Coast-to-Coast England

Hiking the English Way

Let's set the stage. Raining, of course. Muddy, which is why even aristocrats wear those green rubber boots called"Wellies." You've just finished climbing over hill and dale, and it's the end of the hiking day. What have you got to look forward to? If you're a veteran of American trails, you might expect some combination of the following: A tent that will be soggy by morning. A one-pot meal cooked over a sputtery stove. An evening spent reading by flashlight while snuggled up against your hiking partner's armpit. As for a shower — well, it's raining outside, isn't it?

But this is England, where things are a bit more civilized. So think again.

Your day ends at a small village where you have a reservation at a B&B. A pot of hot tea awaits. You're shown the sitting room and the dining room, where tables are set for breakfast (cloth napkins, of course). Your room is furnished with clean linens. A steaming hot bath is drawn. Dinner's at the local pub, but not before you have your pint of beer — a different brand each night, if you like.

As for food, I know all the jokes. "The English conquered the world in search of a good meal," chortles my father, who (it should be said) has been happily eating my English mother's cooking for forty-some years. Maybe what they say about hiking appetites is true: After a hard day of hill walking, you'll eat anything that doesn't run away. But see for yourself: beef in beer sauce, duck, roast beef, and Yorkshire pudding, fresh fish and chips, even lasagna and curry. British pub food has gone international. It's also hearty, tasty, filling — in other words — just what the hiker ordered.

The result: A hike across England could spoil you forever.

Published: 30 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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