Tag Archives: Preston Guild Wheel



My camera went into ‘frozen mode’ after a short time on my latest cycle around Preston’s Guild Wheel. Gone for now are the pictures of the Ribble in flood mode, the harmful Giant Hog Weeds and the cautionary notice to dismount on the steep descent to Brockholes. I had no reason to ignore the latter, I’ve been going from one injury to another in the last month, so caution was uppermost. I had parked in the Crematorium grounds after all.

Ospreys have been regular visitors to the nature reserve recently, but obviously not today. They do have a problem with Himalayan Balsam though. It was surprisingly quiet considering the good weather and school holidays. They must be all at Blackpool, not the ospreys just the crowds.

The rural ride from the reserve along the Ribble Flood Plain into town is unfortunately virtually the last of the green fields on the wheel, housing has taken over elsewhere  in the last few years.

My phone camera comes into action on the tree lined boulevard into Avenham Park. Miller Park is looking immaculate, although the former, now empty, Park Hotel overlooking the scene has run into planning and financial problems as have many civic schemes in these cash strapped days. 20230815_12370220230815_124108

Plenty of cash is being spent on flood defences along Broadgate. I manage to squeeze through wheeling my bike on the numerous diversions/obstructions which I should have or could have taken, I persist with the directissimo. It is all green paint for updated and complicated cycleways at the bottom of Fishergate Hill, I survive into Docklands. No steam trains today. And no more photos.


After the car showrooms the newly opened Western Distributor road linking the M55 with the western edge of Preston seems to be working fine, but at the end of the day is only there to link up with all the new housing developments. The traffic just keeps multiplying without any structured environmental planning. Planting a few trees alonside the new road fools nobody. I have never seen a boat on the Ribble Link – more money misplaced?  At least it is more carbon friendly if that makes any difference.

One now enters Lea, Cottam, Fulwood and Broughton or wherever. It is all housing, housing with a regulation 5 m square front garden often enclosed in the most unfriendly hedgehog fencings. At least the Guild Wheel has been preserved as a corridor to the other end.

I stop for a snack and contemplation opposite the war memorial on Garstang Road  and all I can hear are builders bulldozers in the land behind me. Nothing is sacred.

I’m flagging now through those green corridors, surprisingly lots of ups and downs. 21 miles is far enough, but I have guilded the wheel, even though it is becoming a little tarnished.



You may remember my March walk in the woods of Fulwood. That was an exploratory walk discovering many green spaces, several of them managed by the Woodland Trust. My comment at the time was “What must it be like when the bluebells are out and the trees showing much more greenery?” 

Well now was the time to find out. I also wanted to create a more accessible route taking in the best woods and avoiding roads as much as possible and perhaps write a small definitive guide to the chosen route.

I was weary from climbing at Kemple End yesterday, so I only wanted a short walk. The sunny afternoon was ideal for this Fulwood circuit of about 7 K. 

Since my visit in March the trees have certainly greened up and most are in full leaf giving dappled lighting. Oak, Sycamore, Beech, Chestnut, Birch, Ash and Wild and Bird Cherry were all present. P1010357

The bluebells were flowering in profusion, most were English Bluebells, Hyacinthoides non-scripta, as opposed to the Spanish ones, Hyacinthoides hispanica, although some were possibly hybrids. P1010308

Here is what the NT has to say about bluebells – 

It is fairly easy to tell the difference between English and Spanish bluebells, but the hybrids can be trickier as they take characteristics from both

Flower and stem.  The individual bells of the native bluebell are narrow with straight sides and have petals which curl back at the edges. The stem is curved, with most of the bells hanging to one side. The bells of Spanish bluebells are more cone-shaped and their petals tend to flare rather than curl back. The stems are more upright, with bells hanging all round. Native bluebells are usually a deep blue-violet shade, while Spanish ones tend to be paler. Confusingly, both varieties can also come in white and pink.

Pollen colour.  Look at the pollen inside the flower. If it’s creamy-white then the bluebell is probably native (or a hybrid). If the pollen is green or blue, it’s not native.

Scent.  Native bluebells have a strong, sweet scent, which makes the woods smell amazing on a warm day. The Spanish variety has little to no scent.

Leaves.  Native bluebells have relatively narrow leaves, around 1–1.5 cm wide. Spanish and hybrid bluebells tend to have much bigger leaves, around 3 cm wide.

Apart from the bluebells there were many other flowers showing themselves. I still haven’t found a decent identification app that works with my ageing phone.P1010232









Mason’s Wood is a wonderfully secluded valley, Wild Garlic pervading the air throughout.

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I continued on the public footpath alongside Savick Brook to try and find a way back by Sandy Brook avoiding the busy Eastway. All routes were private and hidden behind locked gates.  I tried my best and had to return to the path alongside Preston Golf Club, whose course was looking immaculate. I suppose we forget the importance of green spaes provided by golf courses in cities. Mark Twain famously said “Golf is a good walk spoilt” but now it  looks like “a good ride spoilt”.P1010333P1010338

Crossing Eastway was braved, there is no obvious way without it, and I finished the walk along the delightful Sandy Brook back to Fulwood Row. P1010381P1010383

Lots of green spaces and I think I have my possible guide to them almost complete. I will post it here whenever.


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It’s peaceful on the Preston Guild Wheel today, there is no wind. Very few people out, not even many dog walkers. I cycle slowly round, not having been on the bike for nearly two months. I’m in no rush and have time to see what Spring is bringing to the route. The woods have greened up since my last visit and bird song is everywhere. It is in the woods, Red Scar in particular on the early part of my circuit, that the floral display has changed. The celandines are fading to be replaced by the spreading sea of bluebells. Wild garlic is looking fresh, and its white flowers are opening up. Patches of cowslips and cuckoo flowers light up more open spaces. The green hawthorn has started to flower, it’s probably time I cast a clout, but the fickle weather changes day by day.  P1000958P1000962P1000970P1000976

The notoriously muddy section at the bottom of the hill as you enter Brockholes Reserve has been drained and a decent hardcore surface created. I call in at the first hide to see what’s happening on the water. I’m not carrying binoculars, but I make use of the shop selling binoculars and telescopes. Their equipment is so much better than my antiquated items. Maybe time for an upgrade, but the assistant baffles me with his enthusiastic technical sales talk. At least I checked out the lake with his powerful scope.


