BURWARDSLEY, Nr Tattenhall, CH3 9PF
High on the sandstone ridge known as the Peckforton Hills stands Beeston Castle. Enjoying a similarly lofty position on its west-facing slopes overlooking the Cheshire Plain, is this 300-year-old former farmhouse and barn, where only five families have been licensees since it became an alehouse. Such is its elevation that you can see the Welsh hills and two cathedrals, Liverpool's 23 miles away and, much nearer, Chester's. Particularly familiar with the Pheasant are walkers and hikers on the Sandstone Trail long-distance footpath that links Frodsham on the Mersey with Whitchurch in Shropshire. On a fine day the obvious place to be is in the flower-filled courtyard or on the terrace, but when the weather dictates otherwise grab a space by the big open fire in the wooden-floored, heftily-beamed bar. Here you'll find four real ales, three from the Weetwood Brewery near Tarporley. The kitchen makes extensive use of local produce, while much of the seafood comes from Fleetwood in Lancashire. With the daily-changing restaurant menu offering a wide choice of modern British and European dishes, think about starting with potted Morecombe Bay shrimps; or confit duck leg, rhubarb jam, truffled potato rösti and sauce gribeche. Follow with fillet of lemon sole, rissole potatoes, sauté spinach and shrimp butter sauce; pheasant breast with smoked streaky bacon, butternut squash gratin, chestnut, blackberry jam and sage fritters; or Ridings Reserve beef Wellington, watercress purée, red wine sauce and hand-cut chips. And don't miss the choices on the specials board. Comfortable en suite accommodation is available.