Weekend walk with Bob Clare of www.lancashirewalks.com
The 125 bus route connecting Preston to Bolton offers numerous choices for linear walks through a landscape rich in natural and historical heritage. Here is a walk that allows the reader to explore Cuerden Valley Park from end to end.
Start: Whittle-le-Woods PR6 7PS
Finish 1: Bamber Bridge Hob Inn PR5 6EP
Finish 2: Preston Centre
Finish 1: 3 ½ miles Finish 2: 7 miles
Finish 1: 2 hours Finish 2: 4 hours
Map: OS Explorer 286 Blackpool & Preston
1. Facing St John the Evangelist church on the A6 take a footpath to its left called Chapel Lane. This leads down to Kem Mill Lane. On reaching Kem Mill Lane turn right and follow it as it crosses the River Lostock to reach a junction with Factory Lane coming in from the right. Turn left onto the drive leading to Lower Kem Mill car park of Cuerden Valley Park. Keep ahead to enter the park on a broad cycle path. This wends its way pleasantly along the valley bottom for 700yds to an obvious junction. Here keep left and soon after climb a rise into a patch of woodland before gently descending Town Brow (B5256). The next part of the walk makes use of stepping stones over the River Lostock (if you have observed the river to be high these can be avoided by keeping to the cycle route which goes right past the Town Brow car park and turns left into the park). Cross the road to a kissing gate to join a path taking you across fields with the river to the right. After 500yds the path reaches a set of substantial stepping stones taking you across the tree lined river. On the far side follow the path as it emerges from the trees into a broad grassy space. Cross this to reunite with the cycle path and the main route through the park. Soon after on a meander of the river the cycle route turns right into woods. Keep on it as it swings left and then emerges close to a footbridge over the river. Cross this and soon after climb into the Pinetum and American Garden. As you arrive at top of the brow bear left on a narrow path leading to a viewing area for this feature of the park. Continue on the path as it bends right passes the walled garden and reaches a car park with the newly built visitor centre down to the right.
2. Turn left on the drive and then just before the Barn (HQ of the Wildlife Trust) turn right on a path leading to the rear of Cuerden Hall (home of Sue Ryder Care). Here a side door leads through a courtyard with tea room and charity shop to the main drive of the hall (if the door is shut follow the path right through the gardens until you are on the far side of the building). On the drive follow it left and then take an obscure path on the right 200yds from the hall. Soon after a set of steps leads down to a walled lined path known as the Cinder Path constructed in the 19th century, so it is said, so the landowner Robert Townley Parker would not see the hoi polloi using this ancient right of way crossing his estate. Follow it and the path beyond to re-join the main cycle route close to a footbridge across the M6. Cross to Wigan Road car park on the A49. Turn right go under the (M65) motorway bridge and then turn right into a remnant section of Cuerden Valley Park. Keep on the path as it comes to a wide open space. Here follow the path as it edges below motorway embankments to swing left to a footbridge across the River Lostock that issues from a culvert to your right. Climb a set of steps to the A6. Cross (exercising extreme care near a busy roundabout) to a path and go right into Church Road, Bamber Bridge. Turn left pass St Saviour’s Church and soon after come to Station Road by the Hob Inn on the 125 bus route.
3. For the energetic wishing to walk all the way to Preston the main instruction is to keep on Route 55 of the National Cycle Network. Cross Station Road into Havelock Road. Follow it to the end and then bear right onto a path leading to Cuerden Way. Here go right past Matalan and right again on a path that crosses the River Lostock for the final time and then passes under a railway. At Brownedge Road turn left through an underpass than then go right towards the roundabout for the A6. Just before it turn left onto the cycle route leading onto Preston Junction local nature reserve. Keep ahead on this all the way to Preston. In ¼ mile cross Todd Lane. In 1 ½ miles cross the River Ribble and walk through Avenham Park to the city centre.