Preston Guild Wheel. October 12th.
I was already halfway around The Guild Wheel today when I saw this sign… I wasn’t sure as to why it was alongside the works for the new Preston link road but it fitted my mood for today. I usually cycle the Guild Wheel anticlockwise for dubious reasons, but today I had decided to reverse it and go clockwise, which is what the majority do.
That led to a debate in my head as to how we choose the direction for a circular walk or in this case cycle ride. Clockwise is the obvious choice as the name suggests, but other factors come into consideration. If a route is chosen from a guide book then we will naturally follow its instructions for ease of navigation, expecting the author to have planned the optimum way.
Planning one’s own route from a map there are choices to be made. Gradients differ depending on the direction, you may favour a slow gradual ascent to a steep short one or vice versa. But then the descent has to be taken into consideration, a climb involving scrambling is usually safer in ascent. Do you tackle the climbing at the start of the day when you are fresh or be faced with it as you tire towards the end? If road walking is part of the route again is this better sooner or later.
Weather plays a part. The wind direction should be taken into account to try and avoid walking into a gale on the high ground, have the wind at your back in those situations. If rain and cloud is forecast it is usually better to be lower down when it is at its worst. Unfortunately our variable weather patterns mean there is no certainty in making the right decision.
It is possible that views, particularly in the mountains, are supposedly superior from one direction than the other, so this may influence your decision. Also, the position of the sun will influence you if photography is important.
This is becoming complicated. No two people will agree on the best option and it is interesting when walking with friends how our choices differ. Compromise is usually needed or the toss of a coin!
Linear walks come up with similar dilemmas. East to west or west to east. North to south or south to north. On long distance walks once you have made your choice if the weather changes bringing wind and rain into your face it’s a case of c’est la vie.
Whatever your choice you always have the chance to repeat the route in the opposite direction giving a totally new perspective. Two for the price of one. Next time you are out on your favourite walk or ride do it the other way round.
As I said that is what I was doing today.
But not only that. I pass a sign every time I cycle round pointing to a Riverside Walk Via Bullnose and today I intended to investigate.
I cycled along a shady path and then came out onto the embankment overlooking the River Ribble. This is in fact the outer wall of the basin leading to the docks, the ‘Bullnose’, separating the dock entrance from the Ribble. The glory days of the dock, once Europe’s largest inland dock, are long gone, they closed for commercial use in 1981 and now used as a marina and leisure facility. I was able to go right to the end of the Bullnose jutting out into the river for views out towards the estuary.
The Bullnose is obviously popular with anglers, judging from the number there today. They fish for eel and flounder, and this angler landed a small flounder whilst I was chatting to him.
Usually there is a bridge over the locks at the end of the promontory but today the lock gates were open so I had to backtrack around the outer basin to the main swing bridge at the dock entrance. I was then back on the guild wheel to complete my clockwise circuit with views back over to the Bullnose.
I like that the sign reinforced your decision to cycle clockwise , not ‘widdershins’! It always surprises me how a walk can look entirely different , with a change of direction!
Is Widdershins a Lancashire word? Never heard it before, would have used it in my post.
I couldn’t work out if that sign on Riversway was for passing motorists or the road workers.
Going back to the sign, is it a quote from Albert Einstein or Henry Ford?
I wrote about “which way round” some time ago and there was following discussion but I can’t find it now. Apart perhaps from looking at minimising the arduous aspect of ascent my decisions are inexplicably subjective. When I have an idle moment I may look at say the last ten circular walks I have done and see what the statistics tell me. I am partly left handed, that is for writing and manipulating, but conventional for batting or golfing, but those occupations have hardly ever come into play. I wonder if left-handedness has any influence on the which way round decision?
Never thought to bring left or right handedness into the equation. What if you are ambidextrous.
Would be interested in your statistics.
When you were doing the same local walk daily during lockdown did you always go the same way?
I profoundly disagree, at least when referring to a round-the-coast walk. Going anti-clockwise is just plain weird. There’s no excuse for it. 🤣
Saying that, I did do one section backwards, because I didn’t fancy cycling into a 50mph wind, preferring to get blown along on my bike, then walk into it.
I remember that bit of Preston, and I liked it (unlike any other parts of Preston). I chatted to an angler at that point too. I loved those eight pylons at the head of the the river – like majestic giants guarding the entrance! When I walked under the cables they were crackling loudly, it was quite a nervous experience!
Glad you found something to enjoy in Preston.
That was the first time I had visited the Bullnose.
You are right, if I was walking around the coast I think I would choose clockwise. But is that because you have been indoctrinated subliminally by previous accounts or even, as Conrad mentions, being right-handed.
You’ve got me thinking now. I like to maintain interest for as long as possible so if there’s a boring section of road I’ll get that out of the way first. Other than that, my choice seems random, though when I’ve become familiar with a walk one way, I like to do it the other way too. It’s amazing how different it feels walking into scenery you would have had your back to before.
Exactly, but are you sure they are random?
Apparently , ‘widdershins’ has Scottish derivation, but as it was believed that witches danced anti-clockwise or against the sun , it became an unlucky direction!
I’ll be filled with indecision next time I head out for a walk!
Well if you are superstitious keep going clockwise.
I have looked at my last thirteen circular walks (there have been quite a few there-and-backs in between) – here are the results.
Waddington Fell. anti
East Burnley anti
Bride Stones clock
Haweswater 1 anti
Haweswater 2 anti
9 out of 13 = 69% anti.
It’s not conclusive on such a small sample but it’s looking as though the antis may have it.
I decided after thirteen that unless one was prepared to take a sample of more than a hundred it is a pretty meaningless exercise.
Being right-handed, would I have done 69% clockwise or was your choice based on more reasoned choices which I would also have agreed?
But be aware of Clare’s comment on witches!
I love that sign by the roadside, I wonder who first said it? This post and the comments have got me thinking now about my own walks. Other than a canal walk where the towpath is inevitably only on one side so I have to do a ‘there-and-back’ I prefer to do circular walks and invariably go anti-clockwise, although depending on location and photo opportunities I have occasionally gone the other way. This needs deeper thought – I can feel a blog post coming on 🙂
Glad I’ve got you thinking.
I looked up that quotation on the sign without definite success, I can’t believe it was from someone in the backroom at Lancs County Council.