THE SOUTHERN LOOP
The Southern Loop is the first part of the Lancashire Way, which covers the Southern half of the county. It begins and ends in Preston and is about 81 miles long. It is the junior part of the walk and quite modest compared with its two brothers to the North. It is also less well known than in particular the Central Loop but I am sure that it will give you quite a few surprises. The total climb is just over 7,000 feet in total, about half that of the Central Loop. Indeed six of the Stages barely climb 100 feet above sea level as it makes it way along the Ribble estuary, the West Lancashire Plain and the Douglas Valley. The highest point is Winter Hill at 456m or just under 1,500ft.
The highlight is probably the West Pennine Moors, centred on Rivington, but there are many other great places along the Way. Unlike many walks, including the Central and Northern Loops, it is not entirely rural and does have stretches that take in parts of Lancashire’s great industrial heritage. As such it is not always pretty and scenic, but always interesting. How can you walk through Lancashire and not take in the remnants of the great Industrial Revolution, when the region was a powerhouse of the world economy?
Mawdesley Moss with Winter Hill in the distance
PRACTICALITIES OF COMPLETING THE SOUTHERN LOOP
My suggestion would be to complete in five days as follows
Day 1 – Preston to Croston – Stages 1-4 – 15.5 miles. Stay at the Rufford Hotel or catch a train back into Preston for the overnight stay.
Day 2 – Croston to Wigan – Stages 5-8 – 16.3 miles. Wigan has various accommodation options. You could finish at Gathurst to reduce the day by 3 miles and catch the train in to Wigan for over night accommodation.
Day 3 – Wigan to White Coppice- Stages 9-11 – 15.3 miles. You will have to take a taxi from White Coppice to Chorley for accommodation. This could also be shortened by not completing Stage 11. This leaves you in south Chorley with accommodation in walking distance.
Day 4 – White Coppice to Abbey Village – Stages 12-14 – 17.1 miles. A hard day. This can be reduced by 4 miles by just completing Stages 13 and 14 and add Stage 12 to the previous day, which is a much easier day. Alternatively only walk Stage 12 and 13. Use a bus or taxi to return to Chorley and stay at the same hotel as Day 3.
Day 5 – Abbey Village to Preston – Stages 15 and 16 – 16.1 miles.
|Stage No||Stage Name||OS Map||Miles||Hours||Cum Miles||Cum Hrs||Highest Ft||Climb ft||Cum Climb ft||Grid Ref Start||Grid Ref End|
|1||Preston||LW S1||2.00||2.0||2||2||102||187||187||534 291||505 283|
|2||Start of Ribble Way||LW S2||6.25||2.0||8.25||4||58||143||330||505 283||458 254|
|3||A59 Bretherton||LW S3||3.75||1.5||12.00||5.5||37||190||520||458 254||461 215|
|4||Croston||LW S4||3.50||1.25||15.50||6.75||33||75||595||461 215||489 184|
|5||Mawdsley||LW S5||3.25||1.25||18.75||8||72||112||707||489 184||495 151|
|6||Parbold||LW S6||6.25||2.5||25.00||10.5||507||586||1293||495 151||491 105|
|7||Gathurst||LW S7||6.50||3.0||31.5||13.5||566||671||1964||491 105||540 074|
|8||Wigan Pier||LW S8||3.25||1.5||34.75||15.0||90||64||2028||540 074||577 052|
|9||Haigh Hall||LW S9||5.25||2.0||40.00||17.0||515||512||2540||577 052||597 085|
|10||A6 South Chorley||LW S10||6.50||2.5||46.50||19.5||420||348||2888||597 085||595 153|
|11||White Coppice||LW S11||4.75||2.0||51.25||21.5||669||662||3550||595 153||620 190|
|12||Rivington||LW S12||4.00||1.5||55.25||23||556||482||4032||620 190||626 144|
|13||A675 near Tockholes||LW S13||7.00||3.0||62.25||26||1495||1406||5438||626 144||659 197|
|14||Abbey Village||LW S14||6.25||2.5||68.50||28.5||1249||740||6178||659 197||643 223|
|15||Whittle-le Woods||LW S15||8.75||3.5||77.25||32||702||820||6998||643 223||578 216|
|16||Preston||LW S16||7.25||2.5||84.50||34.5||243||272||7270||578 216||534 291|