“ Coventry Road Guys Cliff WARWICK CV34 5YD. tel = 01926 492255. „
A special birthday meal out for a lady 'of a certain age' needs some planning and restaurant selection. Had I known it was a Harvesters-type place, we wouldn't probably have gone. However, from the moment I rang, to enquire about disabled access and types of meals likely to be available, the service was excellent. Plus the chance to download a voucher in advance to buy cheaper wine - always welcome. The starters were superb, although the pigeon starter was no more, but a chicken and bacon dish was very tasty, as was the soup of the day and the stilton and pear pie. An aperifit of G+T (Bombay SApphire too) was tasty. The main courses were ribeye steak - cooked to perfection for me as medium rare, plus one of the fish dishes with fennel - kept us all busy and happy. The starters arrived quickly, and the main within 45 minutes of us arriving. Washed down with a £22 bottle of Chilean Rosé costing only £11, the entire meal was super. THe dessert menu looked very appealing, but we were stuffed! Final bill was £90 for 3 people, pre dinner drinks, bottle of wine, starter and main each. Would heartily recommend.
The Saxon Mill is a wonderfully historic pub, but thankfully off the main Warwick tourist route. It is just off the A46 at the Warwick turn off. It sits on the River Avon and has a functioning water wheel, but that is no longer connected to a mill. I’m told there has been a mill on the site since around the ninth century. If you don’t believe me you can always check the Doomsday Book! The bar area is friendly enough and has a pool table, but there is restricted cue room. There are a range of the usual annoying bandits. Bar snacks of the burger or chicken and chips style are available, along with sandwiches and childrens’ options. There is a killer range of deserts. Outside you can sit at picnic tables and watch the ducks, swans and trout going about their business on the river. There is a wooden bridge over the river at the weir point. Across the bridge there are sandstone walls where you can sit and chat, disturbed only by frogs and wonderful dragonflies. If you’re feeling adventurous, and wearing sensible shoes there are a couple of very pleasant and historic walks which will take you across fields by are no more than a mile round trip. The first takes you along the river bank away from the pub, the area floods so watch your footing, and take care to stay on the river side of the fencing if there are bulls in the adjacent field! Waterbirds nest in this area so keep an eye on the ground and make sure dogs and children are on a close lead. As the river bends you will see in front of you the ruins of ‘Guy’s Cliffe’. Sir Guy of Warwick was a hero of Saxon times, reputed to have killed the Dun Cow at Dunchurch. I have no idea why this cow needed killing, but there’s a heck of a lot of ‘Dun Cow’ pubs in Warwickshire. Having killed and no doubt barbequed the cow he went on to do other heroic things before becoming a hermit in cave on this site, much t
o the distress of his wife, Lady Felice of Warwick. She brought him food and clothing until he died, when she threw herself off the cliff to her death. Personally my favourite time to visit this spot is well before opening time on an autumnal morning, when the mist makes the whole area seriously spooky. The building you see now had gone through a lot of changes over the years until 1945 when the family who owned it gave up their attempts to keep it habitable and sold off the contents. It stood in glorious decay until the eighties when a BBC film crew, using it for dramatic effect set off fireworks to simulate lightening strikes and accidentally burnt the house to a crisp. Sit quietly for a while on the bank and there’s a good chance you’ll see kingfishers in the trees scouring the river for snacks. Walking on from there follow the field path back around towards the church at Old Milverton. In the churchyard you’ll find the graves of Guy’s Cliffes’ residents. Rumours of hauntings in the area are rife. From there it’s easy to complete the circle back to the pub for a well earned pint. It can be tough to cross the road opposite the pub, so you may want to drive out, turning right, then taking you first left and parking. From there walk up the hill. There’s not much of a path, and it’s not well marked, but on a good day you’ll find the spot where Piers Gaveston, lover of Edward the Second was beheaded in 1312 by the chums of the Earl of Warwick who was jealous of his influence. It all makes far more sense if you make The Saxon Mill your post Warwick Castle visit pub. History aside the Saxon Mill is a pleasant family pub. By family I mean the whole lot, grannies, uncles, kids and parents. It’s not a Wacky Warehouse type place, but there is a small out door play area with swings, see saws and climbing frames. If you enter through the side door you are heade
d for the upstairs Harvester Restaurant, which like every Harvester Restaurant offers good value, filling if uninspiring meals. Super deals can be had at lunchtime, with two course meals coming in at £4.99, and Early Bird specials know around a third off your total ill if you are seated between 4pm and 6:30pm. No deals are available Sundays, when it gets very busy. The bar area downstairs is rarely used so if you want some peace and quiet this is a good place to hide. Markers on the fireplace give the flood levels through the years, which is interested, but a little scary if it’s raining hard. Overall the Saxon Mill is an under rated and under visited Warwick pub, and would I certainly recommend it if you are visiting, particularly on a fine dry day when you can add a walk to your itinerary.