THIS week’s destination is undoubtedly one of Pendle’s oldest rural watering holes, an historic country inn dating back to the early eighteenth century.

It’s a splendid looking stone built structure on the outskirts of Blacko village. The sign above its stone stepped entrance, declares : “Good ale tomorrow for nothing”. I’m sure the narrative has raised both intrigue and laughter down the years.

It’s quite a spacious, traditional and old fashioned two-roomed hostelry. Low beamed ceilings, dark oak furniture, open fireplaces, ornate lighting - and plentiful soft upholstered seating for relaxation.

The pub sounded lively on my early evening visit. All the buzz, banter and chatter, being concentrated around the attractive, long, L-shaped bar. A very blokie throng was in residence, I have to say. Nevertheless, a friendly and welcoming group of regulars.

I was met by landlord, Andy Duxbury. He and his wife, Andrea, have been here 18 months. It’s their second stint with owners, Marston’s.

It was Andy’s one night off. He said: “I give myself Tuesday night off. But I’ve been flat out all day! It’s busy running two pubs.” Andy and Andrea are also mine hosts at Blacko’s other pub, the Rising Sun.

There was a quality quartet of cask ales to quaff, from the rotating Marston’s range on my visit. It was a selection dilemma. Ringwood Boondoggle; Banks’s Sunbeam; Jennings Cumberland Ale (all £3.10) and Marston’s Burton Bitter (£3).

The Boondoggle was first up. A glorious, refresher. It boasts a tasty, citrusy clout with subtle malt and grassy flavours also detected. It was in superb condition.

Second slurp was Sunbeam. It had a citric nose and was laden with lemon and grapefruit flavours. Grassy hopped and a lightly spiced finish. A belting beverage - a classic summer ale. - ideally consumed in the extensive beer garden at the rear. Again, in first class condition.

Andy said: “I take great pride in the quality of my beers.”

Andy won Marston’s 2008, ‘Beer Quality Pub of the Year’ award, in his previous tenure.

The Cross Gaits also has a good reputation for traditional, home cooked cuisine. with an extensive menu available from Weds to Sun.

I really enjoyed my visit to this immaculately presented and welcoming rural inn. Although it could have been a painful one, when I nearly fell over a large furry hound sprawled out in front of the bar!

Yes, the Cross Gaits Inn is thoroughly recommended. Just be aware of possibly having to navigate stationary traffic, of the canine variety, in the bar area!