A much-loved Tynedale pub has been voted one of the runners-up in a national competition.

The Heart of Northumberland, on Hexham's Market Street, gained recognition as one of the best places to drink in The Observer's Food Awards.

As part of the national competition, two pubs were selected from each region to go through to the final round. The Heart was chosen as a top place to drink in the North, alongside Manchester's Science + Industry.

Owner Alan Phillipson said: "It was quite surprising because we are known for our food!

"The food we serve has such a good reputation, but we also have quite a progressive drinks range.

"We feel we have the best keg beer this side of Newcastle, and we specialise in local cask ales and we probably serve the best pint of Landlord, which is a Timothy Taylor ale which people drive 20 miles plus for!

"In addition to our ales, we do 25 different gins, have a great Northumbrian soft drinks range and we do a range of quality wines."

Mr Phillipson has run pubs in big cities such as Glasgow, Edinburgh and Leeds, but came to the Tyne Valley to buy the Heart three years ago.

He and his team have worked hard to provide a service the people of Tynedale want, and the recognition in The Observer goes some way to proving they are on the right track.

"We are a contemporary update of the great British pub," said Mr Phillipson. "We have all the traditional elements of a pub in an historic building, but it doesn't look like your traditional pub.

"It is going absolutely brilliantly because we have become one of the busiest pubs in Northumberland in the three years since we opened.

"We have such an amazing reputation locally and it's good to get some official and reputable recognition.

"I think we are considered among the top level of Northumberland pubs, like the Feathers Inn in Hedley-on-the-Hill and the Rat Inn, in Anick, for example, and this is a good way to get us on the map."

As well as recognition for its drinks, the Heart's food offering was highlighted recently when head chef Jack Henriksen was a finalist in the North-East Chef of the Year Awards.