Beauty is on our doorstep

As most readers of my weekly ramblings will realise, I like to get out and about as much as possible, subject not to the constraints of time and weather.
I went cycling on the Preston Guild WheelI went cycling on the Preston Guild Wheel
I went cycling on the Preston Guild Wheel

If I fail on this, then I get annoyed that I have “wasted my day”.

This eagerness to do something, anything, means that I create something of a rod for my own back as wifey will enquire: “So, where are we going today?” and I am not expected to disappoint.

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I am happy to cast my net fairly wide across the north of England, the key considerations being departure and travel time, best chance of avoiding poor weather and of course, interesting or beautiful landscapes and places. Inevitably, therefore, our local national parks are prime potential venues.

Last Thursday, however, with the sun beating down I found myself kicking my heels at work waiting for an essential delivery booked for early morning but which only turned up in the early afternoon. It was 1-30pm when I arrived home so time was limited. In a snap decision, I decided we should cycle the Preston Guild Wheel.

This is a circuitous route that tries to take in the best parts of the outskirts of Preston along traffic-free or near traffic-free paths and tracks. It was created as part of the Preston Guild celebrations of 2012 and I think it is pretty good.

The route follows several miles of the north bank of the Ribble, goes past the docks, picks up the Millennium link of the Lancaster canal, snakes around the north of the town to Broughton, before rejoining the Ribble at Brockholes nature reserve near the M6/A59 junction.

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There are some lovely rural sections, some stunning riverside stretches and a few bits that wind through housing estates along off-road trails and a mile or so of heavily traffic-calmed road cycling. Throughout, it was well signed but at two points I needed the comfort of a map to know where I was.

Wifey is not comfortable cycling in traffic but nowhere did she encounter difficulty and her overall opinion was favourable.

The entire route is about 22.5 miles long and we completed it in three hours at an easy pace. Both of us would do it again and, for anyone who does want to give it a go, there are a variety of route maps published on the Internet to accommodate all.

To my annoyance, similar delays meant Sunday seemed to slip away too and so our ambitions for an outing had again to be modest.

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We were, though, able to have a lovely, if breezy, afternoon walk.

We popped over to Sunnyhurst Wood on the west side of Darwen to be met by “Footpath Closed” signs as United Utilities make repairs to a nearby reservoir.

Restrictions are easily overcome at weekends, however, when contractors are not working and we walked over to Ryal Fold next to the Tockholes and Roddlesworth estate for a quick pint before tracing the clear track back to the monument on Darwen moor.

This was built in 1898 as the Darwen Jubilee Tower to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee of 1897 but also to commemorate the wonderful achievement of local people in gaining the right of free access to the open spaces above their town.

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The tower itself is about 85 feet tall and it remains a popular local walking destination, granting as it does wonderful all-round views.

It was my first time but I shall return again and, just like the Preston Guild Wheel, it is an easily accessed day out pretty much on our doorstep.

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