On alonside the Ribble, through the parks and then the docks. The long drag alongside Blackpool Road went on forever as I pass the nearly finished junction for the Western Link Road. The Guild Wheel now goes under the bridge carrying this road.  P1000978

My favourite café, The Final Whistle on the University’s playing fields, is surprisingly closed. I have to make do with one of their benches for a sit down with some water and a banana. I find the ‘hilly’ sections through Fulwood a bit of a chore and have a few spells of walking. Just over 21 miles in Spring sunshine. 



A follow-up to my post of last week on Woodland Trust sites in Fulwood.

I had to go into Preston to pick up my camera after its repairs. Wilkinson’s has served me well over the years and many cameras with personal care.. My pocket Lumix Leica had started with a fault  involving the electronic zoom – it wouldn’t. I persisted for a while using the manual setting but eventually returned it to the shop for attention under its two-year warranty. The young shop assistant tried to tell me I had damaged the zoom by dropping the camera, I explained I hadn’t. He wrote about ‘damage’ on the repair form and said he would speak to his manager – he didn’t. Subsequently, I was informed the camera’s zoom mechanism was replaced and ready for picking up at a charge of £167. I phoned to say I had disputed the cause of the failure and expected the warranty to cover the charges, the temporary assistant said he would speak to the manager – he didn’t.

I arrived in the shop clutching my warranty and asked to speak to the manager. He was very understanding and agreed that the repairers had said there was no sign of any physical damage. Of course there was no charge, I thanked him for his fairness. I will no doubt be giving this independent but expanding business, my custom in the future as opposed to the internet. Just don’t deal with the young temporary assistants.

Being keen to try it out and as I was in town I thought I would visit the two Woodland Trust woods in Fulwood omitted last week. They didn’t fit into my circular walk being more stand-alone sites. The Woodland Trust website gave me maps and access points.


“Public access is informal and limited. There is a stile on the southern boundary which is used irregularly as a foot access route to Asda, a network of informal unsurfaced paths run through the site for approx. 500 metres. The woodland is not thought to be well-used except perhaps by a small number of people as a shortcut to the superstore.”

The small size of this site, and the fact that it is surrounded by housing and a superstore limits its value as a wildlife habitat. Unfortunately the woodland does not l ink with any other habitats, and there is no opportunity to extend it. However, it is a mature and stable woodland which provides a refuge for urban wildlife.

Not exactly encouraging. I parked up in the far corner of the superstore car park and found the shortcut mentioned, a muddy informal track connecting to Eastway. What else did I find? Well everywhere along the border of the wood with the car park an unbelievable amount of dumped rubbish. Not just the odd drinks bottle or takeaway box, no everything but the kitchen sink. There was probably a sink in there somewhere. A lot of the mess was Asda packaging hurriedly discarded whilst on the premises, but others must park up here, well away from the public eye, and have a right clear-out. It was disgusting, and I am surprised Asda  are not sufficiently ashamed and embarrassed to do something about it.

My enthusiasm for the oaks, birch, hawthorn and sycamore dwindled – it was so messy at the edges. The woods drop away steeply and would be difficult to access even if there were paths. Best stay away, or at least just sit in the car park listening to the bird song whilst you throw away your rubbish. I notice The  Woodland Trust does’n put their usual signs up here, or more likely they have been burnt.




Eastway gate into Asda Wood.


Deeper in the wood.


A popular wood with local dog-walkers and joggers Clough Copse consists of a wide variety of tree life including oak, ash, sycamore, cherry, beech, elder, hazel and holly. Bluebells, dog’s mercury and red campion can be spotted as well.

Sounds more promising. I’ve never been into these housing estates alongside The Guild Wheel.  A maze of roads, upmarket houses and plenty of green spaces. From one of the roads where I parked I eventually found a path onto the Guild Wheel which I followed downhill towards the Old Tannery on Savick Brook. On the map I had spotted a track heading back up into Clough Copse. This well maintained way alongside a smaller brook is local authority owned. There are bridges and steps leading off into  unseen housing. The deep clough divides and there didn’t seem to be any track up the right-hand branch. The Woodland Trust announce their presence. I followed the pleasant left-hand clough and yes there were dog walkers about.


Out of the estate to the Guild Wheel to start.


Finding a way in off the Guild Wheel.



A small ‘smoke-free’ children’s’ playground appeared on the edge of the housing. I continued upwards with the stream below giving interest. Patches of Wood Anemone, Lesser Celandines and Primroses added colour. Only the Blackthorn was showing any blossom.


All too quickly I popped out the other end onto some unknown road and was able to find my way back to the car. Really this wood is just a narrow strip  offering locals a welcome green way out of their estate. Again there was plenty of bird song, so it is providing a habitat for our wildlife.


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!. ASDA WOOD.     2. CLOUGH COPSE.   Purple, route walked.

Maybe Clough Copse would be worth a revisit when the bluebells are out and the trees leafed up. But really it is only of use to the surrounding estate. Stay well away from Asda Wood.

My curiosity satisfied and the camera tested. Now after the two visits I have in my mind’s eye an idea for a pleasant walking circuit of the best of the Woodland Trust sites in Fulwood. But let’s wait until the woods are farther on after Easter.




David Attenborough has just told me and the rest of you on his latest TV documentary that the UK has the worst woodland density of any European country. That does not surprise me given our government’s rough shod treatment of our environment. They don’t even approve of Attenborough’s climate predictions. Who would you trust our natural treasures to – David  or Sunak, Hunt, Coffey et al.  We are woefully short of natural diversity and though it is small scale  The Woodland Trust charity have something to offer on a local level and potentially a wider scale the more people know of them and their work. But how much more we need to do to re-establish our natural woodlands after years of local destruction for housing, transport, agriculture and sterile forestry plantations.

This was to be an afternoon of exploration which will be of little interest to most of you. Fulwood lies to the north of Preston hard by the M6. A land of suburbia, upmarket houses and expensive cars. And it is spreading fast to link up with Broughton and Cottam. New estates appear by the month and roads struggle to cope with the traffic. Alongside the motorway industrial units and office blocks use up most of the remaining land. So what is a ‘mountain man’ like me doing here? Well for a start mountains are off the agenda until hopefully the knee has improved. Secondly I noticed on a walk on the Preston Guild Wheel last week lots of tempting linear woodland walks. Most of them signed and presumably maintained by The Woodland Trust charity. A fellow blogger Clare highlighted some woods in the area a year ago, and I have to thank her for that. It lit a spark in me, and I am off to discover what has been hidden under my feet or wheels all those years. 

