One of the highlights of the summer was my seven year old son learning to ride his bike. One bike ride later and he was suggesting we try the Guild Wheel. The Guild Wheel is a cycle track that circles Preston, Lancashire. The twenty one mile route takes in Preston docks – the largest 19th Century dock in Europe, the Lancaster Canal, the country lanes in Woodplumpton, Brockholes Nature Reserve, the River Ribble and the beautiful Fishwick Bottoms.
The route was created as a lasting legacy of the 2012 Preston Guild. Despite being just a little over a year old it is already the second most popular attraction in Preston on the Trip Advisor website.
We had no idea which would be the best or easiest direction to take, so we set off clockwise from Avenham Park, heading towards the docks. Avenham Park is situated a ten minute walk from Preston’s city centre and lies alongside the River Ribble. We headed out of the park and along the river with the wind gusting in our faces. My son was delighted to see a Ribble Steam Railway train puffing alongside him as he cycled and went to look. I was less enamoured to see a passing cyclist whizzing past in the other direction at an incredible speed. He shook his head as he narrowly missed my son. Thankfully other cyclists were more genial.
We carried on past the docks, past a car dealership and onto a cycle path next to a dual carriageway heading in the direction of Blackpool. This was hairy and scary as the wind pushed us back and cars flew past. We were soon over the bridge though and onto the canal, cycling through the countryside on towards Cottam. This section was peaceful and gorgeous. We stopped in Cottam for a sandwich and headed onto Woodplumpton and over to Broughton where we passed fields of cows and horses. This friendly chap came to say ‘hi’.
Again as we hit Broughton we cycled down towards the Marriot and along rather busy country lanes, after half an hour cycling we were back on the cycle path and away from traffic. The route takes you through some of Preston’s hidden green spots, forests and countryside. It was good for us townies to get out, see the wildlife and breather fresh air for the day. For the most part we were cycling away from roads, however the noise of motorway traffic can be heard on some sections of the wheel.
After passing through the crematorium grounds, we went through fields and then into a wood with a steep slope. We had to dismount here, perhaps more experienced off road cyclists could take it but it was very steep. The forest took us to the beautiful Brockholes Nature Reserve, although there is a lovely cafe floating on the lake we carried on, along the river to my favourite part of the cycle, Fishwick Bottoms.
The route is well sign posted and we were pleased to see wooden markers indicating how many miles we had clocked up. When we got to seventeen miles we needed as much encouragement as we could get. My son would have liked to have seen a ‘Well Done’ sign at the finishing post but he had to make do with a cuddle and ‘congratulations’ from me and the offer of a pizza in a nearby restaurant.
The following week we cycled just a small section of the Guild Wheel, from Avenham Park along the River Ribble to Brockholes Nature Reserve. The beauty of the route being you can walk or cycle it and join and leave at any point. Definitely worth a try.