THE CROOKED CHIMNEY does indeed have a crooked chimney. It also does a very good pub lunch.

Situated between Wheathampstead and Lemsford on the busy Marford Road (B653), the attractive tumbledown building is somewhat marred by the roaring traffic and a large car park outside, but fields stretch away behind the pub.

One of a chain of Vintage Inns, the hostelry has retained sufficient character not to feel too "packaged". It is a large pub, but the space is split up by enough nooks and crannies for us to feel that we are tucked away in a cosy country inn, with open fire places, oak tables and low ceilings.

We ordered our lunch at the food counter and collected our numbered wooden spoon so the waiter could find us.

There was a decent selection of wine and ales and, although busy, the food arrived quickly and was delicious. Better still, we were able to order desserts without leaving our table; a large plate of profiteroles at £3.50 was naughty but nice.

The food isn't cheap, but it's better than average pub grub with a wide range of dishes, including vegetarian meals, is family friendly and does children's portions.

You can walk it off too, for the pub is on the route of various countryside walks. Whether you're visiting as seasoned walkers or just city folk wanting a bit of greenery, cross the B653 and head over the stile towards the bridge of Brocket Hall, from where you get a beautiful view of the 18th Century house and lake.

Apart from its chimney, the pub's main claim to fame is that Inspector Morse once parked his maroon Jaguar in the car park and had a pint here. I recommend following in his footsteps.