Ribble Way: A6, Preston to Ribchester


A6, Preston


9.8 miles (15.7kms)

515ft (157m)

About the walk

This stage quickly leaves the urban setting for green fields alongside the river. Transport history is a strong theme in the early stages. In pre-turnpike days, travellers between Blackburn and Preston crossed the River Ribble at Brockholes on an ancient ferry. A temporary structure, built in 1826, superseded the ferry and had a halfpenny toll. The present structure, which carries the A59, dates from 1937. The nearby M6 marks Britain’s first motorway; an 8.25 mile (13.3km) stretch by-passing Preston was opened in 1958. 

Cuerdale Hall is seen near the south bank of the River Ribble. There, in 1840, workmen discovered 10,000 early silver coins and some silver ingots, believed to have belonged to an invading Scandinavian army. The coins were minted between AD815 and 930. Most of the Cuerdale Hoard is now on display in the British Museum.

The village of Ribchester has a few notable buildings, including St Wilfrid’s Church, parts of which date from the 8th century. The church stands in what was the centre of Ribchester’s famous Roman fort, Bremetennacum Veteranorum. The fort was established around AD 70, and occupied until the 4th century, although its heyday was probably in the 2nd century. The columns of the portico at the White Bull Inn are said to have come from the Roman site. Here, in the churchyard, a motto carved on a sundial gives food for thought:

“I am a shadow, so art thou; I mark time, dost thou?”

Walk directions

Cross London Road (A6) and follow the Guild Wheel down again. Soon, just beyond a small bridge, leave the track by a stile on the right, go back to the river and keep close to it around a long loop. Rejoin the Guild Wheel near a large farm (Mete House) and continue along the surfaced track below Melling’s Wood on its steep bluff. Continue alongside a golf course to Brockholes Bridge.

Follow the Guild Wheel, under the bridge and then rightwards along a fenced track. On the left now are some sand and gravel workings. Pass under three bridges (the M6 and associated feeder roads) to reach the entrance to Brockholes nature reserve.

Take the track on the left, then keep right at a fork. After about 700m a gap on the right gives access to the ‘Visitor Village’ which has a café and toliets. Otherwise, keep straight on along the track, which soon climbs steeply (signs urge cyclists to dismount) through Red Scar Wood. At the top, after a barrier, keep right, following the upper edge of the wood.

At Mile 5 of the Guild Wheel, leave it for the last time, joining a small path which initially stays close alongside it. Eventually the Guild Wheel curves away; keep following the edge of the wood until you reach a stile. Cross this and turn right. Cross three fields, keeping roughly parallel to the wood on your right. The path skirts the corner of the fourth field to enter Tun Brook Wood. Go down steps to cross Tun Brook. Climb steeply up the other side, out of the wood, cross a meadow and turn left on a metalled lane.

At a T-junction turn left for 0.5 miles (800m) then turn right, on to a track which passes Marsh House. Cross a stile at the end of the track and continue alongside a hedge. Cross a large field, keeping left of a pond, then join a farm track and follow it to a lane beside Alston Hall Cottages.

Additional information

Solid tracks, then field paths; some can be muddy at times

Urban, reclaimed gravel workings near motorway, then peaceful green valley and woods

Best chances to run free are in woodland sections

OS Explorer 286, 287

Many car-parks in Preston; Pay-and-display car-park in Ribchester

At Brockholes Visitor Village and at car park in Ribchester

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Read our tips to look after yourself and the environment when following this walk.

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