Sunday, 19th December 2010




Walk: Preston Dock, Lea Town and Cottam
Start Point: Ashton Park CP, Pedders Lane Grid Reference: SD 512 303
Distance: 9 miles Ascent: 230 feet
Time: 4.75 hours    
Weather: Brilliant wall to wall sunshine reflecting off a carpet of six inches of snow. Temperature at the outset was minus 9 centigrade
Comments: Undeterred by atrocious road conditions nine people joined the leader at Ashton Park. Leaving the picturesque park the group headed down to the former Preston Dock which is now a Marina, shopping, office and residential area.

A foundation stone of the former Albert Edward Dock was laid by King Edward V111 in July 1885 and the dock covered an area of forty acres. It was said to be the largest inland port in the UK. In its heyday the docks imported such things as china clay, wood-pulp, cotton, timber, bananas, cattle and petroleum with coal and coke being exported.

The leader took her party by the marina, which in the late nineteen fifties was the berth of Roll 0n Roll Off ferries serving Larne, and then past apartments on the quay side which are converted warehouses. At the south east corner of the dock there used to stand, a warehouse that held bananas from the Windward Islands. Leaving the quay side the route was over a rail track to a path on the bank of the River Ribble. Following the river down stream, and watching the bank to bank ice floe flow with it, the group arrived at the Bull Nose which is the shipping entrance to the docks. Whilst crossing the lock gates a Santa Steam Special Train attempted to cross a joint rail/road swing bridge but alas it had difficulty in overcoming the icy conditions on the road/rail surface. The train runs on part of what was a large dock rail network. After elevenses near to the Bull Nose the party continued along the river to the Locomotive Sheds owned by the Ribble Steam Railway before joining Riversway (A583). This slightly uphill stretch of footpath proved to be the hardest bit of walking of the day as the group trudged through six inches deep un-trodden snow. Near to Old Lea Hall the group crossed the A583 and then the Millennium Canal Link (Savick Brook). After crossing a few fields the group traversed a deserted Ashton & Lea Golf Course on the way to Darkinson Lane. Following the snow covered lane to the Lancaster Canal they then took the Tow Path to Lea Road. Leaving the canal the group walked on to Cottam where recent development has converted fields into bricks and mortar dwellings and abundant open spaces. It was in one such area that the party sat amongst the snow for a lunch break. Continuing, the walk the leader led her group over the frozen Lancaster Canal (by bridge) and then across the University of Central Lancashire’s sports complex to re-join the Millennium Link. Passing under a railway bridge and then over Tom Benson Way the leader joined Cottam Lane to return to Ashton Park. Although it was below freezing the group kept warm and cheerful and admired the fantastic snow covered panorama that nature had provided. Thank you Leader for an enjoyable day’s walking.

Scroll down to see photos of the walk

The start point, Ashton Park, Preston


A (Cold) Drink Fountain on Ashton Park


Ashton House


Preston Marina


Anyone for a Yummy Ice Cream


Reflections in Albert Edward Dock


Riverside (Ribble) Walk


A riverside snowman


At the Bull Nose looking down the River Ribble


Smoke from a Santa's Special . . .


trying to cross a swing bridge . . .


but it got stuck on the ice


Elevenses at the Bull Nose


Heading for the Ashton and Lea Golf Course . . .


past the snow capped posts . . .


and stiles


Continuing under snow covered trees . . .


putt there was no golf today


Tracks in the snow


Darkinson Lane, Lea Town


The Lancaster Canal at Lea Road


Approaching Cottam


Who's been sitting on my seat?


Lunch in the snow at Cottam


The sun over Cottam

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