FROM the beer garden of the Scott Arms high above Corfe Castle in the Purbeck hills you get to appreciate just why the fortress was built where it was.

The castle may be a ruin now but its position on a hilltop enabled its residents to watch across the valley for potential invaders drawing in from the coast.

It is something I have often pondered gazing out across the carpet of fields to Poole Harbour, through the bottom of a beer glass.

On my latest visit this splendid view was blocked by thick mist. So my mother and I were forced to take refuge inside this lovely old eighteenth century pub. To confirm its quirkiness a sign at the entrance warns that it’s a listed building with many uneven surfaces – children and the disabled, be warned.

With the bottom bar closed off we made our way upstairs.

The room, with a roaring fire, looked cosy but we chose to sit in the adjoining light dining room which is adorned with colourful works by contemporary artist Stephen Bishop.

With few customers, the staff were on us like a shot although very polite and friendly. This lightning response was perhaps my only complaint. I do enjoy minutes between courses but here they were moments as plates were cleared and food delivered swiftly.

The food itself was a treat. Much is made of using local produce – Swanage crab, Wareham trout, Corfe Castle pork belly, Encombe Estate pheasant and ice cream from the farm next door. You get the feeling the pub is very much part of this community, and is proud of the area’s location as a film hotspot (as the photographs on the walls of bodice-ripping productions testify).

Our food was wonderfully presented and delicious. My soup was quite large so it was a bonus they brought two spoons. My linguine was among a handful of different vegetarian dishes on offer. Mum enjoyed her crab dish, which she described as ‘creamy and very crabby’. I thought it was quite expensive but she polished if off and said good crab was worth paying for.

We left full and content and with a promise that we would be back again in the spring when we will be able to drink in the view, as well as the beer.

The Scott Arms, Kingston, near Corfe Castle. Call 01929 480270.