This inn on the edge of the Ribble Valley has long had a reputation for good food and drink. Now it’s added a glam 24-bedroom lodge across the road
When I arrive at Fence Gate Lodge, owner Kevin Berkins is busy with a tape measure on the staircase, checking the installation of a bespoke bannister. It is one of the finishing touches to the 24-bedroom addition to the creeper-clad Fence Gate Inn (50 metres away) in Fence, a village outside Burnley on the edge of the foodie Ribble Valley.
Such hands-on management is unusual in people who’ve been in the business for 35 years. Many owners get other people to check the stair rods, but that is not how Berkins rolls. He designed the Lodge himself, and from the Inn’s staggering collection of nearly 1,000 gins (including a 1947 Gilbey’s, the year of Berkins’ birth) to the Lodge’s punched-stone exterior (dimpled stones commonly used to build east Lancashire’s mills), everything bears his fingerprint. Berkins was originally a butcher, and Fence Gate Inn is renowned for its sausages, made at his other pub and deli, the Eagle at Barrow. (These excellent products were the highlight of the lodge’s creditable grilled breakfast.)