills, County Antrim

It’s wonderfully atmospheric in the seventeenth century Bushmills Inn with its higgledy-piggledy rooms and a bar that is still lit by gas light and warmed by peat fires. It’s just a couple of miles’ walk to the Giant’s Causeway and coastal trails, following the old tramline. Other Causeway Coast attractions, including Game of Thrones filming locations, can be explored by car. Back at the inn, dine in a wooden booth before retiring to a cottage style beamed room.

Details: B&B doubles from £120 (bushmillsinn.com). 

The Good Hotel Guide 2021 is on sale now for £14.95 in paperback

Or see the website for more ideas for hotels for walkers and hikers.

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