THE rabbits frolicked play-fully on the lush grass, the sun sank dreamily over the distant horizon in multiple shades of red and the wispy clouds were almost close enough to touch. Below us most of the known world was seemingly stretched out invitingly to explore.

No, this was not the latest Disney animation or even Watership Down, but a meal in the lofty Hilltops Restaurant at the Forest Hills Hotel in Frodsham. Set within a luxury hotel built in 1988, it has one glorious, unforgettable attraction - the view.

Designed in split-level to place as many of the tables as close to the panoramic windows as possible, it is perched right on the summit of Frod-sham Hill. When you eat there you are instantly lord and lady of all you survey.

Let's face it, Wales isn't everyone's cup of tea when it comes to views. When you've seen one hillside dotted with sheep, you've seen them all. No, in Cheshire we can offer a lot more variety.

True, most of what Val and I were gazing at was in Merseyside or Widnes but all human life seemed to be there.

Far to the west the sun was sinking behind the awesome size of Liverpool Cathedral, to the right EasyJets were skimming in and out of John Lennon Airport and below, the huge chemical works at Runcorn was laid out like a vision of the apocalypse.

It was not necessarily romantic or picturesque but boy, was it sensational. Before we even picked up a piece of cutlery we both agreed we would be back in the winter to see what it all looks like when it's lit up. Bonfire Night or midnight on New Year's Eve must be pretty spectacular.

For anyone suffering from agoraphobia or myopia, there was an alternative as, outside the window, more than a dozen rabbits skittered about, grateful no doubt to be avoiding the chef's special. Between them swallows swooped in an idyllic aerial ballet.

As adopted Frodshamites, we should not have been surprised. The top of the hill has been a magnet for many years. Back in the 19th century the site of the Forest Hills Hotel was taken up by a coffee shop. It then grew over the years to become a fairground and fun park, at one time featuring a skating rink and, more famously, a helter skelter which was just as much a landmark as the town's hilltop war memorial.

Post-war, when money was short, a trip to Frodsham Hill was the equivalent of today's package flight to Spain. Entertainment was also provided by a dance hall which in the 1960s and 70s starred some great names including Gerry and The Pacemakers, The Searchers, The Swinging Blue Jeans, Ken Dodd and Lulu and the Luvvers. Back in 1963, The Beatles played there at the start of their incredible success when songs like Please, Please Me and Help were grabbing the attention of the whole world.

More pressing matters concerned us as we averted our gaze from the window to pay some attention to the plates. Head chef David Brinkley has a tough challenge competing with the surroundings but it was quickly evident that he and his staff are well up to it.

My duck and leek spring roll starter was exquisite and delicate, surpassed only, I decided, by Val's tempura battered king prawns which were absolutely delicious. Happily, she was prepared to share.

Perhaps it was the lazily meandering Manchester Ship Canal below which put us both in the mood for fish. Whatever it was, Val opted for a main course of halibut and I went for tuna.

Fish is a speciality of the house and it was quickly evident why. The halibut was as tasty as if it had just come out of cleaned-up Liverpool Bay while the tuna was perfect which, in England, is rare.

Desserts were the one disappointment of the evening, not because of what we had but in the very limited choice available which the waitress had to read out from notes on her pad. The chocolate truffle I chose, however, was superb while Val's verdict on her lemon and coconut tart was also very positive.

Surprisingly, there were few other diners, possibly because people preferred the rival attraction of Italy versus Ukraine in the World Cup on TV. Still, it was their loss.

It was hard to tear ourselves away from the stunning view to go and relax in the hotel lounge with the remainder of the wine and a coffee nicely presented in a cafetière with the hotel's own branded chocolates

Overall, the menu offered excellent choice with a good range of entrées, fish dishes and grills. A sensible touch is a wide selection of salads and pasta price-labelled as 'S' or 'M' allowing diners to choose each as a starter or main course.

The Hilltops Restaurant also has a good quality, comprehensive wine list. Our bottle of house Pinot Grigio was light, crisp and the ideal accompaniment to our fish-dominated choice.

Ambience was also fine with fresh flowers on the table and a sumptuously laid-out dining area. The obvious tip when booking is to ask for a table by the window.

We both agreed that the price was very reasonable and that there is a lot more to recommend the Hilltops Restaurant than just its remarkable position.

At the end of a delightful evening as the last rays of the sun dipped over the Irish Sea far to the west and the rabbits gently sang We'll Keep A Welcome (just kidding - rodents are tone deaf) we headed down the hill vowing to do some sociable climbing there again.


The Hilltops Restaurant, Forest Hills Hotel, Frodsham. Tel. 01928 735255.

*Choice of menu from table d'hote and the chef's daily fish menu to à la carte.
* Starters: Tempura battered king prawns, £5.25; duck and leek spring roll £4.95.
*Main courses: Poached fillet of halibut £10.50; pan-fried tuna supreme £10.50.
* Desserts: lemon and coconut tart £3.95; chocolate truffle £3.95.
* Drinks: House Pinot Grigio £14.50; coffee for one £1.95.
* Total for two: £55.55.
* Best thing: Quality of food and the wonderful views.
* Worst thing: Restricted choice of desserts.
* Would suit: Romantic couples; anyone looking for somewhere a little different.