A bit of research on The Woodlands Trust website  showed an interactive map of all their woodlands. I focused in on the Fulwood ones.

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Armed with a sketch map I left Fulwood Row onto the Guild Wheel through Hindley Hill Woods. ( Fernyhalgh Woods  according to the Woodland Trust Map, but let’s not quibble. On the east side of the Motorway alonside Savick Brook they are named Squire Anderton’s Woods. I traversed these on my Haighton walk last week) This is all familiar territory but once I crossed Longsands Lane I diverged from the GW north into Midgery Woods, crossing Savick Brook, and going uphill towards the constant drum of the motorway. The path goes alongside the motorway for 300 metres with expensive looking houses to its other side, they must be glad of the belt of trees to give them some insulation from the noise. One could carry on along here all the way to Moss Leach Woods, but I’d had enough of the noise so took a pleasanter path through trees over the roundabout and re-emerged back onto the GW at Midgery Lane. I followed the Wheel northwards until I came to the entrance to Moss Leach Woods on the right. I had a quick foray in the woods towards the motorway out of interest before continuing.


The Guild Wheel.


Savick Brook.

Heading to the Motorway.

On the map is marked Cromwell’s Mound in a field just off the Guild Wheel – I had never noticed it before. A public footpath crosses the field here just south of the mound which to my surprise was clearly visible, although I need a better photo. ‘Cromwell’s Mound  fieldwork remains in good condition and is a rare example of a monument associated with the Second Civil War of 1648.’  For the full history behind this mound have a read here.  The developers have encroached upon this historic site with the planning departments colluding.

A fuzzy Cromwell’s Mound.

I should have just carried on across the field but instead retraced my steps and followed a narrower path continuing in the Moss Leach woods by the stream. This was very muddy and came out at the same place as the Public Footpath – lesson learnt. I was now on the busy Eastway, again I could have gone straight across, but I wanted to look at the strip of woods heading south from the road just past the roundabout. Walking alongside this road is not pleasant. Thankfully the strip of woodland was signed, and I enjoyed a good stretch.  I probably passed over the moat of the demolished Broughton Tower along there somewhere, another one to come back to. The path narrowed alongside houses, and then the way continued onto Tower Lane, showing cobbles in places near Tower Farm. This made up lane. now between upmarket properties, came to a T-junction. With the lack of knowledge of any other ways I turned left and soon reached Eastway again.  I walked down the grass verge, there being no footway, until I reached the entrance to Mason’s Wood. Looking at the map I could have reached this point  more easily from the Guild Wheel, cutting out the loop to Cromwell’s Mound. but that wasn’t the point today.   

North end of what had been Tower Lane.

Tower Farm.


How much?


Eastway – best avoided.

Mason’s Wood was a gem. a deep wooded valley with the path winding along it. Little bridges lead to paths rising to the housing on the west bank, whilst hidden on the left was Preston Golf Club. This could become a favourite of mine. The wild garlic was just leafing up. 

Entrance to Mason’s Wood.

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At the end a footbridge took me across Savick Brook and onto the edge of the smart looking golf course, complete with its usual warnings and arrows. But all went well until a muddy exit back onto Eastway which I then followed until Fulwood Hall Lane on the right. To escape from the busy road I ducked down here and found a path following Savick Brook upstream. I still had to cross and recross the busy roads again at the roundabout to continue upstream. That bit needs sorting out.

Savick Brook again.


Preston Golf course.



The light was fading, I hadn’t set off until 3pm due to faffing, so I increased my pace along the good path. This linear wood is called Sandybrook, another Woodland Trust site, and is three quarters of a mile long. (Header Photo of Sandybrook) All these hidden woods. It was only in this section, bordering onto the Brookfield estate that I encountered any serious litter. Most of the woods had been clear of rubbish and thankfully poo bags.

Entrance to Sandybrook.

At the end I emerged back onto Fulwood Row, the end of my walk, just as the rain started. Here were present day reminders of the natural habitats we must have lost whilst this area was being and still is being developed, but credit to The Woodland Trust for preserving some of these linear wild life spaces.

Extending Fulwood Row!


This is a fairly mundane write-up, out of necessity, to find, explore and possibly link up the various woods. There is so much green space hiding away from the busy roads in the area, Strangely I feel I have had a good ‘country’ walk today. What must it be like when the bluebells are out and the trees showing much more greenery? Already I can see how to tweak the route to avoid the dreaded Eastway, yet still experiencing the best bits. Today I  walked about six miles, but I think an excellent route of about four miles avoiding roads would be possible. The green lungs of Fulwood. My convoluted route is shown on the map below, but I’m sure there will be more to come of these woodland walks in the heart of the city. (Is Fulwood in the city?)

The Woodland Trust site shows two more woods I didn’t or couldn’t incorporate into today’s walk. Asda Wood and Clough Copse. I will make a separate trip to these, and maybe incorporate a bit of shopping at Asda at the same time. Additionally, their website has some very good information on tree identification and other matters natural. Worth a visit and a donation at https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/






An urban rural walk.

Call me a wimp or whatever, but I’m keeping my walks to lowland lanes at the moment. Good surfaces and a modest distance. I’m rather pleased I didn’t cycle today as to start there was a fresh wind which seemed much stronger than the forecast suggested.

Haighton is a scattered farming community to the east of the M6 between Fulwood,Preston and Grimsargh. Possibly best known for the C17 Haighton Manor, a well respected and longstanding dining establishment.  I have included walks through Haighton in the past  here and here and briefly here.

Coincidentally these other variations were all walked in the early quiet Spring months, as of now.  “For everything there is a season” Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.  A time, add another turn for Haighton. Also, time for a tune, a bit of optimism doesn’t go amiss at present. I remember hearing many other artists covering this song during  the 60s live folk scene in London.

A good reason to repeat parts of those walks today is that Haighton Green Lane was closed to through traffic due to new gas mains being installed. It is normally a busy rat run route in and out of north Preston with speeding motorists, not the safest of pedestrian routes.

