Indulge your alfresco appetites

With the warm sunny weather comes the yearning for a get-together with friends over a cold drink and perhaps some food at one of Scotland’s many popular beer gardens and outdoor eating areas.

At the East Neuk of Fife, The Ship Inn is a must-visit, with spectacular uninterrupted views across Elie beach and the Firth of Forth.

It claims to be the world’s only pub to have its own cricket team and a ‘pitch’ on the beach – but The Ship’s beer garden is certainly the best spot for watching the matches, held between May and September.

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For sports enthusiasts and those simply seeking something different on a bright day, few places compete with The Ship’s outdoor area for catching some rays with a chilled glass of wine, real ale or a cocktail.

Up in Inverness, The Castle Tavern on the city’s View Place is aptly named, sitting opposite Inverness Castle in a charming listed building which was constructed in 1700.

Its first-floor restaurant serves hearty pub classics – including fish and chips and burgers, as well as vegetarian options – while the cosy and characterful bar has a rotating local beer selection, monthly malts and a range of refreshing gins.

The Tavern’s dog-friendly terraced beer garden attracts hundreds of visitors each year and offers fantastic views of the River Ness, with the start/end of the Great Glen Way nearby for thirsty walkers.

Those who are aware of the city’s unpredictable weather need not worry, as the garden is prepared with umbrellas and a canopy.

In the south, The Selkirk Arms Hotel in Kirkcudbright, Dumfries and Galloway, is also in a stunning building, which dates back to 1777.

Kirkcudbright is famed for being home to many artists and, in the hotel’s picturesque garden, it is easy for anyone to find inspiration.

The beautifully maintained outdoor feature is lined with tall trees and has a very relaxed atmosphere in which to enjoy a tipple from The Selkirk Arms’ extensive drinks menu, which includes a changing ale selection.

Meanwhile, Scotland’s rich resource of seafood is in season during the summer and, in the west of the country, The Oyster Bar and Restaurant in the historic village of Ellenabeich, near Oban, provides an idyllic setting in which to enjoy the fruits of the sea.

The decked outdoor seating area at the family-run Isle of Seil attraction enjoys panoramic views of several West Coast islands, including Scarba and Jura.

Close to dramatic shores and surrounded by rolling countryside, The Oyster Bar is popular with parched hillwalkers, cyclists and other enthusiasts of the great outdoors.

And after a day spent exploring this stunning part of the country, there is little to beat admiring the breathtaking views from the bar’s alfresco area with a cool drink and some fresh, Tabasco-kissed local oysters in hand.