The municipal park – the great bequest of the Victorians – is very easy to overlook as a suitable area for a serious walk. Parks are for “strolling” in with dog or child. They are appreciated as a local amenity by locals. Few people go to another town or city with the main purpose to walk in its park – especially if there is a lot of countryside in between. Yet Lancashire as a whole and Preston in particular has a considerable number of first rate parks. In Preston there is a 13 mile circuit linking its 7 main parks. This walk starts in two of its most attractive open spaces – Avenham Park and Miller Park which lie side by side along the River Ribble to the south of the city. 


Start: Avenham Lane entrance, Avenham Park. PR1 8JT GR SD538289


Fact file:

Distance: 2½ miles 4k

Time: 1 - 2  hours

Summary: Easy. Suitable for push chairs, wheel chairs and walkers who prefer not to do stiles.

Map. OS Explorer 286 Blackpool & Preston.


Map by kind permission of Johnston Press

1. From the main entrance


descend on the main drive branching right just after the chalet


on a broad walkway. To the right the war memorial to the Boer War;


to the left the Japanese Gardens.


Pass beneath the old East Lancashire Railway Line


to enter Miller Park.


Laid out in a more formal style than its neighbour


the walkway with its balustrade acts like a gallery over the features of the park - fountain, flowerbeds and bandstand. Pass the statute of the Earl of Derby


and keep ahead until just before the embankment of the West Coast railway line.


Here bear left on a path taking you through a grotto like archway and descending to the riverside besides the imposing viaduct.


2. Turn left and follow the riverside walk back beneath the viaduct into Avenham Park.


Turn immediately left and then climb the stairs


to the top of the embankment. (Wheels there is ramp further on). Cross the river


passing into the borough of South Ribble and Preston Junction local nature reserve. Just after crossing look out for the Banksie type artwork on the sports block across to the left)


Keep on the broad path for 500yds and then follow it left as is drops to a track.


Cross the track


to regain the top of the embankment.


Here is a particularly good viewing point both for Preston to the north and the playing fields of Cardinal Newman College to the south. A little ahead is another form of public art.


Thus far vandals have not defaced this feature presumably because they are under the impression it has already been vandalised!) Keep ahead to where the path meets the Old Tram Road.


3. The route now returns to Preston along a magnificent avenue of trees.


Turn left.


This was the route of a tramway that once served to connect the Leeds- Liverpool Canal with Preston. Now it is a popular amenity for walkers, runners and cyclists. Not until you are close to the river


do you break out into the open to cross the Old Tram Bridge.


On the far side keep ahead to climb through barriers


 to reach a broad open space in front of the Belvedere


an attractive stone building. Here it is worth a short diversion to the right first to admire Avenham House the Italianate Victorian house


overlooking the park and then look at the Sebastopol cannons


- trophies from the Crimea War. Near them is a viewpoint over the River Ribble which is one of Preston's finest.


From the Belvedere keep ahead on a upper path with the main bowl of the park down to the left.


This will return you to the entrance.

Points of interest

The memorial to the South African War. Originally placed on the Flag Market in 1904, the memorial to the Boer War was moved in 1925 to make way for the Cenotaph. The obelisk lists 86 men and boys who lost their lives in the conflict.

Earl of Derby statue. To Edward Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby. Who served three times as Prime Minister in the 19th century. It seems remarkable that when this was unveiled in 1873 it was witnessed by a crowd of 40,000 people.

Preston Junction Local Nature Reserve.


The open space just south of the river was once the scene of a busy rail junction with one branch going out to Southport and another going to East Lancashire and Yorkshire. When the railway was closed nature quickly moved in. Lancashire County Council's REMADE (Reclamation and management of Derelict Land) programme working in partnership with Lancashire Wildlife Trust has done much to create a superb amenity for walkers and cyclists as well as a natural wildlife corridor. 

Where to eat and drink.
The Pavilion Café


See Tel 01772 907740