266 am Preston to Freckleton

I am worried about today’s walk from Preston to Freckleton. The obvious route – along a major A road – looks unpleasant and potentially dangerous. So I have mapped out a tortuous inland route, involving footpaths that might not exist in reality, and minor roads that may turn out to be not-so-minor.

My walk begins, however, as a pleasant stroll through parkland.

01 park in Preston, Ruth Livingstone

And then I continue along the River Ribble, following a joint cycle/walk way.

02 cycle way, Preston, Ruth Livingstone hiking in Lancashire

A cycling signpost suggests that Freckleton, my planned destination, is only 6 miles if I stick to a cycle route, considerably shorter than my planned itinerary. Excellent! This route is part of the Guild Wheel, a 21 mile greenway forming a circle around Preston.

03 Guild Wheel circuit of Preston, Ruth Livingstone

I meet bevies of cyclists. And the occasional dog walker.

04 cycling group, Preston, Ruth hiking the Guild Wheel route

After a while, the cycle route curves to the right, but I continue along the river following a marked footpath that runs behind a housing estate. The river is behind a screen of trees to my left.

05 behind houses, Ruth hiking in Preston

I reach Bull Nose point and turn inland to circumnavigate the marina. A swing bridge could take me across the mouth of the docks, but it’s not functioning this morning.

06 swing bridge, Docklands, Ruth walking through Preston

The marina is workmanlike. I walk around the outer dock and use another bridge.

07 view down the river, Ruth hiking through Preston

From here the cycle route heads down along the river. This is lovely.  I look over at the far bank, where I walked yesterday among the marching pylons.

08 heading out of Preston, Ruth's coastal walk, Lancashire

But all too soon my track joins a road. I’m in an industrial estate. A procession of learner drivers pass me, presumably taking advantage of these quiet roads to practice 3-point turns and emergency stops.

09 industrial estate, Preston, Ruth hiking the coast

My heart sinks when I realise where the Guild Wheel cycle route is taking me. It joins the busy A road – the road I’d been planning to avoid. Now the cycle track becomes nothing more than a wide pavement, apparently shared by walkers, cyclists and police vehicles!

10 road walking out of Preston, Ruth walking the English Coast

There is not much to say about this section of the walk, in reality only about 5 miles, but seeming longer. It’s hot. The traffic hurtles by. The scenery is uninteresting. I meet the occasional cyclist, although most people wisely seem to avoid cycling along this route.

A sign tells me it is 4 miles to Freckleton. What? The last mileage indicator was a long way back – before the marina – and it said 6 miles. Surely I’ve walked more than 2 miles?!

11 Guild Wheel route to Freckleton from Preston, Ruth Livingstone

A couple of elderly walkers come towards me. They look hot, tired and dispirited – too fatigued even to say hello.

12 tired walkers, Ruth hiking to Freckleton

I stop at the entrance to a farm track, where an avenue of trees gives me some shade from the relentless heat, and take some swigs from my water bottle. In a nearby field is a strange carving on a pole. A giant bird. Is it a bird-scaring device? Or just a fun sculpture?

13 carved bird on a pole, Ruth Livingstone

Onwards. I reach the intersection where the A 584 splits off to take the coastal route into Blackpool. Oh good, perhaps this section will be better.

14 Ruth hiking the road to Freckleton

There are more trees here, which is a bonus, but the cycle track becomes a cycle lane running in the road, where I don’t think it’s very safe to walk, as the traffic is fast moving. So I walk on the verge. Sometimes there’s a narrow pavement. Sometimes there isn’t.

15 road walking to Freckleton, Ruth's coastal walk, Lancashire

Stumbling along an uneven verge, battered by the drafts from passing vehicles, is not a pleasant experience – as every walker knows. [‘Purgatory‘ I wrote on my map afterwards, to remind myself of my suffering!] Imagine my delight, therefore, when I finally reach the beginning of Freckleton and find a welcoming bench surrounded by pretty flowers.

16 Freckleton at last, Ruth hiking to Blackpool

After a much-needed rest, and another drink, I leave the main A road (hooray!) and head down a quiet lane, which becomes a country track, and gradually becomes more and more overgrown with vegetation until it’s hard to tell it’s a road at all. This is much better.

17 unadopted road, Freckleton, Ruth's coastal walk

And Freckleton has another little treat for me: a splendid island in the road, covered in a glorious display of summer bedding.

18 Preston Old Road, Freckleton, Ruth hiking to Blackpool

I wander through some empty streets until I find what I’m looking for. The pub!

19 The Ship, Freckleton, Ruth hiking from Preston to Blackpool

It’s a sleepy Wednesday, and there are not many people in the bar, although quite a crowd on the patio outside. I’m too hot to sit in the sunshine and I eat inside, next to a bookcase full of interesting old books – which I can’t help picking up and reading extracts from. So my lunch time lasts rather longer than planned.

