At the end of a 192-mile walk there will be few more welcome sights than a traditional village pub with a roaring fire, hearty menu and a pint of real ale.
OK, so the walk from Whitby to Robin Hood’s Bay at five miles each way isn’t quite as strenuous as the Wainwright’s Coast to Coast, but knowing the Bay Hotel is waiting for you certainly does help.
On a grey day in November, we took advantage of it being dry and set out with the dogs for a Sunday morning meander over the old railway line.
Almost two hours later we were set to sample the lunchtime menu.
We were given a welcome as warm as the real fire and the pub was already busy.
Although dogs are made just as welcome as their human counterparts, we opted to sit outside with our uncouth four-legged friends and peruse the food on offer.
It’s at least three years since I was here last and it was also one of those occasions when it’s good to know that sometimes things don’t change.
While the starters and smaller dishes were varied, from homemade soup to mussells steamed in coconut and Thai seasoning to an Indian sampler, the mains were simple but comforting fodder.
Cod or haddock in beer batter; Whitby scampi; steak and potato pie; Yorkshire pudding with Cumberland sausage or beef lasagne, all served up with chips, peas and gravy and priced at £10.95.
Lighter bites including burgers and a salad garnish are more than reasonable at less than a fiver and vegetarian options are well catered for.
Vegetarian lasagne, chilli, butterbean casserole and Quorn meat-free options are staples on the menu.
If you were to go in the evening the menu would be extended to gammon and steak.
We opted for cod and the steak pie (after being sure to check it was “proper” pastry).
Without too long a wait our food arrived.
The pie was just as I had hoped, thick pastry packed with tender meat and potato, with proper chips – reminding me of good old-fashioned home cooking from years gone by.
The batter on the fish was crispy while beneath it were chunky white flakes, a sure sign that the fish is fresh.
Myself and my walking pal both commented on the ideal portion sizes. Instead of plates being piled sky high, as seems to be the norm, this was just the right amount – and more importantly left room for pudding.
They are as traditional as the pub itself, which dates back to pre-1800s.
Sticky toffee pudding, rhubarb crumble, treacle sponge, chocolate sponge and spotted dick served with custard, cream or ice cream for £4.25.
Both of us opted for spotted dick – when it came I would hazard a guess it wasn’t home-made, and might have felt a little short changed there.
But it was suitably stodgy and cinnamony and just the kind of comfort pudding for a winter’s day; all washed down with a glass of red wine for good measure.
All in all, it made for a lovely day out. And, as comforting as the food is the knowledge that the Bay Hotel remains a traditional, unspoiled good old-fashioned local pub in one of the best corners of Yorkshire.
Ratings out of ten: Food 7; menu choice 7; service 8; decor 8; ambience 9; overall 8.