WE were surprised to discover it only took 17 minutes to drive along the A40 from Witney to the picturesque Cotswold village of Bibury, famed for its trout farm and the much-photographed weavers cottages, in Arlington Row.

Bibury is considered one of the most beautiful villages in England, and as a consequence attracts countless day-trippers, including tourists from Japan. Indeed, one of the first things I noticed on entering The Swan Hotel were the direction signs written in both English and Japanese.

This enchanting, ivy clad, 17th-century coaching inn stands in the centre of the village and close to the trout farm, which is why I simply couldn't resist ordering a whole Bibury trout for lunch.

We ate in the spacious bar area, where a wood fire had been lit as it was quite a chilly day.

Dog was allowed in this area too, despite the fact it was furnished quite lavishly, with comfortable green leather chairs and Scotch plaid, which covered several walls. A black grand piano stands in the reception area, and, as my friend Liz remarked, the toilets have a wow factor.

We were dressed for dog-walking, as many of the guests were, which was accepted without a qualm by the staff. Outside the door to the bar, we were amused to spot a little line of muddy walking shoes that guests had removed prior to entering from the little courtyard. One visitor that made several attempts to get through this door, to no avail however, was a lone duck, who persisted in her attempts to enter, until a member of staff finally picked her up and returned her to the stream across the road, where the rest of the ducks congregate. That incident kept us all amused for some time.

Hook Norton Best Bitter was the beer on offer. Liz wondered if it would go with fish, but it did - it's amazing how versatile real ale can be.

We made our lunch selection from the Cafe Swan menu, which offers a great selection of snacks and hot meals. These include three different platters to share, which are all served with warm naan bread, and priced from £12.50 for the vegetarian option, and £14.95 for the meat and fish options.

There are five ciabattas and wraps listed, priced from £6.75, and a children's menu, offering fish fingers, chicken goujons, burgers, or Gloucester Old Spot sausages, at £5.95.

Main dishes include: home-made salmon fritters with sweet chilli sauce (£5.95 for the starter, £10.95 for the main course), mussels in spicy Provencal sauce (£6.95/£11.50) and smoked paprika and Mediterranean vegetable risotto, at £10.95.

Liz chose the fish-and-chips listed on the special's board (£11.50), which she enjoyed immensely, while I chomped my way through the succulent pink flesh of a gigantic Bibury trout (£11.95), pictured, which was cooked to perfection. It was so good that before making our return trip we popped into the trout farm and purchased some to take home.

The service at the Swan was professional, but friendly. When staff realised they had made a mistake with our coffee order, the cost of a cappuccino and double espresso was immediately removed from our bill.

On leaving the hotel, we walked to Arlington Row, and having joined the tourists in a spot of photography, made our way up the small road to the right, leading to a public footpath. At this point, the walk really begins to get interesting, because as you progress, the footpath options are many. At one point, we spotted a sign which offered walkers five different footpath options, and a delightful little sign on a gate stating a dog-flap had been built into the gate for canines that couldn't make the stile, with a request to close it after use. We walked for about two miles. It was easy walking, and the views were simply glorious.