Walking the Lancashire Way
Every summer I put aside a week and walk a part of the Lancashire Way. This summer it was the Southern Loop. The weather was typical of Lancashire with glorious sun one day and the rain the next. But it is good just to check the route and make sure that nothing has changed and replace any missing signs. My itinerary was as follows:
Day 1 – Preston to Croston using the train from Croston to Preston in the morning – 16 miles. NB The Tramway over the River Ribble is closed so a detour was required.
Day 2 – Croston to Gathurst – 16 miles. It is possible to recover your car from Croston by taking a train to Burscough Bridge and then walking to Burscough Junction to catch another train back to Croston.
Day 3 – Gathurst to White Coppice – 20 miles. A long day but there is not much height so it was fine. I had to rely upon a lift though.
Day 4 – White Coppice to Abbey Village – 17 miles. A hard day with an ascent of over 2,500ft but a great walk with everything from reservoirs to moorland. Check out the Terraced gardens at Rivington – a huge amount of work has transformed them. Left the car at White Coppice and after finishing at Abbey Village I walked back to White Coppice via the old railway to Wheelton and Brinscal and then the Goit back into White Coppice.
Day 5 – Abbey Village to Preston – 16 miles. NB Due to Covid19 the walk around Cuerden Hall is blocked off so please continue along the valley and over the M6 into the car park and pick up the National Cycleway No 55 through Bamber Bridge. Another lift was required to return to Abbey Village to collect my car.
But I am not the only person who walks the Lancashire Way. I receive messages from time to time such as T from near Chorley who said
“I didn’t realise this LDW existed until I spotted the signs on the paths near by so had to investigate it further as it was near to where I lived I had to give it a go!……
I recently did Gathurst to Mawdesley what a stunning walk, I have lived in Lancashire all these years and this lovely countryside is just on my doorstep!”
Perhaps my favourite was Marcus from Lancaster who has allowed me to publish his e mail in full as below. I admire Marcus’s tenacity in managing to walk the whole of the Northern Loop with circular day walks so he probably walked over 200 miles in total to finish it. And some of this from the photos was in the depths of Winter.
I’m writing to you as I sit in my living room: worn out, covered in nettle stings and with my still-damp walking boots drying in the corner. Over the last year or so I have been following the Northern Loop of the Lancashire Way as a solo-project, making a series of circular routes and slowly lopping off sections on spare weekends. I have been rained on, sunburned, chased by swans and threatened by cows. I’ve walked through snow, thunderstorms, scorching heat and far, far more bogs than I care to mention. And I wanted to say a big thank you for all of it!
Having moved back to Lancaster I had been looking for a way of getting to know this corner of the world in a bit more detail. Being able to take on a long-distance challenge without ever having to travel more than 20 miles or so from my house sounded perfect – in fact, I’d already covered the first and last couple of stages without even knowing it. Spotting a small white rectangle with a bootprint and a website piqued my interest and before long a plan was hatched. Now having completed a full circuit (perhaps a circuit and a half if you include the tramp back to the car at each stage) I feel as though I can say I know a bit more of the beautiful countryside I am lucky enough to call home.
The website has been a godsend throughout (not least as it has saved me from my crippling addiction to buying OS maps). The navigation has also been splendid – some sections with seemingly vague directions like “head just left of the big oak in the distance” had led me to feel a little suspicious – but on the ground the instructions at each stage became alarmingly precise and amazingly I don’t think I got lost once. At least, when I did it was because I decided I knew better and was quickly rebuked. A great sense of comfort came from each waymarker which were frequent enough to be reassuring but sparse enough to not be overbearing. In fact, the only point where I questioned the wisdom of the Way and cheated a little was when I decided to tackle Ward’s Stone and Wolfhole Crag in knee deep snow. On reflection, this difficulty might just have been my own doing!
I have enjoyed myself immensely on this walk, especially in the more recent sections where it has provided a much-needed diversion from world events. Especially as a solo walk, the route felt consistently peaceful, choosing to meander along lesser-known tracks which only added to the quiet sense of pride and wonder in the natural, local world. With that, I have been joined throughout by wildlife that I have rarely seen before, from birds of prey high above Gragareth to a family of stoats in a tree stump outside Borwick. I have found it has also connected me to places which I once considered ‘islands’ in the countryside – places I had driven past on my way to other places. Walking between them has threaded this small section of the county into something which makes more sense in some way.
I am sure that developing the route was a very labour intensive process and I wanted to extend my heartfelt thanks for designing and publishing it. I’m sure I’ll find some excuse or other to take time out to complete the other two loops as well!
Thank you Marcus – it did indeed take a long time to put it all together and hearing of your experiences makes it all the more worth while. Thank you again.
The words below are an extract from Peter who e mailed and said
“Good Morning, I just wanted to write a note of thanks to the people who put so much energy into mapping out the Lancashire Way. Early this morning I completed the last stage of the southern loop finishing at Preston bus station in a good old fashioned Lancashire rain shower. I started walking the route last November with great intentions to finish within months but the Covid lockdown and family illness have meant that it has taken me longer than planned. However I can honestly say I enjoyed every minute of it. My favourite parts so far were:
- The peace and quiet of the Ribble estuary in the early stages, and also the pleasure of walking directly to my house on the route (in Bretherton)
- Early morning mist on the canal in Parbold
- Crossing the young Yarrow river in summer(attached photo)
- The route from the bottom of Rivington to Whittle le Woods that I did in an awesome day of hills, moors and fields on a very cold but glorious end of September day
- And finally today an invigorating wet walk making the most of the extra hour when the clocks went back through Cuerden Valley and on into Preston.
I am looking forward to the Central loop in 2021, and then I need to figure out how I can do the northern loop. Once again – thank you.”
If anyone else out there has walked parts of the Lancashire Way, please do let me know about your experiences – please e mail firstname.lastname@example.org.