A HISTORIC West Dorset inn is top of the pubs.

The Bottle Inn at Marshwood has been named Pub of the Year by the West Dorset branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA).

It came top of a members' poll by a 'wide margin', said CAMRA.

The West Dorset 2014 Pub of the Year certificate was presented to Bottle Inn licensees Nigel and Chrissy Blake by CAMRA's Rich Gabe at the Dorchester Beer Festival at the weekend.

The pub, which dates from 1585, goes on to the CAMRA Wessex Regional competition, against 11 other pubs nominated by branches in East Dorset, Hampshire, Wiltshire, the Isle of Wight and the Channel Islands. The Wessex winner goes into the national finals.

CAMRA spokesman Michel Hooper-Immins said: “The Bottle Inn is in many ways the perfect English country pub, with a thatched roof and porch, an open fire and a splendid selection of six real ales.

“The judges were particularly impressed by the warmth of the welcome from licensees Chrissy and Nigel Blake, as well as the high standard of their beers, several of which are sourced from less than 30 miles away. Running a pub is never easy and particularly in such an isolated location, but the licensees are attracting more and more local and passing trade with their friendly and relaxed ways.”

Nigel Blake was born in Cornwall, but grew-up in Weymouth. He ran bars in Tenerife for 15 years, meeting Sunderland-born Chrissy on the island ten years ago. The couple decided to return to Dorset and searched for a pub to run.

He said: “Two years ago, we arrived at the closed Bottle Inn to find total decay.

“The porch had fallen in, but the pub had so much charm - it just felt right for us. We thought the Bottle had a lot of potential.”

The pub was reopened in August 2012.

Mr Blake said: “Chrissy and I are delighted - and not a little surprised - to win the West Dorset Pub of the Year, having only been open for 19 months.

“We are becoming well known for our beers, so this accolade will do us a lot of good.”

Famous for the annual nettle-eating competition - the next one is on 7 June - Chrissy is intending to make nettle soup to celebrate the event. Mighty Hop brewery at Lyme Regis will make a special nettle beer for the occasion.