Tag Archives: Preston Guild Wheel


“Your car will be ready about 4pm, we’ll phone you”

I’m in one of the outlets on the vast ‘motor village’ out by the docks in Preston where one can buy just about any make of vehicle. It was just after 9am in the garage reception area, more like a lawyers office than a garage but the mechanics must be hiding somewhere. Last year I took the opportunity to cycle round the Preston Guild Wheel but I’m limited to easy walking at the moment. The day was perfect, blue skies and winter sun.  I had to make the most of it so I planned on walking a 7 mile stretch of the Guild Wheel, its NW segment. But first a free coffee and a read of the paper – I had a lot of time to fill.

I knew from past experience that I wouldn’t enjoy the first noisy mile alongside the main road but as soon as this was crossed and left behind peace and tranquility returned. One’s mind becomes clearer and the rural calm helps with those nagging problems. The sun always helps.

I found myself on the Ribble Link which gives access at long last from the Lancaster Canal to the rest of the network once across The River Ribble. On a whim I decided to follow it towards the river but after a short distance and a couple of locks the the ‘path’ was too boggy for my trainers. As it is a new structure, 2002, there was no need for a traditional towpath. This link is basically Savick Brook which has been widened and equipped with locks to make it navigable. At a nearby bridge I watched some regular dredging going on and was able to chat about the Link with the Canal Trust workers. I have never seen a boat on this length before and wondered about its usefulness but they assured me 300 boats passed through last year.

Through the UCLAN sports grounds and  alongside housing at Cottam on maturing paths, dog walkers, pram-pushers, runners and cyclists all sharing and happy in the sunshine.

Soon one wanders into new developments appearing everywhere in north Preston like the pox. Their names are fanciful. They never come up with Muddy Meadows, Crowded Copse, Restricted View, Non-environmental Nook, Flooding Fields, Ruined Manor…

Broughton village however has recovered its relative tranquility since the long awaited by-pass has opened. The road is barely recognisable. Where’s the traffic queue? Probably somewhere else but they deserve a bit of peace for awhile.In a slower mode I noticed for the first time a stone ‘pinfold’ [where stray animals were held until collected] by the path and also a war memorial.

I walked on crossing the new road, named in honour of a local man awarded the Victoria Cross in the WW1. I was eager to see what has become of the cycle route along Durton Lane since the road works, again it is a changed world. There is no longer any through traffic but engulfing housing will eventually destroy its character.

A couple of snippets from this area …

The sign says No fly tipping.

Wouldn’t like to learn to swim here,

I let my phone guide me through the residential streets near the hospital and then on familiar ground down Plungington Road to enjoy a late lunch in my favourite south Indian cafe, RK Sweets. Vegetable thali for £5.

Rather than catch a bus just yet I wanted to put more miles into the lovely day so on I walked through the University area and past the international cafes of Friargate. What an opportunity to look at the newly refurbished market hall which though not yet fully running could give some life back into Preston city centre. I don’t come into town very often and I ended up in Wilkinson’s Camera shop spending money on an impulsive purchase of a replacement compact. Nearby was the bus station which is also being refurbished as part of Preston’s improvements.  The crowded bus dropped me a mile short of the garage so in the end I’d walked about 13 miles by the allotted 4pm

“Everything is OK and you’ve passed the MOT”     So all’s well.



The garage where I bought my car from last year lies on The Guild Wheel circuit. When I phoned to arrange the yearly service I was surprised the appointment, they have become very clinical in garages, was on Easter Monday, so rather than waste the day in went the bike. The receptionist, very clinical, was taken aback by my Lycra and helmet and doubted I would be back within the 2 hours the service would take. I set off on the Wheel in an anticlockwise direction and after a couple of miles I was investigating the lock gates from the Ribble into Preston docks when a familiar voice caught my ear and there was one of my sons and his partner cycling the opposite way. They were visiting from Manchester and doing a quick circuit before dining with family. I was invited to join them and soon was retracing my ride past the garage I had left a short while ago. I meant to mention that this garage is part of a multi motor showroom complex – there are cars and salesmen everywhere.

The day was cool and dry, we made good progress around the northern half of the Wheel. I managed to keep up with their youthful pace but was glad of a coffee stop in, say it quietly, Starbucks.That reminded me of a picture I took in Bethlehem a couple of years ago.

Onwards and down through the woods at Redscar where the bluebells were just colouring up. Now the fact it was Easter Monday hit home as all the way through Brockholes the path was thronged with families enjoying the sunshine. Slow progress. The pace quickened on the stretch by the river and after that my companions took a different route up into Preston. From here the crowds thickened again and I realised it was the famousegg rolling day in Avenham Park so it was simpler and safer to dismount and walk with the crowds. There was a great party atmosphere – egg-rollers, fair goers, music and dance entertainment and general family happiness. I tarried to absorb it all.

