<div style="display:inline;"> <img height="1" width="1" style="border-style:none;" alt="" src="//googleads.g.doubleclick.net/pagead/viewthroughconversion/1028731116/?value=0&amp;guid=ON&amp;script=0">
CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Lancashire Life today click here

Preston Guild Wheel - it's not just Bradley Wiggins creating a cycling legacy in Lancashire

PUBLISHED: 13:23 24 September 2012 | UPDATED: 12:59 01 June 2016

The route by Broughton College

The route by Broughton College

Since the Olympics, more and more of us are getting fit on two wheels. Martin Pilkington joins them on a new Lancashire cycle route

Signposts for Preston Guild Wheel Signposts for Preston Guild Wheel

It’s not only the Olympics that leave a legacy – the Preston Guild could have future generations of Lancastrians following in the tyre-tracks of gold medallists like Burnley’s Steven Burke and Bolton’s Jason Kenny.

This bequest comes in the shape of The Guild Wheel, a circular cycling and walking route which links tracks, footpaths and bridleways around Preston’s perimeter to form a 21 mile circuit.

The original idea came from Peter Ward, of the Preston Cycling Liaison Group, and Alan Waters was the man chosen to make it happen. He was seconded as project manager from the global engineering company, Jacobs.

Alan and I begin at Bluebell Way near M6 junction 31a. Soon we take what was once a railway line, the first reminder of the continuity of change. Once across Longridge Road we ride along the shady to the new Pope Lane nature reserve, until recently a waterlogged playing field. Then down the only really big hill in the 21-mile circuit, through Boilton Wood – unless you’re an Olympian it’s best to go clockwise because of that.

Avenham Park pavilion Avenham Park pavilion

‘Most of the funding came from Lancashire County Council which gave us £1.9 million with additional sources bringing the total up to £2.7 million,’ Alan explains. ‘Sustrans (the charity which pioneered the safer routes concept in the UK) provided money towards improvement work between Broughton College and Cottam to make it a school-route for pupils.

Barton Grange Garden Centre supplied some free help with landscaping; and we’ve had funding from the Primary Care Trust because of the health improvement implications.’ Improved access to various woodlands also brought cash from the Forestry Commission.

Beyond Boilton comes another example of how our environment is changing, and for the better: Brockholes Wetland Reserve, former quarries now lakes attracting wildlife and families. The views here are splendid as we rush towards the Ribble, possibly the prettiest section, the path hugging the river for two miles. Fly-fishermen, intent on their sport, are oblivious to our progress.

Further evidence of positive change comes with a stop at Avenham Park. Bikes secured we drink tea outside the fine new Pavilion, proof that modern architecture can be both human and beautiful. Bridges punctuate the river vista in both directions.

Cyclists on the new Windermere route Cyclists on the new Windermere route

Through the Docklands – offices and flats where once cargo ruled – then along and across Blackpool road via the cycle-friendly bridge, from which viewpoint Alan indicates an unexpected benefit of the scheme, an orchard planted with linked funding.

To our right is another legacy project, linking the Ribble with the Lancaster Canal and us with the Victorians. ‘We had good cooperation from British Waterways, doing bank reinforcement where the route follows Lancaster Canal’s Millennium Link section,’ says Alan.

‘This is very much a community project – the Probation Service provided support and we had conservation volunteers clearing paths. The challenge for the future will be maintaining the route, stopping greenery encroaching on paths. That needs community involvement. The city council has funding in its maintenance budget now, but money is tight so volunteer efforts will be invaluable.’

There is hardly a soul all the way along the canal-side, strange given how leafy and quiet it is, a wonderful place to walk as well as ride a bike.
Once past the canal we head north through parts of the quiet suburb of Cottam that I never knew existed, including the lovely ponds.

Alan, left, explaining the route to a cyclist Alan, left, explaining the route to a cyclist

After Cottam it’s over the M55 on a bridge where the Highways Agency has agreed to raise the parapets for safety, one of the more significant parts of the project. ‘The biggest challenges have not been civil engineering ones but obtaining the licences and permissions necessary to change the use of paths, or the routes,’ he says.

We cycle down the shared pathway along the A6 from Broughton to D’Urton Lane, one of the few road sections where you can for a moment – with care - be Bradley Wiggins. About 80 per cent of the way is off-road, the rest generally on quiet back-roads - then turn right into the delightfully named Midgery Lane, a misnomer as it’s more path than lane. This is the last section, mostly parkland with a few short slopes that at the end of a 21-mile ride feel like Mont Ventoux for the peloton.

For Kenny, Burke or Murray the route would not be physically challenging. Those less accustomed to exercise may prefer to take it, like the Tour de France, in stages. This unfit cyclist will certainly be returning, though with a more comfortable saddle. Least said!

You don’t need to be Bradley

The bridges at Avenham The bridges at Avenham

Bradley Wiggins, the Eccleston Olympian, says his favourite training route is 130 miles and takes in Clitheroe, Waddington Fell, Kirkby Lonsdale and Cockerham Sands.


He’s not alone in his love of Lancashire’s byways. We have some of the country’s best locations for cyclists with hundreds of routes, through urban areas and across some stunning scenery, such as the Forest of Bowland and Gisburn Forest.


There are several websites providing maps and routes for you to try out. We’d recommend the Lancashire section of www.cycle-route.com and the Lancashire county council website. You can also get a detailed map of the Guild Wheel at http://www.prestonguild2012.com/guild-wheel

0 comments

More from Out & About

Lancashire’s Walney Island looks like becoming an established breeding ground for grey seals.

Read more
Friday, November 17, 2017

This remarkable garden can whisk you on a horticulture tour of the world. Linda Viney took a trip

Read more
Monday, November 13, 2017

A fantastic end to 2017 is in store at the annual equestrian event in the centre of Liverpool.

Read more
Monday, November 13, 2017

John Lenehan heads for Gisburn to walk by the Ribble and sample the delights of the Auction Mart Cafe.

Read more
Monday, November 13, 2017

This busy community might sometimes feel like the village that time forgot, but it’s full of people who help themselves. Martin Pilkington reports

Read more
Silverdale
Monday, November 6, 2017

Follow our short guide to a festive trip to Lytham this Christmas.

Read more
Christmas
Monday, November 6, 2017

Windermere is dependent on tourism, but when the holidaymakers have left there remains a thriving village community

Read more
Windermere
Monday, November 6, 2017

The 218th Westmorland County Show welcomed HRH The Prince of Wales

Read more
Thursday, November 2, 2017

Is it a helicopter? Is it a plane? It’s neither. Or maybe both. Paul Mackenzie meets a man offering a unique bird’s eye view of the Lake District.

Read more
Lake District

It may only be a small town, but these home grown products are causing a big stir

Read more
Ormskirk
Wednesday, October 25, 2017

While conservation work is important globally, The Lancashire Wildlife Trust is stressing the need to think locally too. Alan Wright discusses the important of wildlife close to home.

Read more
Lancashire Wildlife
Monday, October 23, 2017

There are many reasons why the Forest of Bowland is designated Area of Natural Beauty, we’ve picked our favourite spots that we think you will love too.

Read more
Bowland
Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The ‘Rural Oscars’ Are Back

Read more
Monday, October 16, 2017

It may not be the Serengeti but the stunning countryside around Nicky Nook will make a perfect location for eco-holidays. Roger Borrell reports.

Read more
Bowland Scorton
 
Great British Holidays advert link

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter


Subscribe or buy a mag today

Lancashire Life Application Link

Local Business Directory

Lancashire's trusted business finder

Job search in your local area



Property Search