Review: The Sheppey at Godney
- Credit: Archant
Catherine Courtenay braves the wilds of the Somerset Levels to visit a pub that everyone’s talking about
The atmosphere on the Somerset Levels is unique; the flat landscape, crisscrossed with rhynes is beautiful and memorable. You are forced to drive slowly; it’s a rocky ride if you go too fast as undulating lanes sink into the soft peat moorland.
Wildlife rich – the Levels has one of country’s best wetland nature reserves – it’s also scattered with small farms and peat workings. Shanty town in appearance, these are strange places, seemingly untouched by the gentrification of much of Somerset. The Sheppey at Godney is no different. In fact it plays upon the ‘wild west’ atmosphere of its surroundings, a slightly ramshackle set of low, grey buildings, a battered pub sign half hanging off its post. No visible sign of life, it takes some working out where the front door is.
But step inside, adjust to the initial low light levels, and relax. There’s a cheery welcome from behind the bar, which is laden with all manner of drinks and homemade concoctions – revel in the choices of ciders, beers, spirits and the Sheppey’s own alcoholic experiments. Further behind, there’s a gathering of happy diners, all ages merrily eating in the light-filled space of a former skittle alley, or out the back where a large terrace sits right beside the little river.
There are nooks and crannies, both inside and out, where you’ll come across old books, trinkets and Barbie dolls; as you dine your eyes will be flitting everywhere, taking it all in. Menus make the most of the charcoal grill with steak, burgers and fish but also exciting veggie dishes like chargrilled hispi cabbage and dahl. Like the bar staff, the chefs experiment with confidence and style – try the Sheppey’s rose and raspberry liquer with the raspberry parfait, it’s divine.
Recently opened rooms mean you can stay over. They’ve been converted from old outhouses, which is clear from the outside, but what a surprise awaits inside! Artistically furnished, in a contemporary style, this is proper luxury and although the pub isn’t open for breakfast you’ll be provided with a super, continental-style array of croissants, fruit, cheeses, juices and smoothies.
People in the know come from miles to the Sheppey, and no surprise it’s clocking up a list of celeb visitors; but there’s an honest, down to earth appreciation of the generations of peat workers and farmers who’ve drank here, and still do. And it’s what makes the Sheppey special. It may be modern and trendy, but it keeps a genuine sense of place. And, echoing that slightly edgy atmosphere of the surrounding landscape, you feel you’ll never quite know what to expect or what you’ll see; anything could happen – whether that’s a sighting of an otter swimming upstream or Marco Pierrre White popping his head round the kitchen door.
Prices at The Sheppey start from £100 per night – based on two adults sharing. Visit thesheppey.co.uk or call 01458 831594 to book.
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