Even after leaving the park the route through the docks was thronged with people, the steam train was running. I arrived back at the garage after three hours to collect my car, complete with its clinical diagnostic sheet. I complemented the receptionist on their efficiency and enthused how easily I fitted the cycle into the boot.

Everyone seemed happy on this sunny Easter Monday.


Preston was at the forefront of providing Municipal Parks in the 19th century with forward thinking from its Elders, Several of the developments where enhanced by using local unemployed cotton workers  during the Cotton Famine due to the American Civil War in the 1860’s.  In Haslam Park last year I remember noticing a forlorn blaze mark denoting a Preston Seven Parks Walk and I made a mental note for a future winter walk. The forecast was good for Saturday, most of my walking activities are governed by the forecast these days, so Friday night I did some Internet research with little success. The seven parks were mentioned but nowhere was there any detailed route information so out came the 1:25,000. The first thing I noted was that there were nine obvious parks in Preston, although one, Farringdon Park, was in fact a cemetery, so my objective changed and I wanted to also include Fishwick Bottoms, a green area, arguably a tenth.

A clockwise route was devised with hopefully as little street walking as possible taking me to parts of the city I had never explored. Some areas have a bad reputation, rightly or wrongly and I wanted to complete those in the morning rather than potentially in the dusk.

Deepdale Sainsburys was a good parking spot and after a heavy shower I set off at about 10am down the delivery bay of the supermarket – it was going to be one of those walks. Gates took me into Brookfield Linear Park and a path followed a little stream, Eaves Brook, through a narrow green strip in Holme Slack. As a result of being so close to housing the amount of rubbish and burnt out debris was disappointing.

Strange fruit.

Strange fruit.

Familiar roads, Cromwell and Ribbleton, were crossed and a bit of scrambling took me into Grange Park. This was much more extensive and at the far end next to the motorway were remains of formal gardens which were better maintained. The park was developed in the grounds of Ribbleton Hall whose foundations have been restored. From the motorway bridge I could have followed tracks to Brockholes nature reserve and then the Guild Wheel to the central parks but I wanted to visit the next three hereabouts. So turning away from the noisy motorway a stroll down the estate took me to Farringdon Park which is the city’s cemetery. Paths weaved between the gravestones, these paths apparently being laid out as a butterfly only visible from above. Rows and rows of sombre ornate Victorian headstones lined the path,  more arresting was an area given over to children’s graves. These were colourful with mementos of the lost childhoods but very distressing to witness. There are other areas of this park I would like to explore including a Muslim and Jewish burial areas. I emerged onto the road adjacent to Ribbleton Park which is mainly recreational with football pitches, bowls and children play grounds. Crossing over to the Fishwick estate I found a path dropping down to a large open recreational field in Fishwick Bottoms and then skirting the notorious Callon estate following a lane down again to join the Guild Wheel to Walton Bridge. A better way would have been to enter the Fishwick Nature Reserve linking to the same place but I was unaware of its existence, next time.

Fishwick fields - not a drug runner in sight.

Fishwick fields – not a drug runner in sight.

The familiar riverside track led into Avenham Park with its open aspect and popular cafe …

Avenham Park

Avenham Park

then Miller Park, more ornate with terracing, statue, bandstand  and fountain. The large brick building towering over Miller Park was formerly a the Midland Hotel serving Preston railway station and now used as council offices. Both these parks have had a lot of money spent on them in the last few years to bring them back to their former glory and in today’s sunshine were extremely popular.

Miller Park - ignore the ugly council block top left.

Miller Park – ignore the ugly council block top left.

To reach my next objective I continued on The Guild Wheel along the river into Preston docks, now marina, stopping off at the welcome cafe. A short section of road walking and I was in  Ashton Park again a more open space surrounding the old hall. The  playground seemed to have an entertaining variety of equipment for young and old.Crossing the busy Blackpool Road a short street gave access under the railway and Tom Benson Way [more of him later]  into Haslam Park. The pasture land for Haslam Park was the gift of Mary, daughter of John Haslam, a local cotton mill owner, the park opened in 1910. As I entered from the south there were acres of parkland with Tulketh Mill in the background, a reminder of the cotton trade which brought so much prosperity to the city and helped establish the parks I’m visiting. The Savick Brook runs through the park which also has a lake and large recreational spaces. The water for the lake cascades down an artificial grotto from the Lancaster Canal above.

Haslam Park with the iconic Tulketh Cotton Mill in the background.

Haslam Park with the iconic Tulketh Cotton Mill in the background.