I find a small parking space at the bottom end of Cow Hill and stroll down the hill to cross Londonderry Bridge over Savick Brook which winds its way down from Longridge. Ahead are the gates and security cameras of Haighton House, once  the residence of David Moyes when he managed Preston and then Everton. I slip up a narrow bridleway alongside the noisy kennels and climb into the woods. DSC00319

At the top was always a gate securely guarded by a fierce mastiff. The PROW went through the farmyard, but he ensured that one followed the ‘illegal’ diversion around buildings. But today the gate is open with no sign, hopefully, of the dog, but I still take the long route just to be sure. The amount of accumulated waste building materials dumped alongside the rural lane farther on has grown since I was last along.  DSC00321DSC00323

I come out onto Haighton Green Lane at the top. It is indeed closed to traffic but being a Sunday no work is taking place, (no wonder road schemes go on for months – one would think that if a closure was in place the contractors should work at full pace) Despite the narrow route some drivers try to squeeze through only to back up when they meet another vehicle. On the whole though the lane is peace and quiet.

DSC00326 I’m tempted to go off down Fernyhalgh Lane past the old school (where my children started) the church and Ladywell Shrine, a shortcut back to Savick Brook. But no, I need the mileage and the day is fine, so I continue on the road whilst it is virtually traffic free. There are some fine houses along here as well as the original farms. DSC00328

DSC00327Crossing the M6 motorway I stop to watch the southbound lanes coming to a standstill., a well-known black spot. Preston Bypass, as it was known then in 1958, was the first motorway to open in the UK.  Since those days it has been incorporated into the M6 with new junctions and carriageways. I try to avoid driving on busy motorways with their frequent hold-ups and after my frightening experience of breaking down last year on a ‘smart’ section of motorway that has been reinforced.


By now we are now on the edge of the countryside. Housing developments are met, creeping out of Preston along the once country road on both sides. I am no stranger to these as they are also engulfing the Preston Guild Wheel cycle route which I now turn onto. I slip past industrial units, smart new office blocks and the back of an Asda superstore. But it is traffic free and not so bad. Lots of people use these stretches for recreation, strolling, dog walking and cycling. Walking today instead of my usual cycling I notice more connecting footpaths going off in all directions and stretches of linear woodlands inviting investigation, many signed by that admirable charity The Woodland Trust. That gives me an idea for a time researching them and a day of exploration and maybe linking them together. When I think back I seem to member Clare of  Dreams and Adventures at Cosy Cottage  writing about them during lockdown.




The section of the Guild Wheel through Hindley Hill Woods above Savick Brook is always a delight and I turn off onto Fernyhalgh Lane, though I notice more woodland paths on the north side of the Brook I could have used. DSC00342DSC00344

Now back under the motorway, at the bridge I don’t climb to Ladywell  shrine but take the road into the grounds of Haighton House. A lovely stretch through the well-kept estate alongside the river. Then a more wild stretch above the convoluted water, an Ox-Bow Lake is obvious and soon there will be more, even the path has been washed away here. DSC00348



I’m soon back at Cow Hill and a climb up the lane to my car. DSC00358

The temperature had by now slowly nudged into double figures and I felt decidedly overdressed, but I’m not going to complain.  It was still only noon when I arrived back home, so I had time for a short bouldering session up at Craig y.   I was the only one there, I wonder why, after the crowds last Sunday. Compare and contrast,as my art teacher used to say.


This Sunday.


Last Sunday.

Variety is the spice of life.





There was promise of sunshine – well there wasn’t any.

I’d hoped to spot some birds on the lakes in Brockholes Nature reserve, I even took my binoculars – I only saw a few coots and a couple of swans.

Maybe a few arty photographs – my camera had reset itself to the wrong setting, so most were out of focus.

I was intent on improving my fitness – just the opposite as you will see.

What else went wrong – well I didn’t get a puncture, thank God.

At the start of the Guild Wheel, I start at the Crematorium, I seemed to be going well yet the cyclists (amateur at best) seen in my photo kept passing me, and I struggled to keep up their pace. My breathing wasn’t right. After my brief unsuccessful stop off at one of the hides in Brockholes for a while along the flat rural section alongside the Ribble I gained a better rhythm. But on the two little rises into Preston I puffed and panted and just avoided dismounting. It was Half Term and there were families out in the parks. I was still just behind those two as we approached the docks, they stopped for a break and I peddled on. The long drag out alongside Blackpool Road was taken slowly, but I misjudged the turn-off for the steep bit onto the bridge and ended up walking. Under the new bridge for Preston’s Western Distributor road and I found myself flagging. A timely bench was too much of a temptation and I succumbed, maybe some food and a drink might help. The pair whizzed cheerily past.

Off again, Preston North End were on their training ground, but they have recently screened it off, so I could only hear their punishing work-out. I felt I was on my own punishing workout. Cottam came and went, and I knew the hilly section was coming up. My legs were the proverbial lead. I just about managed the slight rise over the railway before entering Broughton, new houses everywhere. I knew of the seat opposite the War Memorial and was glad of another sit down and some emergency chocolate. The inscription says “Rest awhile and think on their sacrifice” I sat and thought for quite a while.

Round the back of Asda I plodded on just wishing the next three miles away. I dismounted at all the little inclines and in fact towards the end after a steep hill I just kept pushing the bike for some distance and relief before cycling the last half mile. I’ve not felt so tired for ages, even after my bath I’m feeling stiff and achy.

Sorry to be so miserable, perhaps I should do a Covid test tomorrow.



  Henry II granted Preston the right to have a Guild Merchant controlling trade in the town. That was back in 1179. Holding the Guild every 20 years probably started in 1542, membership would only change every other generation. Bringing together the town’s merchants, craftsmen and traders led to pageantry, feasting and processions. Six centuries later Preston still celebrates the Guild (though there has been free trade since 1790) every 20 years.

  There is a local saying “once in a Preston Guild” due to the 20 years gap – the equivalent of “once in a blue moon”. We like to be different up here.

  The last Guild was 2012 and to celebrate it Preston and Lancashire County Councils devised this 21mile ‘green route’ circling the city nearly all off-road. It was opened in August 2012, and though not as green as it used to be is a lasting legacy to the city and its Guild celebrations. LCC has devised an auditory commentary by scanning the QR codes attached to the mile markers. I must get round to trying them.

  Known locally simply as The Guild Wheel, GW, it also has a Sustrans cycling route number – 622.

