TRENDS in eating out come and go but one which seems to be here to stay is the afternoon tea.

Signs are popping up in establishments everywhere offering this very British institution, so it only seemed right to head off into the Ribble Valley and sample one.

Bashall Barn has become a major success story boasting a thriving and well-stocked farmshop alongside its function suite, restaurant and cafe areas.

It may prove a bit of a trek to get there - go through Whalley and Mitton then follow the signs - but the views on a clear day are worth the effort alone. The large terrace looks back at Pendle Hill in all its splendour.

Slightly off the beaten track it may be, but Bashall Barn is also extremely popular, particularly at weekends. As we move through spring into summer it’s likely you will find the main restaurant area hosting a wedding reception.

But it’s a big place although weekend booking is perhaps advisable.

When we visited, a 60th birthday celebration was in full swing and various families were happily tucking in to tempting looking platefuls.

Bashall Barn offers everything from a coffee and a sticky to full meals but it was afternoon tea we’d made the effort for.

To count as a proper afternoon tea in my book, it has to be served on a triple-decker cake stand - and that’s just what we were presented with.

Initially you always think that you’re going to need to call in to the chippy on the way home as it will never be enough to fill you up. But don’t be fooled, you’ll be left replete and possibly asking for a doggie bag to take the odd item home with you.

The first problem you’ll be faced with is what order to eat everything in - it all looks so tempting.

I’d suggest tackling the small cup of soup first - a very rich carrot and coriander when we visited - as it’s served hot.

Next up was the warm fish goujon. A nice touch was the small dish of homemade tartare sauce for you to dip it in.

Then, a choice of the slice of pork pie or the sandwiches. I went for the pie which was rich in well-seasoned meat and thankfully light on jelly.

You get three triangles of sandwiches, with the crusts cut off - naturally. Cheese and home made chutney, roast ham and smoked salmon with lemon and dill mayo were the three on offer and all freshly made.

So that was the savouries out of the way - time for the sweet selection. My, what a treat. You can’t complain about a mini raspberry trifle, a piece of sticky and very gingery ginger cake, a cube of cheesecake and a freshly based scone complete with little jars of jam and cream for you to pile on to your heart’s content - jam first, of course.

One pile of cutlery and some very sticky fingers later, that was the triple-decker treat polished off.

Priced at £12.50 per head including either tea or coffee, the afternoon tea represents excellent value for money. For another fiver you can add a glass of Champagne for that special occasion which quite a few people seemed to be doing.

You then have to run the gauntlet of even more tempting freshly-made goodies as you pay and make your way out through the farm though the chances are you’re too full to even think of buying some more.

It’s good to know that some traditions are in good hands - long live the afternoon tea.