IT’S a trek to a rural location, for this week's pub review — a destination that has long had an excellent reputation for both its fine cask ales and its home-cooked food.

The White Swan, also known as the ‘Mucky Duck’, is a traditional village pub and is the only watering hole in Lancashire owned by Timothy Taylor .

It was a cold, damp, overcast day, as we entered the pub. However, all inclement weather conditions are forgotten when you witness a roaring fire in warm, relaxed and cosy surroundings.

The pub had changed tenancy since my last visit and the warm, pastel shade decor, gave it a brighter, slightly more contemporary look and feel. There’s one main lounge, with areas set aside for more private socialising. The pub also has a most comfy, homely dining-room, adjacent to its main entrance. Italso boasts an elevated sun terrace at the rear of the building, with nice views over the Pendle countryside.

I was met by Olivia Billam who, along with Louise Marshall, manages this fine hostelry. There were three Timothy Taylor ales to choose from — a trio of Taylor's finest: Landlord, Golden Best and Boltmaker. I plumped for the latter — a beer with malty smooth caramel and fruity hopped flavours. It was a delight — and in exceptional condition.

Olivia informed me that her and Louise also manage the cellar. She said: “We have both been on a cellar management course and take great pride in keeping our beers in excellent condition. The owners and regulars call us the ‘cellar queens’.”

The White Swan has long had a reputation for good food. The head chef is Tom Parker. Tom worked at Northcote Manor for seven years and has rapidly gained an excellent reputation for his daily offerings.

The menu is on a chalkboard, with a selection of tasty meals. The board is changed daily, thus giving you a fine and varied range of home cooked, locally sourced food.

There was a most interesting choice. I went for toad in the hole. It came with venison sausage in a delicious gravy. Crikey, it was food of the highest standard — and all for seven quid.

Mrs B, who was on leave (and checking on what I got up to during the day) had sea bass, minted new potatoes and crushed peas. She was equally impressed and said it was excellent value for ten pounds. It kept her rather quiet for the duration of the meal too.

What also impressed us was Tom's obvious passion for his food. He came out to check if people were enjoying their meals, and was willing to answer any questions about his culinary expertise.

The White Swan was a most enjoyable visit. It offered pleasant, affable staff, fine beverages and mouthwatering food. A most comfy, warm and relaxed environment guaranteed — a gem of a countryside inn.