CaptureGuild Wheel


I haven’t been on the Guild Wheel since last September’s aborted ride. Let’s see what today brings.

I get off to walk the steep track down Red Scar into Brockholes Nature Reserve. I’ve had enough mishaps recently, I don’t want to tempt fate, who is on strike today? Maybe the Nurses or the Ambulances. Better safe than sorry or worse.


Without binoculars, it is pointless to stop off at the bird hides, though I do recognise some swans from a distance.


The ride alongside the Ribble is the greenest section of the GW and whilst the sun was shining the river took on a liquid silver appearance.DSC03068

The route brings you right into the heart of the city where the Old Tram Bridge linked Penwortham to Avenham Park. It was built originally by the Lancaster Canal Company in 1802 to link the Leeds Liverpool canal system to the isolated Lancaster Canal using carts to transport the commodities. The arrival of the railways led to the closure of the tramway in 1858. Recent inspections of the bridge have shown it to be on the verge of collapse, and it was closed for good in 2019. There has been a strong local campaign for some sort of restoration, both from a historical view and more importantly as a leisure facility, it being a popular pedestrian crossing of the Ribble in the city. Costings were proving prohibitive but then along comes ‘levelling up’ and Preston has received a £20 million grant from the government. Good news, going hand in hand with Eden Project I mentioned in my last post.


Avenham and Miller Parks are looking splendid. Proud Preston.



It’s 21 miles whichever way you choose to go.


Alongside the GW they are raising the river defences in Broadgate, the work is taking two years and already is causing traffic chaos at that end of the city.



‘Ullo John! Gotta New Motor?

Once I’m past the city of cars I’m on a new piece of tarmac alongside the junction with the Western Distributor Road system, it will soon be open. The GW then goes under the new bridge spanning the Ribble Link Canal.



Western Distributor links, that’s Longridge Fell in the background.



I call in as usual at my favourite café on the GW, the Final Whistle, in the grounds of the university sports fields. Toasted teacake and a coffee £2.95. Whenever I have a toasted tea cake I’m reminded of my sadly departed mate, big Tony, who couldn’t start a day’s climbing without his toasted tea cake and a pot of tea. We had a list of cafés throughout the north-west serving this delicacy. Great times.


A robin is always on hand to help clear up the crumbs.


Nothing much else to report, the housing estates are still proliferating on every space i the Cottam area eating up the green spaces, but what about these catkins in the sunshine – a harbinger of better days to come.




I had an uneventful trip around the Guild Wheel yesterday. I can cycle 20 miles or so without any problem to my knee but can’t walk 4 miles, all to do with weight-bearing. So here I am back at my start, Red Scar, for another muscle strengthening ride. I wouldn’t go anywhere near the motorway system at present, so I’m staying local. The Wheel here takes you along the access road to Preston Crematorium which brings back many sad thoughts of departed friends. I’ve only gone a few hundred yards when ahead of me is a cluster of police cars and ambulances. How can this be on this dead end quiet lane?

A father and daughter were out for a gentle safe ride along the wheel. A stressed inattentive car driver travelling at speed on the wrong side of the road. Result one seriously injured cyclist and one very scared daughter. The dent in the car windscreen said it all. I hope the cyclist is OK.

I turn around and cycle back home.


Was I comatosed by the sweet aroma of the prolific Himalayan Balsam plants that lined the route? I seemed to fly around the first half of the wheel without being aware of what I had passed. Time travel on two wheels.

Before I knew it I was in Avenham Park, encountering and trying to avoid the deafened walkers tuned in to their music and the dogs on ever longer leads. Peace returned through the docks. Here I noticed for the first time a signage for an engineering award bestowed on the Guild Wheel.

I’m not sure when I was last here but the groundwork on the Western Link Road has gone on apace. Roads are already tarmacked and the expansive and no doubt expensive bridge over the canal completed. It will be interesting to see where they route our Guild Wheel.

I call in for a coffee and a rather expensive slice of cake at the Final Whistle in the university sports ground.

The only field left in Cottam has sprouted houses since my last visit. Where have all the flowers gone?

I was getting weary by the time I reached Red Scar.

Twenty-one miles and what do you get?     Another day older and stiff in the neck.

This was In my head as I rode around the Wheel, it’s been there since my childhood, inspired by –

Tennessee Ernie Ford Sixteen Tons (with lyrics) – YouTube


I should be writing of a glorious winter’s day cycling around Preston’s Guild Wheel with calming pictures of ‘Swan Lake’ in Brockholes Nature Reserve. But no I’m lying down for my blood pressure’s sake having endured today’s Prime Minister’s Question Time. Misquoting those statistics and lie after damn lie from Boris Johnson.

Worse for him today he was questioned keenly by Angela Rayner,  who is much sharper and incisive than her Leader.  She pointed out that in October he had said fears of inflation were unfounded, so how did he explain inflation running at 6%?  Flustered, he just lied, “I said no such thing”.  As is the fault of Question Time the speaker, Lindsay Hoyle,  moved on to the next question but Angela came back at him later with a dubious point of order stating that a video on Sky was available with his damning interview. Touché.

In his subsequent statement on the Covid crisis I expected his blaze “riding out the Omicron wave” and “putting the NHS on a War Footing”  – whatever those phrases mean when our hospitals are one by one going under with the pressure of admissions, staff shortages and declaring ‘critical incidents’.  SNP’s Ian Blackford, always entertaining and to the point, twisted in the knife with further questions which ruffled Boris. He has no answer or remedy for these problems, and more worryingly seems unconcerned.

I’m sure this will be highlighted in most of tomorrow’s papers and media, but in the meantime my blood pressure is still critical, and I worry about the state of our fragile Democracy whilst this serial perjurer is Prime Minister.

I, and I hope the public, have had enough of his lies, damn lies and statistics.


It was cold on the hands today.

Somewhere I have a book detailing interesting graves in Lancashire, Who Lies Beneath?  I can’t find it at the moment. But I remember visiting Woodplumpton a couple of years ago when I was taking my late friend with advanced Alzheimer Disease for a ride out and a lunch in the splendid Wheatsheaf Inn. After lunch of fish and chips, her favourite, we crossed the road to have a look at St. Anne’s Church. I always wanted to return to search for a curiosity in the graveyard. On a ride some weeks ago, the road to Woodplumpton was closed due to the substantial work on Preston’s Western Relief road. I intended to make amends today and cycle in from a different direction.

