Mark Briggs has been a real ale connoisseur for over 35 years. A self-professed ‘beer geek’, Mark visits East Lancashire’s pubs for his weekly column. Read of Mark’s straight talking views on ale at his website or follow him on Twitter @realaleupnorth

For this week's pub review, I make a return to Clitheroe — and I have to admit that it was influenced by the glorious weather of the day, as I took a most scenic journey from Nelson bus station, travelling through the villages of Pendle and the Ribble Valley.

The Swan and Royal, a former coaching house, was the chosen destination. A local hostelry dating back to the 1830s, it survived a serious fire in September 2009 and thankfully re-opened in February 2011 after an £800,000 refurbishment.

As I ascended the seven stone steps and passed through the decorative, frosted glazed, double-doors, I realised that the pub has retained lots of its original character.

It’s a very spacious, open-plan establishment with an attractive, long, curved wood-panelled bar — made more impressive by the brass footrail running the length of it.

There had obviously been enclosed rooms in the past, as it has four open fireplaces. One is enormous, with a stone flagged hearth. A vertically challenged chappy like me could walk into it, without dipping their head — well, almost.

Two of the fireplaces are situated in the roomy dining area adjacent to the bar. It’s an area that boasts some fine old-fashioned tables and chairs — including a Victorian, high-backed settle (bench). Pictures of old Clitheroe adorn the walls in this area, as they do in the rest of the pub.

However, be aware of the low beamed entrance to this area. Even a titch like me has to take care. It has a sign that says ‘duck or grouse’, as well as the standard 'Please Mind Your Head'.

There were five hand pumps on the bar, including Jennings Bitter priced at £2.80 and Banks Bitter at £2.90. However, I went for the Marston’s Pedigree, a tad pricey at £3.05 but expertly pulled by Adam — and in good condition. He was a friendly and talkative young chap who interacted very well with the customers. It was pleasing to see.

The pub is an ideal place to have a quiet afternoon pint, or indeed a meal from their extensive menu. There were ‘Sizzling Specials’ on a chalkboard, with a choice of chicken, sirloin, pork and peppered rib-eye steaks. The pudding menu looked tempting too.

I found the environment most warm and relaxing. Sounds of the Seventies were playing in the background and added to the pleasant atmosphere.

A enjoyable jaunt to this fine Ribble Valley watering hole. One of quite a few, in this likeable market town.