The Maltsters Arms stands in the centre of the picturesque little village of Rotherfield Greys at the southern end of the Chiltern Hills just three miles from Henley.

Before visiting the pub, we took Barnaby my border collie for a stroll around the Grey’s Court estate which is only a mile and a half away. While his behaviour is improving, it’s still best to exhaust him before a pub visit to avoid that outrageous naughtiness I experienced during a visit to The Trout at Tadpole Bridge earlier this year.

Grey’s Court is a picturesque Tudor mansion owned by the National Trust and virtually surrounded by beech woodlands. It featured in an episode of ITV’s Downton Abbey in June, and in the Elephants Can Remember episode of Agatha Christie’s Poirot earlier in the year.

While the house is now closed until the spring, a walk following the paths around the perimeter of the estate that encompasses Pissen Wood is freely available to walkers providing the dog is kept on a lead.

As the autumn colours were particularly beautiful this year, the walk through the estate’s ancient coppiced trees offered a magnificent kaleidoscope of red and gold leaves.

After walking a couple of miles, we were certainly ready for a pint of Brakspear’s best bitter and a hot meal. Had we called on a Tuesday, we would have been able to order a portion of home-cooked steak and kidney pudding, the Maltsters’ winter special which is steamed and prepared the old-fashioned way, but we had called on a Thursday.

There are two separate areas adjoining the bar where you can eat, one featuring the original beams of this 18th-century building. The other, a newer building, is decorated with the landlord’s cricket memorabilia which includes framed collections of cigarette cards and signed cricket bats.

On ordering Barnaby a bowl of tea (£2), Julie, the lovely waitress who took such care in serving us, called everyone over to say ‘Hello’ to a dog who drank tea — he liked that.

Herald Series:

  • One of the pub's specials of the day, pheasant stuffed with black pudding

I ordered local pheasant stuffed with black pudding from the specials board (£10.95) which was served with the most delicious gravy sauce created from red wine. A dish of fresh vegetables accompanied this.

Uncle John enjoyed a lavish portion of chips with his Maltsters’ pancake which arrived filled with chunks of chicken and mushrooms in a rich, creamy sauce (£9.50). His pancake was so large he admitted to being pleased we had taken a walk beforehand.

Gosh, what a delightful day, the walk was magical and the pub really friendly and caring.