The towpath of the canal helped me cross Preston towards my last park. Chatting to a man tending his canalside garden he alerted me to the presence of a Kingfisher which I later luckily saw rapidly disappearing under Blackpool Road. A few back to back streets and I was entering through the prominent gates into Moor Park which has a long and interesting history detailed  here.  [The observatory has recently been upgraded by the university,] Today the sunshine had brought lots of people into the park. I walked around the lake and past Deepdale Stadium, Preston were playing away today, down Tom Finney Way and into Flintoff Way and my car. The latter two along with Tom Benson [see link above] complete Preston’s sporting heroes trio.

This 12 mile circuit of these parks shows to varying degrees how green spaces enhance the city providing recreational facilities for all as well as suitable animal and plant habitats. My only fear is what will be their condition in a few more years of our cash starved council? I am sure they will not be developing this circuit as a Preston Ten Parks Walk.



New Year Miscellany.

Several days have been sunny and cold but windless – perfect for a spot of bouldering at Craig y Longridge. There have been a few more brave souls out on the rock. The crag is owned and managed by the BMC [thankfully for now this acronym has outlasted the suggested change to  Climb Britain] and the climbing fraternity have done us proud, with no antisocial behaviour or littering. However at the parking spot some ‘part time builder’ has found it easier to dump his rubbish in the road than take a trip to the tip.     Happy New Year.

I noticed the above whilst cycling past on a circuit of Longridge Fell roads, much harder than the relatively level Guild Wheel. Thankfully I was alone, I was so out of breath conversation would have been impossible.

Back to the Guild Wheel I was on it again New Years Day, this time walking part of it with a friend who was plotting a short walk in the Fernyhalgh area for his monthly walking group. We found a decent dry circuit with plenty of interest. Passing on route at Ladyewell the old Fernyhalgh School building [now a private day nursery] – my children attended there in the 70s when it was still the village primary, only to be closed against local opposition. There is still evidence of Boys and Girls separate entrances. Nearby is a memorial to local lads lost in WW1, quite an ornate cross for the five.

Ladyewell Nursery. Wikipedia.

Ladyewell Nursery. Wikipedia.

With the same friend a circuit of the Longridge Fell tracks was completed on New Years Eve, we were glad to be in the trees out of the cold wind. The only other people met were dog walkers. A few of the poorer days have been spent at Preston Climbing Wall in a vain attempt to steal some fitness from the season.

Preston Guild Wheel again.

In my last post I mentioned there were a few issues with the ‘Wheel’ but as we were in the Xmas season of goodwill I left them till now. Today has been bright, sunny and freezing with no wind – perfect for another circuit to keep the momentum going. Well wrapped up I cycled from Longridge thus adding an extra ten miles to my clockwise route. Brockholes nature reserve was busy with family parties strolling around and serious telescope wielding birders. There did seem to be a lot of wildlife on the lakes. Onwards again in the parks families were enjoying the good holiday weather. This brings me to the first issue, that of sharing the ‘path’, there are a multitude of users – cyclists, strollers, pram pushers, dog walkers, joggers. On social media there have been unfavourable comments directed at cyclists for their selfish and at times dangerous behaviour. The main issue being speed. I must admit on my visits the majority of cyclists proceed in an orderly manner with due respect to pedestrians. There are only a few head down speedsters. Being old fashioned I have a bell on the bike and use it when approaching walkers as a warning, this seems to work well and we all pass happily. My grumble here is that a significant number of walkers are plugged in to some sound system, don’t hear and tend to stumble into your track becoming a danger to all. Touché.

The Guild Wheel has been a great success as a recreational route since its inauguration in  2012

For walkers and cyclists it is mainly traffic free but recent developments are threatening its viability. There are several new housing developments in the northern section which will, apart from the inevitable loss of open countryside, increase traffic on the presently quiet lanes. Local residents are as much up in arms as the Guild Wheel users. I believe that sections of ‘cycle to school’ lanes are also affected.                                                                                                                      In another area the construction of The Broughton By-pass cuts right across the Wheel and endangers users. I have not seen the proposals for pedestrians and cyclists on its completion.   It is interesting to read correspondence between Guild Wheel campaigners and our political representatives on the County Council. I will leave it to your interpretation as to whom to believe, time will  tell. There is a petition to sign if you have strong views.

Back home warming up in the bath I’ve a warm glow of satisfaction from today’s ride – physical and mental – long may it remain possible.





      The Roman Soldiers on Preston Guild Wheel have dressed for the festive occasion.

The most clicked page on my posts in the last few years has happened to be the Preston Guild Wheel map –

– it seems to be a popular ride.

This is no blow by blow account of today’s festive ride, I’ve done that before here and there.

