TRAVELLING east from Swindon, through the slanting evening light of a mid-August evening along the edge of the Berkshire Downs, it starts to feel like a different country.

We are heading for Letcombe Regis, in the Vale of White Horse, a small village in Oxfordshire. Although our destination is only 18 miles away, the villages are changing. The pale, honey-coloured stone of so many of Wiltshire’s villages gives way to warm red brick, with plenty of thatch and timbered walls.

High on our right loom the smooth chalk hills, and then the Uffington White Horse gallops into view. The roads narrow, and finally we reach the village, its quiet, curving streets full of late, syrupy sunshine.

The Greyhound pub is easy to find, right in the heart of the village. We are staying the night, and escorted upstairs through the higgledy-piggledy stairs and corridors to our room. The 18th century inn has eight in total, each named for the geography of the area, such as Lambourn, Uffington and Ridgeway.

We are, lucky us, staying in the Oxford suite – and I can’t help but draw a breath with delight when we step through the door into a quirky, beautiful room framed by ancient timbers, with a sloping roof and a huge bed made up with soft, white linen. A view through a small lounge area beyond the room leads to the bathroom, and a stunning roll top bath, painted in a sumptuous turquoise. In calm, neutral colours of cream and grey, with dark wooden furniture and luxurious accents of velvet and faux fur, it is just perfect.

The Oxford can be used as a family room, sleeping up to four, but husband and I have it to ourselves for one glorious night.

In the information folder, we find several very handy leaflets describing local walks – with clear instructions and an aerial photograph of the root – so with half an hour to spare before dinner, we head outside to see the village and work up an appetite. One of the walks is a short stroll around Letcombe Regis, with its neat cottages, the clear and swift-running Letcombe Brook, and views to the downs escarpment. The parish church of St Andrew stands in the middle of the village, roses clamber over old porches and in the gardens, trees are weighted with apples and plums. It’s like a village from a picture book.

Back for dinner, we settle at a table in the bar area. Smaller dining areas, one a rich red, one teal blue, lead off. The menu offers a tantalising choice. Meat-eating husband chooses a starter of duck ham, local beetroot, heritage potatoes and pickled blackberries (£7) and I have a vegan version of the same (ie no duck ham). I’m intrigued by the prospect of a pickled blackberry, but before the starters arrive we are treated to a board of home-baked bread, meltingly fresh and delicious, and a bottle of eminently drinkable house red.

The starters are delicious – a mix of crunch and softness, and the pickled blackberries are a pleasing burst of sour and sweet.

Our main courses are free range chicken breast with garlic buttermilk puree, roast lettuce, wild mushrooms, and lemon and tarragon Dauphine potato (£16.50), while I have roasted Romano pepper stuffed with wild rice, spinach, rocket puree, roast garlic, pine kernels and herbs (£13.50). It is beautifully presented and tastes as good as it sounds, rich with flavour.

The desserts look promising too. Husband chooses peaches and dream with warm lemon fritters and I have the vegan poached peaches, raspberries, raspberry sorbet, thyme and black pepper honeycomb (both £6.50). Rich yet light, they were the perfect conclusion to a delicious meal. The food at the Greyhound is truly a cut above the rest. The quality of the ingredients, the thought and invention behind the dishes and the classy presentation make this an experience to remember.

The Greyhound is owned by husband and wife Martyn Reed and Catriona Galbraith, who have lived in the area for around 20 years. The pub was closed in 2014, and when they bought it, the grade II listed building was desperately in need of some restoration and d they completely redesigned the interior.

“We wanted it to be the kind of pub we would want to go to, and we would be proud of, with good food and a really warm atmosphere,” Catriona said.

The renovations took a year, and work started in June 2015. Using local professionals, they created the new look pub and the eight bedrooms, all of which are different. Now the Greyhound is thriving, with around a dozen full time staff, as well as some part-timers.

The head chef is New Zealand-born Phil Currie, who joined the Greyhound team after years honing his talents and cooking style in quality country house hotels and inns. He evidently has a real passion for cooking and an inventive take on modern British cooking. His partner Lidia Dhorne runs the front of house and extends a very warm welcome to guests.

The Greyhound is a free house, and serves a wide range of real ales, craft beers and ciders, specially selected from local brewers, and was named Country Pub Of The Year by the CAMRA White Horse Branch last year.

It’s busy with locals wanting good food, but also provides accommodation to families visiting relatives at the retirement village community in the village, as well as the many walkers who hike the length of the Ridgeway, which passes close to the village. Just 40 minutes’ drive away, the Greyhound is also close enough to Swindon for those wanting an extra special lunch or evening dinner too.

We depart the following morning after a luxurious soak in the roll-top bath, a great night’s sleep, and a delicious breakfast. It’s been a treat from start to finish, and we wonder how long it will be till we make a return visit. Really, what are the weekends for?

Lunch for Less off is available Tues-Friday and costs £18 for 2 courses and £22.50 for 3.

For more information and to book, visit