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 whole of it.
For those who don’t know 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, country lanes in Woodplumpton, Brockholes Nature Reserve, the River Ribble and the beautiful Fishwick Bottoms.
The route was created just a year ago as a lasting legacy of the 2012 Preston Guild and is already the second most popular attraction in Preston on the Trip Advisor website.
We didn’t know the best or easiest direction to take, so we set off clockwise from Avenham Park, heading towards Preston docks. We headed out of the park, past the Continental and along the river with the wind gusting in our faces. As we neared the docks my son was delighted to see a Ribble Steam Railway train puffing alongside him as he cycled. He edged over the cycle path to take a closer 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 and along the canal behind Savick, we cycled through the fields and on towards Cottam. This section was peaceful and gorgeous. We curled around Preston Sports Arena and found a picnic spot.
After a refuel we headed into Woodplumpton and over to Broughton where we passed fields of cows and horses. This friendly chap came to say ‘hi’.
As we hit Broughton we came to busy traffic filled roads. 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 the noise. 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 breathe fresh air for the day. For the most part we were cycling away from roads, however the thunder of motorway traffic can be heard on some sections of the wheel.
After passing through the crematorium grounds, we went through fields near Pope Lane 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 were eager to peddle on, along the River Ribble to my favourite part of the cycle, Fishwick Bottoms.
The Guild Wheel is well sign posted and we were pleased to see wooden markers indicating how many miles we had clocked up. When we reached the seventeen mile mark we needed as much encouragement as we could get. As we wheeled our way down the hill to the finishing post on Avenham Park my son said he hoped there would be a ‘Well Done’ sign at the end. There wasn’t, so I gave him a congratulatory cuddle and took him for pizza. He still thinks there should be a sign to congratulate cyclists who complete the wheel, of and a less steep slope out of the park.
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. Get on your bike and give it a try, if we can, you can too.
View a route map of the Guild Wheel below:
View Guild Wheel in Preston, Lancashire in a larger map
Have you cycled the Guild Wheel? What did you think? Let us know in the comments below