Fence Gate Lodge, near Burnley, Lancashire: hotel review

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.)

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From Andes to Amazon: trekking through the Bolivian jungle

The real-life hero of adventure film Jungle helped set up an ecolodge in Bolivia’s Madidi national park – a wild destination for trekkers, and a ray of light for a hunter-gatherer community under threat

Branches came crashing down and leaves tumbled around me. Over my head, a howler monkey was putting on a display, standing upright, chest puffed out, pelting me with whatever was at hand. Eventually, realising that this grinning biped wasn’t going anywhere, he gave up, sat astride his lofty branch and went back to eating fruit.

That was just one of many captivating encounters in Madidi national park, a vast swath of pristine wilderness in the Bolivian Amazon. To get there, I’d flown north from La Paz to the sweltering jungle town of Rurrenabaque. Then it was a six-hour journey in a wooden motorboat, chugging gently along the Beni and Tuichi rivers, through sky-high gorges and gallery forest, spotting kingfishers, herons and caiman as I went.

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Five of the UK’s best birdwatching sites

Interested in birdwatching around the UK? As Walthamstow welcomes its new wetlands reserve, we select five other great spots to take flight to for feathery figures

Rathlin Island, the northernmost point of Northern Ireland, is home to the country’s biggest seabird colony. The star is the puffin, which arrives in April to breed and heads back out to sea in late July. Other birds to see at the West Light Seabird Centre, a refurbished lighthouse, include razorbills, guillemots, kittiwakes and fulmars. The Roonivoolin Reserve in the south of the island attracts choughs, lapwings, corncrakes and snipe, while eider ducks laze around the harbour.
Admission free, return ferry fare from Ballycastle is £12 adult, £6 child and £32 family, rathlincommunity.org

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Wild in Walthamstow: Europe’s biggest urban wetlands opens

Few locals know about Walthamstow Wetlands in north London, which opens on Friday. But now they, and nature lovers everywhere, can enjoy this amazing bird reserve for free

We’re strolling along Songbird Walk, beneath a row of waterside poplars very like ones Monet painted in Normandy. The October sky is grey but the footpath is lined with colourful wildflowers: yellow gorse, purple knapweed, white campion. With a liquid twittering, a flock of goldfinches swoop overhead, then a clear, penetrating song bursts from the bushes to one side. “Ooh, a Cetti’s warbler,” says wetlands director Veronica Chrisp.

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Take the kids to … Woodlands Family Theme Park, Totnes, Devon

Play zones and rides – outdoors and in – make this woodland-set Devon attraction a family treat, plus there’s plenty of half-term Halloween activities on the horizon, too

Set in woods (as the name suggests) in the south-west Devon countryside, this is the largest family theme park in the county. The multiple zones range from a petting zoo-farm and toddler village, to Ninja and Action zones, drop slides and faster rides for bigger kids (and adults!), not forgetting the watercoasters.

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10 of the best attractions in Emilia-Romagna: readers’ travel tips

Fast cars, slow food, hilltop castles and open-air art galleries … Our readers pick their highlights of Emilia-Romagna – classic Italy without the crowds

On a hilltop between Bologna and Imola is Dozza, a handsome village of classic medieval appearance, with an unexpected twist. The entire village is an open-air gallery with around 100 artworks displayed wherever space allows. Murals adorn walls, doors and archways, showcasing a variety of styles by many different artists. Guided tours must be pre-booked but it is always open and accessible to all. Every two years, notable artists are invited to contribute to the collection, keeping it at the cutting edge of modern art. And in the enoteca regionale, more than 800 wines from Emilia-Romagna are available in the beautiful vaulted cellar of the fort. A fine day out.
marthah

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Send us a tip on wildlife trips worldwide – and win a £200 hotel voucher

Tell us about your wildlife experiences worldwide, from deep seas to high mountains, deserts to forest

Have you thrilled to the sight of orang-utans or rare red pandas, or snorkelled with humpback whales? We’d like to hear about amazing wildlife encounters around the world, the more unusual the better, including how you got there and who runs the trips.

Send us your tips via GuardianWitness, with as much detail as you can (including website and prices etc, if possible) in around 100 words.

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