AS the line of muddy boots at its entrance suggests, The White Horse offers welcome respite for travel-weary ramblers.

The pub is located little more than a mile from the chalk landmark with which it shares a name, etched into the hillside just around the corner.

It is a crisp autumn Sunday, and the late afternoon sun has tinted the pretty village with a peach glow.

Ducking under black beams covered in Christmas lights, we make our way past a crackling log fire to the bar.

Despite it being busy, we are immediately noticed and shown to our reserved table, drinks in hand - tomato juice for me (£1.90) and a pint of lager for Tom (£3.90).

We booked the last-remaining slot for lunch but managed to bag seats in a spacious window bay, looking out to the front garden.

The pub was apparently built in the 1500s and has retained its Elizabethan charm, featuring timber framework and damask-style furnishings.

Menus change regularly and today list seven starters and seven mains, plus three sharing platters.

Tom orders the roast beef dinner (£14.95) while I opt for the wild halibut (£19.50), which is the most expensive of the selection.

We are given complimentary bread as we wait - four small slices of delicious poppy seed loaf, with a rich dipping oil and balsamic vinegar.

Our mains soon arrive and mine prompts an "Oooo" of approval from us both.

It is neatly presented on a glass blue plate, as if the fish is still bobbing at sea.

The halibut itself is a tad overcooked but perfectly seasoned, the subtle fish flavour complimented by a tangy tomato and caper salsa.

It comes with potatoes and a salad of spinach and crunchy samphire, drizzled with melted butter.

On first impressions I greedily thought the portion was a bit small, but it is surprisingly filling.

Neither of us leaves a single bite, which sadly leaves no room for pudding.

If you are searching for a cosy escape from the cold, with great food and friendly service, look no further.

The White Horse in Woolstone, near Faringdon, 01367 820726.