Day one of the Guild Wheel, seven or eight miles of it, was relatively easy, certainly compared to the 14-mile stretch which faced me today.
From the Tickled Trout Hotel, I walked on along the River Ribble towards Preston city centre. Some ways into Preston are less than beautiful, but the three miles along the Guild Wheel takes one along the scenic river route and into Avenham Park, what must be Preston’s hidden treasure. If you ever visit Preston, seek it out. It’s down the side streets but well worth the detour.
One time I walked this way – via the River Ribble – with Mum (just to the city centre, not the whole Guild Wheel route). There was a nervous moment when we came across a herd of cows but there were no calves and they ignored the strange two-leggeds. This time the bovine beauties were safely in a field, enjoying their grass.
I had a little tea break at the cafe in Avenham Park and then set off again.
Past the New Continental Pub, a popular entertainments venue, into Broadgate and here I continued along the river.
Eventually this took me to Preston Docks. Now it has pubs, cinema, shops and residential waterfront living but it was once a major industrial point, which opened in 1892. Cotton, timber, oil, coal and fruit were among the products imported and there was even a ferry service to Northern Ireland. By the 1970s though, the Docks started to decline until it eventually became today’s leisure and residential centre.
This was where I thought I would get lost but the trail is so well signposted, with clear markings on the road itself and on signs, that it was remarkably easy to find my way.
The Guild Wheel also passes a railway track – the train sets off from the Ribble Steam Railway Museum.
Circling the Docks, I found myself next to a main road. For the first time, I doubted my map-reading skills. And for the first time, the signs seemed a little lacking compared to before. The road section is a tad boring but then I found a sign and realised, thankfully, I was on the right track!
After crossing a bridge over a dual carriageway, my river and dock stroll turned into a canal ramble, along Lancaster Canal.
And then it was past the university sports hall, and into the world of suburbia and new housing developments.
And at 3pm on Sunday, I reached home. A full circle that was 21 miles long and took about 28 hours (with a night’s sleep in between).
And if I wasn’t tired on the Saturday after 8 miles, I was definitely ready for a sit down and a cup of tea after my 14-mile stretch on the Sunday!