The tiny West Country village of Ford is easy to miss. The brook that meanders around the old stone cottages is on more maps than is the village itself. But if your directions are good and your eyes are sharp, you'll be able to find the 16th-Century White Hart Inn nestled into the rolling hills at Ford, about 10 miles north of Bath.

Much of the original inn, built in 1553, is now a cozy, low-ceilinged pub with an open-hearth fireplace that stretches across much of one wall to provide the heat needed on damp winter days.

In the eight years since they gave up the rat race and bought the inn, Londoners Bill and Lily Gardner have rebuilt the old coach house and the stables. There are now three overnight rooms above the inn itself, and eight in the old stables, across the lane.

Although the inn's Anglo-French dinner menu offers a limited but sufficient variety, breakfast is testament to the Gardners' belief that it should be the main meal of the day.

After fresh coffee, eggs, bacon, tomatoes, mushrooms and the curious English tradition of bread fried with the bacon, a walk along the narrow lanes to the nearby villages of Slaughterford or Castle Combe, or to the Plantagenet manor house of Sheldon Manor, is refreshing, even in a summer drizzle.

For those wanting to venture farther afield, it's only a short car ride to the old Roman city of Bath, or the stately homes of the Earl of Shelburne or the Marquess of Bath, or along the River Avon to Norton St. Philip for lunch at The George, a 14th-Century pub. A bit farther away (about 25 miles) is the Somerset village of Cheddar, from which the cheese takes its name.

To reach the White Hart, take the M4 motor-way west from London 90 miles to Junction 17. Go four miles south on the A429 to Chippenham, and from there west for five miles on the A420 to Ford.

The White Hart, Ford, near Chippenham, Wiltshire SN14 8RP, England. Telephone Castle Combe 011-44-249-782213. Cost: about $60 per couple, including breakfast. Four-course meal about $15 per person.

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