River Ribble near Cuerdale Hall
Stage 1 was inspired largely because we left the car in Fulwood on Saturday night, after a few too many glasses of wine, so a walk from Penwortham seemed like a good idea to get rid of the (relatively mild) hangover. The thought of trudging along pavements didn't appeal so instead I decided to make our way along a rather more rural route to our destination. Over time, but probably without the influence of alcohol, I'll add to the route and eventually plan to create a relatively dog friendly route circling the City.
1. Middleforth to Walton-le-Dale
The walk from Lower Penwortham to Walton-le-Dale will need no introduction to many. After a quick jaunt down the Old Tram Road we were soon on the riverside path and heading towards the Capitol Centre. Other than the odd cyclist we had the route pretty much to ourselves. I'll leave you to judge whether you let your dog off the lead around hear but provided it's quiet, you keep and eye out for cyclists and the river doesn't prove an attraction to your dog it's pretty safe. We were soon back on lead and at London Road, where we crossed the A6 and, turning right, had a 5 minute spell of roadside walking along Victoria Road and Church Brow.
2. Church Brow to the Tickled Trout
Soon after passing the old church we turned left down the well signed footpath towards Ribble Side Farm. It was of course still on-lead here but we soon passed the muddy farmyards and wandered along fields beside the Ribble for a short way before reaching Cuerdale Hall. The path doesn't follow the riverbank through this section so if, like us, you loose the signposted route you'll have to turn inland for a short way before you pick it up again. Fortunately, the path becomes obvious again once you've passed the Hall and follows the river to the Tickled Trout Hotel. Sheep do graze in these fields all along this stage of the route so you need to keep your dog under control. There are a couple of stiles to navigate but the dog found a gap, avoiding what would otherwise have been an easy lift. The dog enjoyed a quick paddle in the river before we continued on our way.
Paddle at the Tickled Trout
3. Tickled Trout to Red Scar Wood
Reaching the Tickled Trout Hotel we crossed Brockholes Bridge and the river before turning right alongside Brockholes Wood. We didn't enter the wood but carried on past the farm where we picked up the Ribble Way signs leading us towards the Motorway and quarries. The route was obvious here, passing under the Motorway before entering the Lancashire Wildlife Trust development at Brockholes. The path here has been recently constructed and is well fenced off from the adjacent wetlands meaning the dog could walk off-lead. Several viewpoints have been created, looking out over the waters, and it should be a great facility once complete. Although there is plenty of construction work taking place it was virtually deserted today and I enjoyed our preview of what I expect will be a busy place by this time next year. Eventually, the path came to an end a Redscar Wood but once again, our route following the Ribble Way was well signed. Beware though, there is a very high stile. Springers or Labrador sized dogs will probably get underneath fairly easily but if you have a Great Dane you'd better be prepared for some serious lifting!
A sneak preview of Brockholes Wetlands
4. Redscar Wood to Longridge Road
From the stile we took the woodland path leading left and steeply up the hillside. Suddenly, out of nowhere, we were joined by three other Springers leaping madly through the undergrowth. After a quick sniff they disappeared as quickly as they'd arrived and left us to climb to the top of the hill where we emerged in a rather scruffy wide open field next to Pope Lane. Our route continued alongside the top of Redscar Wood to the rear of the crematorium. In the occasional breaks in the tress we caught glimpses of the river far below. Although only a hundred yards or so from Redscar Industrial Estate I was pleasantly surprised with how peaceful and scenic this stage of the route turned out to be. The dog enjoyed off-lead walking throughout. On the down side, there was some evidence that the path had seen some motorbike traffic so we might have struck lucky with our timing.
Leaving Redscar Woods
Once past the crematorium our route veered left, towards the edge of the industrial units, where we joined a muddy track adjacent to the units heading towards Longridge Road. After a hundred yards or so a well marked but incredibly scruffy footpath led us through trees and past more units before emerging rather unceremoniously on to Longridge Road at Redscar. This last stage did at least give a clue that we were on the original Round Preston route, with several old waymarkers still intact.
From here we were left with some road walking to pick up the car but Longridge Road is where we'll pick up the next stage of our route.
The GPS clocked our total distance at just over 9 miles. We probably did about a mile of road walking to end so estimate stage 1 of our route was a good 7 miles. Only about 15 miles to go then!
Click here for a Google map of the area.