I went on a mini adventure last week. I jogged down the hill to our local railway station, caught the 09:36 train to Preston, and ran the Preston Guildwheel 21 mile cycling route encircling Preston, before catching the train back home again.
I’ve been wanting to try the Guildwheel route for a while. People I know who have run or cycled it have told me it’s a beautiful route, and I was looking forward to incorporating it as one of my long marathon training runs. I had booked the date in my diary a couple of month previously, and arranged with some running buddies to join me, and I couldn’t believe my luck when the day dawned bright, warm and sunny – the perfect day for a long run!
The Guildwheel route officially starts and finishes in Preston’s Avenham Park, but in reality you can join it at whatever point you wish around the City. For me, Avenham Park was ideal, a short hop from the train station. Avenham Park is a beautiful open space bordering the River Ribble. The Guildwheel was opened in 2012 as a greenway around the City, in a bid to link the city with its surrounding countryside more easily, and the route has certainly made a success of this. We ran the route in an anti-clockwise direction, running towards Brockholes first, and even 2 miles into our run, I remember commenting at how we were already in the countryside yet so close to the centre.
The route is mainly off-road, on either tarmac or dirt paths, and the section we did first, heading towards Brockholes nature reserve, was the muddiest section. The first part of our route took us underneath the M6 motorway, and then right through Brockholes, after which there is a steep cobbled climb through the woods exiting at the Crematorium.
After this, we crossed a main road and ran through a more industrial area, following the frequent little blue signs. The route is really well marked, and there were just a couple of points where signs were a little confusing and we had to consult our map, but it is a really easy route to navigate.
The route took us as far north as Broughton, before heading south again towards the canal, and back to the river. It was nice to explore some of Preston. I did my Masters degree here many years ago, at UCLAN, and simply used to commute up the M6 and back for my weekly lecture, without seeing any of the City, so running through the university sports campus brought a smile to my face. Preston has so much beautiful green space. I’m sure most cities do if you know where to look, and this route is an amazing resource to get people outdoors and more active.
I think my favourite section of the route was beside the river. We don’t have any big rivers in Bolton, just a few small ones, and the Ribble is so wide and impressive. It reminds me of the Mersey; I grew up on the banks of the Mersey and I just love being beside water, it always feels so relaxing.
We completed the route in around 4 hours, taking it really easy, with plenty of stops for Mitsy the dog who joined us on our adventure. There are plenty of cafes on route, and plenty of places to get refreshments, so it would make a great day out for anyone, whether running, walking or cycling. We had lunch in the cafe at Avenham Park afterwards – an egg sandwich never tasted so good after running 21 miles!
Here is the website about it with the route map and plenty of information: https://www.lancashire.gov.uk/leisure-and-culture/cycling/guild-wheel/