This is great dog walking territory, close to the heart of Preston, taking in a short stretch of footpath along the banks of the River Ribble opposite Avenham Park. The Preston Junction Local Nature Reserve is based on former railway lines, rich in diverse wildlife. It is a fantastic area, showing some of the natural environment of the Ribble at its best. This natural tidal stretch of the Ribble, and the open Countyside feel, would probably be lost forever if the Ribble Barrage and Riverworks project goes ahead. Anyone living in the Preston area should take the time to enjoy this walk and see what could be lost.
We've highlighted part of this route a few times before (Around the Gas Works and A long walk aroud the Gas works)but this walk is based almost exclusively on the area covered by the nature reserve. It's easy walking and provides some good off-lead opportunities when off the main cycle routes.
Our walk started as usual from near Bee Lane on Leyland Road, Preston. We walked down Leyland Road to Skew Bridge, where the road crosses the railway tracks, and took the footpath leading off to the right to the old Vernon Carras factory. Crossing Factory Lane we took the path opposite the farm, leading past the sports changing facilities. Passing through a gate, ignoring the first footpath up the railway embankment, we took the tarmac path leading left up to join the main embankment leading towards Preston. This tends to be relatively quiet and provides a good off-lead stretch.
The embankment reaches the banks of the Ribble, by the old (now closed) railway bridge. Here, turn right, and walk along the well made path along the banks of the Ribble. This stretch is tidal and it's amazing how the walk takes on a different nature dependant on tides and the volume of flood water.
When you reach the old Tram Road bridge leading over to Avenham Park, turn right up the tree lined old Tram Road. Rather than stay on the main tarmac path you can drop down to a narrow path on the left, below the embankment, which provides a better opportunity for off-lead walking, avoid any passing cycles. The lower path isn't recommended for anyone with mobility problems.
The lower path ultimately becomes impassable and a steep walk up the embankment is needed to rejoin the main path, but it's worth it.
The Tram Road ultimately leads back to the factory where we retraced our steps back to Leyland Road.
The circular route takes about an hour. You can extend it by carrying on up the Tram Road and up Wateringpool Lane before cutting back across to Leyland Road near Lostock Hall.
More information on the nature reserve can be found on the Lancashire County Council website
Doggy rating 7/10