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A crab or lobster lunch in Steephill Cove, the prettiest hideaway in England

June 1, 2011 in Eat Local & Organic
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Steephill Cove © Alexander Crum Ewing

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.

Wheelers Steephill Cove

The Wheelers Steephill Cove.

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.

Wheeler's Crab Shed Mackerel  © Alexander Crum Ewing

Wheeler's Crab Shed Mackerel © Alexander Crum Ewing

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.

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about the author

Alison Jane Reid

Alison Jane Reid - Journalist, Editor & Emerald Princess of Slow, Sustainable Luxury Living - 18 year track record interviewing real icons for: The Times, The Lady, You, The Mirror and Country Life. Now leading her alluring fairtrade, emerald revolution - Don’t Miss Out - Have you joined The Ethical Hedonist set?



3 responses to “A crab or lobster lunch in Steephill Cove, the prettiest hideaway in England”

  1. Helen clifford says:

    Steephill cove is one of the island’s best kept secrets. When I used to
    go to yoga and we’d meditate at the end, I would transport
    myself to just outside ventnor by the botanical gardens.

    I’ve just booked myself in at wheelers when we’re on holiday on the
    big w in July/august. Being an honorary islander, we are seriously
    thinking of moving down here. Any advice?!

  2. Hi Helen,

    You have mentioned all my favourite places! I love Steephill and the Botanic Gardens, and go there as a writer often to recharge and find inspiration in the beauty of it all. If you are seriously thinking of moving to the island, my advice would be to ask yourself can you make a living on a holiday island? Secondly, would your love affair where the island as a visitor last 365 days a year? If the answer is yes to both questions, then go for it! AJ

  3. Simon says:

    The tide ebbs and flows – yet time seems to stand still in these wonderful island coves. Castlehaven is another treasure – fisherman’s ropes scarring the wood after years of use, rugged romantic coastline and that vast expanse of restless sea.

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