with Bob Clare of www.lancashirewalks.com
Haslam Park to the north west of Preston city centre owes its existence to the philanthropy of the Haslam family whose wealth came from the cotton weaving industry. Cotton magnate John Haslam, owned nearby Parker Street Mill and also served the community as a Preston Town Councillor. He died on December 21, 1899 at the age of 77 and as a tribute to him his daughter Mary generously funded the design, construction and further development of the park which she then donated to the Council. It was formally opened in 1912, comprising tree-lined avenues, lakes and ponds, gardens, bowling greens and pavilions, bandstand, recreation area for football, children’s play areas and lots of paths for promenading.
Some years later Councillor John Ward donated funds to build an open-air unheated swimming baths off Bristow Avenue. These were opened in 1932 but closed in 1987. The changing facilities were about 40 cubicles around three sides of the pool, initially having full height unlockable wooden doors but later reduced to ¾ height presumably to discourage misuse, but at the cost of some loss of privacy. My recollections as a youngster in the 1950s were that the doors were creosoted and stank to high heaven when in full sun, and would stain your skin or clothes if you brushed into them. Also there was lots of grit and stones on the bottom of the pool which led to many a stubbed toe and uncomfortable walking in the shallow end. The entrance fee was thrupence ha’penny.
Start: Bristow Avenue car park, Haslam Park, Ashton-on-Ribble, Preston PR2 1JE. Vehicle access from Blackpool Road dual carriageway is only possible when driving from Blackpool direction.
Distance: 3.1 miles circular clockwise
Time: Less than 2 hours.
Grade: Easy, metalled and graded paths, with some muddy patches on the canal towpath
Map: OS Explorer 286 Blackpool & Preston
1. From the car park, turn left along Bristow Avenue to the ornate Grade II listed wrought iron entrance gates. The central double gates, which bear the Preston coat of arms, are flanked by two pedestrian gates each supported by dressed stone columns capped by cornices and ball finials. Go through the gates past the Lodge and down the avenue lined on each side by an attractive double row of lime trees for 150 yards to reach the cast iron ornamental drinking fountain on a stone plinth, but alas, no longer supplied with water. Continue for another 400 yards to the west end of the avenue to a circular rose garden just before the second set of imposing Grade II listed wrought iron entrance gates. Go through the gate and down the steep stone steps to Cottam Lane. Turn right along the lane past Willow Cottage and in 150 yards where the lane veers to the right take the left fork along the footpath through woodland. You will see Savick Brook on your right just before you reach the basin at the foot of the three-lock staircase (locks 1, 2, 3) from the Lancaster Canal to the Millennium Ribble Link. Cross Tom Benson Way at the Pelican crossing and take the path under the Blackpool line railway bridge along the gantry above the brook /canal.
2. Continue past Lock 4 and in ¼ mile turn right along Savick Way, over the bridge along the Guild Wheel cycleway to the bus turning circle. Keep left to stay on the Guild Wheel over the footbridge under the railway bridge and into the grounds of the UCLAN Sports Arena. Turn left and in 100 yards cross the road at the zebra crossing to follow the Guild Wheel signs along an avenue of trees and then right along the cycleway leading to the Final Whistle Café and Lancaster Canal Bridge 17 (Cottam Hall). Turn right down steps and along the canal towpath for ½ mile or so, passing under Tom Benson Way (B6241) to turn right at the entrance to the upper basin of the Millennium Ribble Link. Detour around the basin to see the workings of the three lock staircase and cross the footbridge over Lock 1 to return to the Lancaster canal towpath. Continue under Cottam Lane Bridge 16 (Cottam Mill), under Bexhill Road Bridge 15 (Ingol Ashes), over Aqueduct Bridge 14A and finally to Bridge 14 (Hollinshead Fold). Go under the bridge and immediately turn right up the steps into Haslam Park Local Nature Reserve, turning left into the wood. Follow the path through the woodland to turn left onto the footbridge over Savick Brook where you can see the aqueduct that carries the canal over the brook. Continue past the lake with its families of swans, ducks and moorhens.Take a short detour and turn left before the footbridge up the path alongside the mini waterfall and stream to see the canal overflow that feeds the lake then retrace your steps from the canal down to the footbridge. Turn left to return to Bristow Avenue car park.
- Walk devised and described by John Hargreaves , Honorary Lancashire Dotcom Walker.
- Bob’s walks are now available as digital guides on the iFootpath website and App (see iFootpath.com).