Better to look at one of the many YouTube videos of a speeded up trip around the circuit, they remind me of the London to Brighton film shown on the BBC as an interlude back in the days, along with the potter’s wheel.

Anyhow to get back to today’s ride, anticlockwise from Red Scar on a sunny but cold afternoon.  I didn’t have time to call in at all the refreshment stops but made a mental note for a future caffeine indulgence. Other beverages are available.                                                                     [These are the establishments directly on the Wheel, there are several more within a  hundred metres for a grand slam circuit.]

Starbucks. Bluebell Way.Jpeg

The Guild Merchant.  Tag Lane.

Ancient Oak.  Cottam.

Final Whistle Cafe. UCLAN Sports Centre.

The Beach Club Coffee Shop.   Preston Marina.

The Continental.  Riverside.

The Pavilion Cafe.  Avenham Park.

Floating Cafe. Brockholes.There are some ongoing issues with the Guild Wheel but I’ll leave them to a later date.


… so a seasons greetings to you all.



THREE-IN-ONE – a fulfilling weekend.

It’s that period of the year again, the leaves are turning and the evenings darkening, and it’s time for the annual autumn visit from my old mate Mel.

[ See previous posts to get an idea of what we get up to. —


https://bowlandclimber.wordpress.com/2013/11/16/a-busy-weekend-a-long-post-of-short-walks-art-and-restaurants/ ]

His wife packs his thermals and sends him up North. This year however we are blessed with warm and calm weather so were able to make the best of his visit.

In brief we ate an Uzbek banquet [haven’t posted about my trip to Uzbekistan yet],  a couple of local restaurant curries, a take away Chinese and some bar snacks.

Uzbeck banquet.

Uzbek banquet.

Thankfully interspersed were three good and variable outdoor days’ exercise.

1. The Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

A long drive over to Wakefield and we arrived at Bretton Hall whose stately grounds act as the backdrop to the YSP,  I’ve been meaning to come here for ages. Hepworth,  Gormley, Goldsworthy,  Moore,  Miro,  Caro, Frink …  they are all here and many many more. A real feast for the senses. We wandered around the grounds in beautiful sunshine like two kids in a sweet shop, new discoveries round every corner.SAM_6069One cannot see everything in one visit and I’ll have to do a separate post on the YSP soon. We were lucky that the spectacular Cummins/Piper ‘Poppy Wave’ installation [from London] was in the park and attracting a lot of visitors.Another stroke of luck was the opening today of several video installations from Bill Viola, these powerful visualisations explore the human condition in a unique way using light and water. The Chapel and the Underground Gallery where they are staged seem to be perfect locations. This show is on until April  – a reason in itself to visit the park. Try this video for an impression of Viola’s work….

2. Fairy Steps Limestone / Dallam Deer Park.

We met up with Conrad [http://conradwalks.blogspot.com/] at Milnthorpe for one of my favourite short walks on a promising morning. The tide was out as we climbed away from the Kent sand banks. I was keen to revisit a fascinating area of water eroded limestone above the large quarry. From there we followed delightful woodland paths to the Fairy Steps – a cleft in the escarpment in which legend says if you don’t touch the sides the ‘fairy’ grants  a wish, fat chance; excuse the pun. Down to the 16th century coaching inn The Wheatsheaf in Beetham for a light bar-snack and a pint of Wainwrights. Dallied in the working 18thC Heron Corn Mill and strolled through the manicured Dallam Tower deer park. A perfect walk in miniature.

3. Walking Preston Guild Wheel and Brockholes Reserve.

Making use of local buses we were able to walk a segment of the Guild Wheel. As we walked down the road to the Crematorium I think Mel had his doubts but we were soon into woodland above the Ribble. Next was the extensive Brockholes Reserve, created from worked out sand pits which has become a local favourite since opening four years ago. We didn’t have time for a full exploration but made use of the ‘floating’ visitor centre for a cup of coffee overlooking the lake and reed-beds. A coot was feeding directly in front of us and proved difficult to photo in half dive. I will have to return here more often this winter to appreciate the wildlife and visit the hides. Up to now we had seen few people but from now on there was a steady stream of cyclists using the path in both directions and enjoying the sunny weather. Level walking alongside the River Ribble and on into the outskirts of Preston. Avenham and Miller Parks have been much improved in recent years and are a credit to the town. Cyclists were flocking to the new pavilion for sustenance. We just kept walking and were soon into the regenerated Docklands area. The Marina cafe served good coffee and we called it a day catching a bus up to town and then one back to our starting point. I’ve ridden the 21miles of the  Guild Wheel several times but now realise how easy it is to walk segments using the radial buses, you certainly see more walking.