I’d come through Inglewhite, Bilsborrow and Cuddy Hill.  After the motorway and A6 it is all fairly flat with a maze of lanes, many seemingly going nowhere. A sort of no man’s land between the motorway and the Fylde. I crossed the Lancaster Canal a couple of times and passed the Plough At Eaves, a pub we used to visit when working in Preston, but that was years ago. The pub is one of the oldest in Lancashire, dating back to 1625. In former times it was variously known as the Plough at Cuddy Hill, the Cuddy Pub and more unusually the Cheadle Plough Inn. It has recently been refurbished, so I wonder what they have done to the cosy inside.

Once in the straggling village of Woodplumpton, I ignored The Wheatsheaf and headed straight to the Medieval church on the other side of the road. Outside the church’s Lychgate were the ancient stocks and mounting block. I found the squat sandstone church open, it was a Sunday, and was impressed with the stained-glass. Those well known Lancaster architects Austin and Paley were responsible for renovations at the beginning of the C20th.

But my main search was outside in the churchyard for the burial place of an alleged witch, a local 17th-century woman named Meg Shelton, also known as the Singleton Witch or the Fylde Hag.

According to legend, she was feared by the local community and tales grew up of her changing shape and form to steal food and create mischief. She died in 1705, crushed between a barrel and a wall. Apparently it was thought that she miraculously escaped from two graves and was then buried head first in a narrow slot, a boulder placed on top of her to prevent further escape. The disturbance of the first two graves could have been caused by vandalism towards her.

I soon found the boulder in the rows of conventional headstones. It was about a metre across and looked a hefty barrier even for a witch. A little brass plaque identified it and there were remains of some flowers placed alongside. I found it strange that she had been buried in consecrated ground, though there was a rumour that she was a mistress to the local lord, who might have arranged her burial.

She died a century after the infamous Pendle Witches, but her kind were still feared by the community. Did she practice the dark arts, using herbal remedies and so-called spells?  Thus earning herself a reputation and being blamed for calamities in the general run of life by the more suspicious locals. Had she been mentally ill, frightening others and becoming marginalised? Or was she just the area’s criminal?  It would be hoped that people’s illnesses or differences would not be victimised in the same manner four centuries later. Perhaps that bunch of flowers shows some understanding.

Whatever the truth in Woodplumpton, there was certainly a bewitching sunset back in Longridge.


Storm Arwen had passed through, but there was frost on the ground as I set off for a ride around Preston’s Guild Wheel this sunny morning. I wasn’t expecting to stop very often, but I did capture a few pictures.

In Red Scar Woods above Brockholes Nature Reserve, there was still plenty of Autumn colour.

The River Ribble was lower than I had seen it recently, with plenty of muddy banks on show.

The bridge taking the new Western Distributor road over the Ribble Link Canal is progressing fast.

At last, the Whistlestop Café, next to the canal on the University’s sports grounds, was open again, the first time for months when I’ve been passing. So I had to give them some custom and enjoy a quick morning coffee. That was about it really, I was home for an early lunch just as it started snowing.


One advantage of cycling the Preston Guild Wheel on a Saturday is that the little docklands railway is often running. The Ribble Steam Railway runs on a stretch of the lines that come out of a branch from Preston Station. At one time there were extensive lines serving the docks, but now the only commercial use is an infrequent goods train supplying a local Total bitumen plant. I’ve only ever seen the preserved trains on their short stretch of line. Recently was a special occasion as it was the maiden journey of a recently restored Furness Railway 0-4-0 steam engine no 20. This was originally built in 1863! What a sight and sound as it trundled along the track pulling a couple of coaches filled with waving enthusiasts.

I ended up in conversation with a couple from Bolton who often bring their bikes up here to cycle the guild wheel with lunch in the wonderful Boathouse café on Preston Marina, a stone’s throw from the wheel. They also had stopped to watch the train and were trying to take pictures for their grandson. Like myself, they find cycling on off-road trails far more relaxing and safer than our busy roads. We end up comparing trails as one does with fellow enthusiasts, although I have to admit to being an amateur. I do however recommend to them the trails in the Lancaster area, which I’ve been using recently. I give them a link to the bikehike mapping website that I mentioned in my last post. They have family living up in Halton, just off the motorway, so seemed keen to explore a little farther afield. I wave them goodbye, expecting them to quickly overtake me, but I never see them again. Just one of those pleasant encounters.

My most striking conversation was today. I was taking a break on the bench opposite Broughton’s War Memorial, in the now traffic calmed Garstang Road. Next week will be Armistice Day and there will be a service here to remember the fallen. As well as listing the dead from WW1 and WW2 there is a plaque dedicated to a James Towers a local man who was awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery in the first world war. He died peacefully in 1977.

As I said I was taking a break here when a young lady cyclist pulled up for the same reason and we shared the bench. I wasn’t prepared for the story she, perhaps reluctantly, came out with. She was cycling the Guild Wheel for the first time in ages to remember her partner who died of Covid this year. It would have been his birthday today. He had been a fit young man, a runner and a cyclist, but ended up on a ventilator for two months before he finally succumbed. I gave my, probably pathetic sounding, sympathy and complemented her ride on what must be a difficult occasion. The conversation continued, it turned out she is a nurse who has worked throughout the pandemic. She wasn’t allowed to see her loved one in intensive care because of the restrictions, and this must have been heartbreaking for her, as at times she was on the wards in the same hospital. Wow, I admire her bravery.

We talk about the continuing pandemic, it isn’t over yet as you may have noticed, and her present nursing duties. She is far less critical than I at how our government has handled the crisis. She does however state the all too obvious fact, seemingly ignored by our politicians, that the hospitals are at breaking point. This week, three patients on ventilators were airlifted from a NW hospital to Birmingham to try and create room for more patients with life-threatening illnesses. I can’t comprehend the dedication that young women like her show in continuing to serve their patients in these desperate times.

She goes on her way, and I am left to contemplate what life has thrown at her.


I had noticed a sign off the Guild Wheel pointing to Kirkham, so today I set off to investigate. Everything is new around here. Holly Close, Bartle Meadows, Deer View, Waterside. etc. etc. I’m always intrigued by the names the developers come up with to try and create a feel for rural living while at the same time destroying the countryside alluded to.

