A short ramble & seafood lunch at The Crab Shed in Sleepy Steephill Cove.
Want to feel the wind rustling through your hair and leave the hustle and bustle of the 21st Century behind? Put on your Timberlands and walk the coastal path from Ventnor to Steephill Cove. Expect soaring views across The English Channel, and plenty of twists and turns as the path cleverly negotiates the crumbly chalky cliffs. Up and down you will go, past emerald hillocks, swathes of wild flowers and a curious patch of Gunnera Manicata amid a tangle of decadent, miniature pink roses by a stream, as if marooned from some long lost, grand, elegant garden tumbling to the sea. After carefully negotiating wooden steps, the trail levels to a gentle, expansive vista, with a white clapperboard tower enticing you on to the prettiest cove imaginable.
Steephill is just as it should be with its ancient thatched cottage, a few artfully scattered, canopied deckchairs, well-behaved children larking in the water and the sense that this is how it has been for generations. Then comes the delightful prospect of a perfect place to linger a while for a delicious, al fresco seafood lunch, so fresh, the fish literally came out of the sea hours before your arrival.
The Crab Shed resembles a rustic Greek Taverna, and is owned and run by the prettiest fishwife on the South Coast – Mandy Wheeler and her fisherman husband Jim. Simplicity, sustainability and as local as it gets is their mantra. Every day from spring to the end of summer, Jim ventures out in his boat and catches lobster, crab and mackerel. As for food miles? – That would be about fifteen foot six from boat to your table. Mandy and her helpers are up very early to transform these prized watery jewels of the deep into glistening, interesting salads with herbs and leaves grown on their lofty, clifftop garden. You might also like to try the celebrated mackerel ciabattas or crab pasties that fly out of the busy serving hatch on high summer days.
Lunch favourite – Pan-fried mackerel with assorted leaves and herbs and not a supermarket salad in sight! Hooray. – New this season. The Crab Shed now has a drinks license and has some well chosen wines by the glass and bottle to compliment shellfish including a light, aromatic Viognier.
Wheeler’s Crab Shed 01983 852177; Open from 11 -3.30pm for lunch from April – November.