Things to do in Preston
The Queen's Golden Jubilee City in the Heart of Lancashire
As a fairly small city Preston often gets overlooked. It is often overshadowed by its larger neighbours Manchester and Liverpool and better known neighbour Lancaster. While many people know the name through driving past on the M6 or travelling through the busy railway station, it isn’t often that people stop by and see how much there is to do in the Queen’s Golden Jubilee City. Perhaps it’s time to stop by and see what Preston has to offer you for a day out?
Preston – Rejuvenated as the Queen’s Golden Jubilee City
Preston is the nearest place to Moss Wood with true city centre shopping. The city is just 30 minutes south down the M6 or slightly longer travelling on the more scenic A6. There are two main shopping centres in the city centre, St Georges’ and the Fishergate Centre. However, for something a little different try the Guild Hall or the stunning Victorian setting of Miller Arcade. Between the two is Fishergate, the main shopping street in the city. The street has recently been heavily refurbished with millions of pounds spent on modernising the look of the city. As a result Preston has been brought into the 21st Century with a revamp!
For a distraction from shopping, you can see the sights of what was once the cotton capital of the world. Some of this old wealth is visible in the Flag Market in the heart of the city. Here you will also find the free-to-visit Harris Museum, set in an imperial building overlooking the plaza. Just a few yards from the Flag Market is the covered market which is an impressive wrought-iron structure. Work is currently underway to put glass walls in place around the market.
Away from the bustle of the city centre, Preston has more to offer visitors. There are several parks across the city which are Green Flag standard. The easiest of these to get to are Avenham and Miller Parks, just five minutes walk from the Flag Market. These parks, neighbouring each other, are beautifully kept and often have events running over summer weekends. The River Ribble runs directly alongside both parks and adds to the serenity of the scene. The Lancaster Canal cuts a quiet through the city north of the city centre. The two waterways are brought together through the £5.4 million Ribble Link scheme completed in 2002. The Ribble Link has nine locks north of the river and makes for a lovely walk along the waterside.
Entertainment, eating and drinking in Preston
For a small city, Preston offers a lot of entertainment. In the evenings a number of pubs and bars often host live music from local acts – look out for the Ferret who are well known locally for quality indie-style acts (as well as an infamous burger menu). For bigger performances the best venue in town is at the Guild Hall which often boasts national names on stage.
In Preston you can also find one of the closest cinemas to Moss Wood. The Odeon cinema at Preston Docks has several screens showing films throughout the day and has good parking available. Sitting by the dock, the cinema is next to a couple of restaurants if you want to combine your film-going with a meal.
The nearby King Karai is highly regarded as one of the best Indian restaurants in the city and is just a short walk from both the city centre and the cinema. The Flag Market in the city centre is home to the locally loved Caribbean style restaurant Turtle Bay. A short walk down Cannon Street (a quiet street off Fishergate) will take you to the Mystery Tea House which serves a mind-boggling variety of teas, many of which you can buy dry to take home with you if you like – they even serve a range of home-cooked delicacies. Finally, combining quality cooking with quality entertainment, the Continental pub, tucked away on the far side of Miller Park, serves good food and is renowned for being a high quality small venue for live performances.
Just 20 minutes south of the city there is a fairly new nature reserve, Longton Brickcroft. The wetland area is located on a former brickworks site and is now 11 hectares of conservation land. Car parking is free and in addition to the conservation area, you can also make use of the picnic site as well as drop into the modern visitors’ centre.
Another relatively new installation, Brockholes is just on the eastern edge of Preston. The wetland nature reserve is exceptionally accessible as it sits right on junction 31 of the M6. Despite the location the reserve is peaceful and quiet and is home to one of the most extraordinary visitor centres in the country. The series of buildings and area between them is built on an artificial floating island from which you can get unparralleled views of the local bird life. The parking has a small fee but there is no charge to visit the visitor centre or to wander around the reserve.
25 minutes drive north of Preston is Beacon Fell. Sitting near the bottom edge of the Forest of Bowland AONB the hills and woodland make for a diverting walk. As the largest hill before the sea, you can get fabulous views across the coastal plain. On a clear day you can see all the way to Blackpool as well as impressive views over Preston.
Cycling around Preston
2012 was the year of the ‘Preston Guild’, a historic celebration that happens once every twenty years. Traditionally when local tradesmen would receive their rights to work in the city and apprentices would graduate, today it is an occasion where the city comes together for a series of carnivals and civic events. In 2012 the Guild was marked by the opening of the ‘Guild Wheel’ cycle route. The route weaves a circular route through the rural outskirts of the city and traces along the path of the River Ribble.
Click here to find the Guild Wheel route (National Cycle Route 622, visible around Preston) or to plan your route to cycle to Preston from Moss Wood.