I decided to park in Broughton to create a circular route using parts of cycle ways 62 and 90 out to Kirkham and back. Setting off on the familiar Guild Wheel I was confident of not getting lost in the maze of Cottam. A fisherman was sitting by the little pool somewhere in the complex, he was chatty and content to be out in the lovely sunny Autumn weather. As I pedalled off I pondered on the thought of retiring from vigorous exercise and taking up the rod. I soon came to the sign pointing to Kirkham. It didn’t lead me down a leafy track but along a new avenue, Cottam Way.

Along the way were a series of ‘sculptures’ which didn’t have any obvious relevance to their surroundings and for which I can find no information. There were two stone cairns, some stone heads and brick arches either side of the road. Anyone any ideas? There was also a cross which was inscribed with the relevant information.

The parish council has this to say about it…

Thomas Harrison Myres (1842-1926) was an English railway architect who designed stations and ancillary buildings, he and his wife had various residences including one at Cottam. Thomas was greatly interested in the restoration of road side crosses and succeeded in restoring sixteen throughout Lancashire. After his death, a fitting monument was erected to him and his wife Catherine at nearby Lea bearing the inscription.

“To the glory of God and in the memory of the pioneer of the restoration of roadside crosses, Thomas Harrison Myres of Lea Lodge and Catherine Mary his wife. The base of this cross originally stood 20yds from this spot and was removed here and dedicated July 28th 1929”.

The parish council also notes…

“ a sad event of 25th March 1952 when a test flight of a Canberra Mark2 was being made between Salmesbury and Warton by 29 year old Thomas Evans a very experienced and highly rated pilot. The aircraft was observed flying fast and low over north Preston when it suddenly went into a steep dive and hit the ground in what was at that time open farmland. The pilot was tragically killed, but no other casualties resulted”.

At the end of Cottam Way I had my first brush with the developments for Preston’s Western Distributor road which is being built to provide a link from the M55 to all the new housing on this side of Preston.

Cycles were allowed down Sidgreaves Lane. The Quaker Bridge carries the lane over the Lancaster Canal, for which the engineer John Rennie was responsible for in the 1790s. As was so often the railway followed close to the canals and the next larger bridge took me over the rails to Blackpool. The new road crosses here, I took the underpass and escaped into Lea a rather nondescript place.

Under the new road.

I cycled alongside the Springfields site still producing nuclear fuels. On the corner was an C18th windmill {now a pub} — a different source of power.

Another windmill was passed on the way into Kirkham, this one converted to living accommodation. Windmills were very common at one time in the windy Fylde. Kirkham has a long history from Roman times and developed as a weaving town from the 1600s using flax and then cotton. Today it is a bustling shopping venue with lots of independent businesses. Lowry painted Church Street on more than one occasion. I found the Queen Victoria’s Jubilee lamp and the fish slabs in the cobbled marketplace.

I wasn’t convinced as to the authenticity of the police phone box. St Michael’s Church looked resplendent in the Autumn sunshine, There was a hidden cycleway out of town, passing a simple art installation reflecting the town’s market status and the flax weaving trade. Back onto the open roads, I made good time through Treales and onto Bartle Hall where my route to Woodplumpton was closed completely by the Western Distributor works. I ended up back in Cottam on the Guild Wheel to Broughton.

Is this the last green space in the area, I hope it has protected status?



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.



   Another trip around the Preston Guild Wheel.

  Over the years I have posted several reports of cycling The Preston Guild Wheel. The last one was Dec. 2020. Now that I’m back in (enforced) cycling mode it was time for a revisit.

  As usual, I park at the Red Scar Industrial Estate and unload my bike thus avoiding the increasingly busy road through Grimsargh. Going anticlockwise, I seem to pass most cyclists coming the other way, all with a cheery hello. There is a new stretch of tarmacked cycleway leading to Durton Lane in amongst new developments, avoiding the traffic on Haighton Lane. From now on it is one new housing development after another, some have been completed since my last visit with others half finished with brave new owners living amongst the mess. Frighteningly, any other available space, green or not, is fenced off ready for the bulldozers. It is all very depressing.


  I enter the mature estates of Cottam  where the cycleway weaves between houses. As usual, I’m not paying attention and come up against a gate I don’t remember, of course I was lost and had to backtrack to pick up the route. Along here I almost had my first ‘road kill. — a squirrel ran as close to my front wheel as possible without being squashed.

The wrong gate.

   On through the University playing fields and out along the Ribble Link Canal. Here are more diversions where the M55 link road is being constructed, it doesn’t seem to have progressed much since my last visit.

  I notice men with big camera lenses alongside the dock railway and with a little luck as I cycle the Ribble Embankment along comes a steam train for some extra excitement.

  Preston’s Parks whizz by and I’m soon leaving the Ribble into Brockholes Nature Reserve, I didn’t stop to visit the ‘getting to know snakes’ encounter advertised for this afternoon. I’m always glad to get out of the saddle for a while for the push up the steep hill of Red Scar back to the crematorium and my car. But today on a whim I went round again, another 21 miles, albeit more slowly, there are more hills than you realise. I have a secret plan and I need to see if I’m getting cycling fit, the answer is not quite yet.


  In my head were the lyrics “round and round and up and down I go again” which I couldn’t place. Once home Google soon unearthed Let’s Twist Again, a big hit for Chubby Checker in 1960.

  This is not to be confused with Twist and Shout which became a Beatles hit. They performed it at The Royal Variety Performance in 1963 when famously John Lennon said “For the people in the cheapest seats clap your hands and the rest of you just rattle your jewellery” much to the amusement of the Queen Mum. But I digress.


Friday.  26th February.   4 miles.    Brockholes.

As I lay in the mud at the bottom of the bank, mopping the blood dripping down my forehead and checking my limbs for breakages, my thoughts drifted to casualty departments in the middle of the Covid crisis. Earlier in the day I’d been chatting to friends who were telling me that senior staff at Preston Hospital have stopped cycling whilst casualty is under pressure, they don’t want any broken bones. For the last week I’ve been looking up at Fairsnape Fell wondering about an ascent and then imagining a helicopter rescue and all the recriminations, so I’ve kept to the lanes for relative safety. Yet here I was lucky to get away with grazing and a blow to my ego. The brambles that had ensnared me were still wrapped around my legs. Being covered from head to foot in mud I drew surprised glances as I shuffled back to my car.

