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Places to eat and drink in Kite Country

In order to cater for the large numbers of tourists who visit Kite Country and its many attractions each year, a wide variety of restaurants and pubs provide good food and drink throughout the region. Unfortunately, very few of these are searchable online. Of these, almost all are hotels and are mentioned on my Places to Stay and Links pages.

Whilst the best hotels will provide very good food, my own particular preference throughout Great Britain in general and particularly in Kite Country is to dine in one of the many country pubs or inns, where the menus are often very original and frequently offer better value. As an added bonus you will dine in very friendly company, mixing with local people, and will also be able to enjoy some superb real ales (but not if you are driving...!

For a variety of reasons I can particularly recommend the Bell at Skenfrith, to the North-East of Abergavenny, the Crown at Pantygelli, at the base of Sugar Loaf mountain just North of Abergavenny (see Map 6), the White Swan in Llanfrynach in the Usk valley (Map 2), the Nantyffin Cider Mill on the River Usk just to the West of Crickhowell (see Map 6), the Felin Fach Griffin, just North of Brecon (see Map 7and the Bear Hotel in the centre of Crickhowell. Also worth the journey into the hills is the Bull's Head high up in the Black Mountains in Craswall (also Map 6), the Skirrid Mountain Inn in Llanfihangel Crucorney (Map 6), the Royal Oak in Pencelli (see Map 2) and the Traveller's Rest in Talybont on Usk, right next to the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal (see Map 9).

I would especially like to mention the fine little Shoemakers Arms pub and restaurant in the village of Pentre Bach, just 3 miles North of the main A40 road at Sennybridge. This place is very special because it was purchased by the community in 2000 to maintain it as a vital centre of village life. It is a very attractive and well run establishment serving good food and excellent real ale and was voted best pub in Powys in 2002 by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA). Also worth the tricky drive into the Black Mountains is the Bridge Inn at Michaelchurch Escley (Map 4). This has the added benefit of sitting right between two beats of the lovely Escley Brook, a tributary of the Monnow hiding some excellent brown trout.

STOP PRESS January 2010: The famous Walnut Tree Inn at Llandewi Skirrid, a few miles to the East of Abergavenny (Map 6), has just been awarded a Michelin star, which is a fitting tribute to the hard work of the new chef Shaun Hill and his very friendly staff. I was lucky enough to enjoy a super lunch there this month and can thoroughly recommend this excellent restaurant, which remains very reasonably priced for an establishment of this quality. It is now one of four restaurants in Wales to receive this accolade.

Other rather special eateries worth trying include the Foxhunter at Nantyderry, near Usk (for some the best dining pub in the United Kingdom), the Newbridge at Tredunnock, also near Usk, and the Hardwick, near Abergavenny.

However, there are many, many more and part of the fun in travelling around Kite Country derives from exploring some of the pubs in the more isolated corners of the hills and valleys. For more ideas try the Good Pub Guide. In general, you will also be given much more generous portions in the smaller pubs of the villages than you would ever receive in the city and the food is invariably very fresh and probably from a farm nearby.

Although it is always possible to get vegetarian food in Britain, please remember that Kite Country is largely a sheep and cattle-rearing area (see my Farming page) and the menus will probably reflect this. There will also be fresh trout and salmon. If you stay in farmouse bed and breakfast accommodation you will almost certainly be offered a huge cooked meal of bacon, sausages, egg and all the rest! I shall be exploring more pubs in earnest in the future and will let you know about any more finds!

In the towns of Kite Country almost anything goes and there are plenty of Pizza houses, Chinese, Indian and Thai restaurants to keep you going in addition to the more traditional offerings such as fish and chip shops. You will not go hungry if you come to Kite Country.

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Click pictures to enlarge. Those with a red caption may take a long time to download.
Nantyffin Cider Mill, near Crickhowell
Nantyffin Cider Mill
Griffin Inn at Erwood
Griffin Inn at Erwood
Bell Inn at Skenfrith
Bell Inn at Skenfrith