Egg rolling or Egg Pacing is a traditional Easter game that has been tenaciously maintained in Preston despite dying out in many other places.
The idea of the game is simple enough. First you need an egg which is then boiled hard. Afterwards decorate it as brightly as possible and take it to a grassy slope where in competition with others roll it down the slope to see who can roll it the furthest. Though ancient, there are no plans to include it in the Olympic Games just yet. If such an application were to be made it might find a powerful ally in the President of the United States as egg rolling is a long established Easter event on the lawns of the White House (no need to scoff - with this President anything is possible!) Avenham Park is the place for Prestonian children to do their egg rolling. This walk which starts close to the egg rolling World Championship site explores the park, its neighbour Miller Park and takes you across the Ribble into a matrix of disused railway tracks that is now Preston Junction Local Nature Reserve.
Enter the park on a broad drive dropping quite steeply to gain level ground close to the Swiss Lodge on the right. To the left the egg rolling potential of the park should now be evident with a large natural amphitheatre offering grassy slopes down towards the River Ribble. Keep ahead past the Boer War memorial on the right to pass beneath the arch of a disused railway. In doing so you have just left Avenham Park to enter Miller Park.
Now on a broad promenade - the Derby Walk -keep ahead past the statue of Edward Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby the prominent 19th Century Prime Minister who most people have never heard of! At the far end of the Walk bear left on the upper of two paths keeping close to the railway embankment of the main West Coast Line. This takes you through a grotto and down to the riverside. Turn left and where a path branches to the left take it towards the bandstand and elegant fountain. This is a good place to appreciate the layout of the park - visually pleasing if you could erase the carbuncle office block to the left of what was the Park Hotel the Victorian building on East Cliff.
Return to the river side and pass beneath the disused railway bridge thereby re-entering Avenham Park and then climb the steps on the far side to get to the top. Turn left and cross the Ribble. Now in Preston Junction Local Nature Reserve in its heyday this area would have been train spotters’ heaven. Now it could be claimed to be bird spotters’ heaven! On a tarmac cycle route keep ahead to a branch bearing right towards Middleforth and Leyland Road. In 300yds this path reaches another junction with the Main Line ahead. Here turn left. Follow the path as it drops to an unmade road. Turn left and after passing between the remaining uprights of a bridge turn right onto a tarmac path taking you to the top of an embankment that offers fine views of the city.
Keep on this as it drops to a gateway close to the Old Tram Road. Turn left onto this broad, straight cycleway. Unlike all the tracks you have been on since crossing the river this one has a different provenance as it originated in the age of canals. Built in 1803 it connected the Leeds-Liverpool Canal from a branch near Walton Summit to the basin of the Lancaster Canal sited close to the present day University. Wagons bearing mainly coal or limestone were horse drawn. Now the tramway is an impressive tree flanked avenue that takes you back to the river. Cross the Old Tram Bridge and as you reach the far side turn left.
Back in Avenham Park walk down to the Pavilion the graceful modern building that houses a café and information point. You are now on the Guild Wheel the 21 mile cycleway that circles the city. Its official start is close to the café. Just beyond the Pavilion turn right to return to the starting point passing the Japanese Garden on the way. Incidentally this is an unlikely place of pilgrimage for Mormons as it contains a memorial to the first mission of the Church of the Latter Day Saints in 1837.
Start: Avenham Lane entrance PR1 3NA
Distance: 3 miles/5k
Time: 2 hours
Map: OS Explorer 286 Blackpool & Preston