The rest of the gentle stroll in the sunshine had gone well. Brockholes is a nature reserve based on flooded gravel pits easily seen from the M6 coming south at J31. The Preston Guild Wheel cycling route goes through the middle of it so I’ve visited it many times but not in any depth. The only time I’ve called at the café/visitor centre was many years ago with Mel on one of his visits up north. My plan for today was to walk around the boundary of the reserve.

I had parked up near the crematorium in Grimsargh after one of those guilt laden 4 mile drives ‘staying local’.  The guild wheel route soon brought me down that steep bank into the reserve, here I turned left to reach the River Ribble thus avoiding the busy central areas. A good track followed the river all the way to the motorway bridge. Apart from the friends I unexpectedly met there were a couple of fishermen and only the occasional birdwatcher – you can tell them by the size of their telescopes. I wonder if there is some unwritten competition for the largest. I saw two Egrets by the river.

At the motorway I transferred to the gravel track bordering the west side of the lakes and was surprised as to how quickly I became almost immune to the traffic noise. There was one hide along here from where I saw ducks, grebes and swans – must get one of those big scopes, my equipment isn’t big enough. It was shortly afterwards I dived into the mud.

Just before going back up the steep hill I took a few minutes sat on a log, partly to clean my wounds and partly to watch the wild life feeding on crumbs left by a previous passer-by. Tits, a nuthatch and grey squirrels were my final tally for the day.

Think I’ll stay in the garden tomorrow.

Red Scar Woods high above the Ribble.





Friday 29th January.     7.5 miles.           Preston.

I drive a couple of miles to Grimsargh and park close to my last walk to save repeating the same roads. Walking through Cow Hill and down to the cattery, then along by Savick Brook to the private drive of Haighton House is a walk I’m very familiar with. I climb up the bridleway to Ladyewell House and follow Fernyhalgh Lane past St.Mary’s Church and school to Haighton Top.


I was starting to think this was a mistake as It brought back too many memories of bringing my friend with Alzheimer’s  this way to keep her as active as possible. She loved this area and always brightened up on recognising familiar places.

A soggy Cow Hill.

Savick Brook.

Haighton House hidden in the trees.

Memory lane.

Today’s hill – bridleway to Ladyewell.

Ornate grave at St. Mary’s Church.

Simpler memorial.

The old Fernyhalgh School. My children started their education here, it is now a nursery.

I moved on across the motorway and was soon using the route of Preston Guild Wheel as it passes through the industrial estate behind the warehouses. I’m normally on my bike along here, so I had a different perspective today. A lot of the people using it are walking between areas of Preston as part of their daily routine rather than rushing round the whole circuit. 

The lone glove phenomenon.

Coming off the Wheel at the service station next to motorway Junction 31A I was surprised to walk past a farm in the close vicinity. My efforts to come out by a housing estate were thwarted by a deep flood across the path. So I continued along the old railway line, Preston to Longridge, even though it wasn’t a public footpath. It became more and more overgrown and, I only managed to escape by crawling under barbed wire fences at Grimsargh Church.

Little Rough Hay Farm.

The back of Spar’s distribution centre.

No way.

The old railway line.

No problem…



From the bridge I rejoined the railway, now a made up track through Grimsargh to where the station had been. What a shame the ‘powers that be’ couldn’t connect it to the stretch from the motorway.

‘Grimsargh station’

Originally a farm, then a coaching inn. It served rail tickets before the station was completed.

Another successful local walk, although not quite from my front door.


Watch out for the wolf moon.



Monday.  7th December.   21 miles by bike.   Preston.

I throw the bike in the back of the car, wondering when I last rode it, and drive down to Red Scar. There is some parking just off the route of The Guild Wheel, that 21mile circuit of Preston. I’ve written about it many times but have not ridden it this year. This is what I had to say in March 2014…

In 1179, King Henry II granted Preston the right to have a Guild and awarded the town its first royal charter. The Guild was an organisation of traders, craftsmen and merchants, who had a monopoly of trade in the town.  Gatherings for renewing membership were infrequent, but from 1542 Preston Guild took place every 20 years. In 1790 there was freedom of trade in the town, which abolished the need for a Guild.  But people continued to celebrate the Guild, as its festivities had developed into prestigious social occasions, which continues to this day.

The Guild Wheel cycle route has been created as a lasting legacy of  the 2012 Preston Guild. The 21-mile route makes the most of the different landscapes that surround the city, creating a rich and varied environment for people to enjoy on foot and cycle.

After I had the greasy chain back on its awkward sprockets I choose to go around anticlockwise though there are a couple of steep hills whichever way you go. The sun is low and I’m often in the shade making it cold on my hands. Also, the staccato sunlight through gaps in the trees and hedges is disturbing to my vision and brain. New housing developments start before I have gone very far and continue along most of the Northern stretch. Where there were building sites last year suburban living has moved in. Greenfields are disappearing at an alarming rate and I don’t know how some narrow roads will cope with the increased traffic. We will look back with regret at the speed of development and minimal sensible planning just to get those few thousand more houses.

Last week I discovered the pinfold in Great Eccleston and today I stop to take photos of the one on the old A6 in Broughton which people drove past without realising it was there. So much more peaceful now with the bypass, there are some advantages to new road schemes.

My usual café in the University playing fields is closed today, query due to Covid-19 restrictions. Further on past the Ribble Link canal a new  road is being constructed coming off the M55 into north-west Preston. It looks to be a major engineering scheme not due for completion until 2024, watch this space.

The tide is out as I pass through the dockland area with lots of mud showing in the Ribble. On the edge of the docks are the Sea Cadets wooden cabins which originated as the WW2 prisoner of war camp on Moor Park, which I mentioned the other day. It becomes busier with pedestrians as I come into Miller and Avenham parks. Time for a sit down and snack on the promenade near the starting/finishing mileage post. Then it’s alongside the river to the Motorway before entering Brockholes Nature Reserve. People are wandering about with binoculars and  massive lenses but I see very little.

The last pull up that steep hill in the woods, pushing the bike, and I’m through the crematorium and back at the car. Definitely feeling stiff from the unaccustomed cycling exercise.


The map below needs updating soon with all the new development but the route remains basically the same.