[to be continued…]

About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, doctor, woman, etc.
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12 Responses to 266 am Preston to Freckleton

  1. owdjockey says:

    Hi Ruth, I remember seeing that [wooden crow?] alongside the main road. It took a while to understand what it actually was………………a wooden crow I think!

  2. jcombe says:

    It’s not a great start to the day this part of the walk is it? I followed the same path as you beside the Ribble through to the industrial estate. But I could not face walking next to the dual carrigeway, so I continued north through residential roads and the odd footpath to the A5085. then on to the “Millenium Ribble Link” canal. I could follow the towpath down to Goddier Bridge then the complicated bridge that leads to Old Hall Farm. Then I stuck with the A583 to the A584 junction. I was pleased to see the A583 did have a pavement as you fond. But at the A584 it looked to me like the pavement ahead ended (I see it did from your post). So I stuck to the A583 to Clifton. Here I hoped to follow the footpaht to “Hanging Banks Plantation” and on to Newton-with-Scales. But it was so overgrown from the road I could not even get on the path, so I had to abandon that and continue on the A583 to Newton-with-Scales (strange name). From here I took the bridlepath south that leads to Toll Bridge House on the A584. Then a short stretch along the A584 before I could pick up the Lancashire Coastal Way and – at last – away from busy roads.

    This was free of traffic but turned out to be something of a mud bath along the edge of the marshes (it was October when I did this walk). I followed that as far as Lytham where I had booked a ticket on the train to travel home.

    I was not too thrilled when my train did not arrive and the station at Lytham did not even have any information displays or help point. I dialled the telephone number on a poster at the station, only to get a message that it was no longer in use! So I dialled the National Rail Enquiries number and got through to someone in (I think) India who mixed up “Lytham” with “Witham” (in Essex). Once I had resolved that one (I realised the problem when he mentioned Chelmsford!) he found that my train was cancelled, and told me to get the next one (by this time, in 45 minutes) and change at Preston, Birmingham and Reading. I queried this was OK because I was not due to travel via this route but via London and then after checking the details of my ticket confirmed that it wasn’t. Then started questioning me about where I got my ticket from (the internet) and then decided that there was “no valid ticket for that route”. So I read him the itinary I had printed when I booked the ticket. He told me it did not exist (it did). At this point I angrily hung up. Shortly after that a train came going the other way so I asked the guard what I should do. It turned out to be the next train to Preston, but first had to go to Blackpool South and turn around. So I got on that whilst the helpful guard worked out a valid route for me (he did confirm my original route and itinary was valid and I could do the same, just an hour later) and printed another ticket with the new itinary on it. Very helpful and a lot better than the man on the telephone! If you used the trains, I hope you had better luck than me.

    • I’ve just traced your route on my OS map, Jon, and similar to the route I had originally planned, except I was going to turn north at Goodier Bridge and follow minor roads through to Newton-with-Scales (I agree, weird name!). Then I was seduced by the cycle route being so clearly marked and signed. Mistake. Sounds like you had a bad experience with the train.

  3. Marie Keates says:

    The first part of that cycle route reminds me of the Boardwalk and my old walk to work. Roads like the second part really are a walker’s nightmare.

  4. Nick Heaps says:

    Hello Ruth. I have just read your accounts of your walks from Preston to Blackpool. It was like deja vu. We walked from Preston to Lytham in a day. After the boatyard the path just petered out so it was back through the boatyard and wandering in someone’s garden like you. Once the upwards path was found we were joined by a local keen to tell us her life story and equally keen not to be shaken off. Unfortunately the edge of the estuary was quite wet and we spent ages trying to avoid shin deep mud. We too took the diversion around the creek before realising there was a shortcut. An interesting day.

    • Hi Nick. I’ve just reread the blog posts about this day, and it brought the memories all back. Not a pleasant walk – except for some stretches. Wonder if you’ve tried walking the whole of the Lancashire coast path? It’s a shame it’s not better organised, and I do wonder how they’re going to comply with the new England Coast Path, which should be in place by the end of 2020 – only 2 years away!

      • Nick Heaps says:

        Hello. We have only done Preston to Fleetwood and Morecambe to Silverdale so far. I can’t see how the coastal route is going to be complete in time. So much to do. We have had trouble with the route in Cumbria too – the little bit we have done.
        When you have got round Scotland you will be pleased the path is much easier to find in the North East. Berwick to Newbiggin is a delight, although there is a tricky bit from Holy Island to Bamburgh. The Yorkshire coast good too until you get south of Bridlington and numerous caravan parks have claimed and fenced off the cliff tops.
        A good stretch of Humber Bridge to Hull unfortunately reminded me of walking out of Preston. Walking beside an even busier dual carriageway, so loud conversation was difficult.

  5. Karen White says:

    I would have spent all afternoon with the old books. :o)

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