Walks: Preston

Walk - Preston.
Walk - Preston.

The municipal park – the great bequest of the Victorians – yet few people go to another town or city with the main purpose to walk in its park. In Preston there is a 13-mile circuit linking its seven main parks. This walk takes in two: Avenham Park and Miller Park, which lie side by side.

Start: Avenham Lane entrance, Avenham Park. PR1 8JT GR SD538289

Distance: 2.5 miles, 4km

Time: 1 – 2 hours

Summary: Easy, Suitable for push chairs, wheelchairs and walkers who prefer not to do stiles.

Map: OS Explorer 286 Blackpool & Preston.

From the main entrance descend on the main drive branching right just after the chalet on a broad walkway. To the right the war memorial to the Boer War; to the left the Japanese Gardens.

Pass beneath the old East Lancashire Railway Line to enter Miller Park. Laid out in a more formal style than its neighbour the walkway with its balustrade acts like a gallery over the features of thepark – fountain, flowerbeds and bandstand.

Pass the statute of the Earl of Derby and keep aheaduntil just before the embankment of the West Coast railway line. Here bear left on a path takingyou through a grotto like archway and descends to the riverside beneath the imposing viaduct.

Turn left and follow the riverside walk back beneath the viaduct into Avenham Park.

Turn immediately left and then climb the stairs to the top of the embankment. (Wheels there is rampfurther on).

Cross the river passing into the borough of South Ribble and Preston Junction localnature reserve. Keep on the broad path for 500yds and then follow it left as is drops to a track.

Cross the track to regain the top of the embankment. Here is a particularly good viewing pointboth for Preston to the north and the playing fields of Cardinal Newman College to the south.

Keep ahead to where the path meets the Old Tram Road.

The route now returns to Preston along a magnificent avenue of trees.

This was the route of a tramway that once served to connect the Leeds­ Liverpool Canal with Preston. Now it is a popular amenity for walkers, runners and cyclists.

Not until you are close to the river do you break out intothe open to cross the Old Tram Bridge.

On the far side keep ahead to climb through barriers to reach a broad open space in front of the Belvedere and attractive stone building.

Here it is worth a short diversion to the right first to admire Avenham House the Italianate Victorian houseoverlooking the park and then look at the Sebastopol cannons – trophies from the Crimea War.

Near them is a viewpoint over the River Ribble which is one of Preston’s finest. From the Belvedere keep ahead on a upper path with the main bowl of the park down to the left. This will return you to the entrance.

Points of interest: The memorial to the South African War the Earl of Derby and Preston Junction Local Nature Reserve.

Where to eat and drink.The Pavilion Café See www.avenhampark.org, telephone: 01772 907740.