What they say…
CONDÉ NAST TRAVELLER
The Great British Lock-in ENGLAND
The wonky beams, heavy puddling curtains and charcoal-grey palette here work just as well during the winter months as the pretty walled gardens and quintessential cricket pitch do in the summer. Right in the heart of the South Downs, this pub has a big catchment area: creative types scoot up from Brighton, a media-savvy crowd schleps down from London. The snug bar, with a dartboard and cricket bats, is where you warm up with a pint of Sussex bitter, and there’s relaxed, candlelit dining in the stable room. There’s nothing predictable about the menu, with seriously good game from the Firle estate and fishermen delivering their catch each morning. When the pub recently had a spruce-up and opened four bedrooms in the ramshackle eaves, the village collectively sighed for fear that their secret was out, but so far the place has kept its integrity. Rooms have village views through huge (although slightly drafty) sash windows. One is tongue-and-groove panelled, another has a free-standing bath. This isn’t high design but it’s concise and comfortable, and leaves the pub and stable room to take centre stage. Employ some restraint at breakfast (locally made sausages, eggs from the village) if you plan on staying for a Sunday roast – unless you sandwich a blustery country walk in between.
FROM THE SUNDAY TIMES
‘BRITAIN AND IRELAND’S BEST PUB GARDENS’
It’s the essence of summer: a good pint in the beautiful gardens of a smashing little pub. Here are our favourites
NO. 1 ‘THE RAM INN, FIRLE, EAST SUSSEX’
Some of the rural bohemian sorts who populate this corner of East Sussex are none too pleased that The Ram Inn, previously a
ramshackle, kooky watering hole, has tidied up both its act and its orchard.
This is now a pub garden for all ages, belonging to an establishment that caters to our modern desires — for good food, interesting drinking and cheery service. In a beautiful, fiercely preserved village at the foot of the Downs, the sprawling Ram is hugged on two sides by plum and apple trees, with two dozen wooden tables in the shade and a kids’ garden set aside, complete with pirate ship.
You can sit and sample the top-end pub menu or the guest beers, and if the midsummer crowds are too much, don’t despair: the pub backs onto a wonderful escape valve – one of the prettiest village cricket pitches in England.
THE SUNDAY TIMES
‘THE SOUTH DOWNS WAY’
I loved the Ram Inn in Firle as well — full of farmers’ faces and elderly men with sticks, laughter breaking in waves. After several days, pub food all begins to taste like scampi. Not here — this was the best-cooked venison I have ever eaten, and as for Harvey’s real ale… words cannot suffice.
‘SOME BLOOMSBERRIES WITH YOUR BANOFFI PIE?’
Bloomsberries can visit Charleston, the murals in Berwick Church and the plain but evocative Monks Cottage in Rodmell where Virginia Woolf lived. Firle Beacon was one of her regular walks. THIRSTY WALKERS descending Firle Beacon should head for the Ram Inn (01273 85822), a village local with a walled garden. There are benches against the wall where older villagers sit in the sun with a quiet pint. The ploughman’s comes with home-cooked ham or good cheeses and the puds are true Brit. They sell the hoppy beers from Harveys, brewed in Lewes, and Breaky Bottom which is made a little further along the Downs that you see at the end of the village. This wine’s notes of flint and honey are very much in tune with the landscape.