12 years ago, when I left University, I lived in Preston for a while in a flat near one of the entrances to Avenham Park. Despite regularly visiting Preston, I hadn’t been back to Avenham Park for a long time, so I decided to take CJ for a trip there as well as a little look round town.
Avenham and Miller Parks (they are joined together) are one of the best things about the centre of Preston – you can be off the main shopping drag of Fishergate and in a quiet and beautiful park within minutes. If anything, this park is TOO quiet, I’d like to see it much busier, it deserves to be full of people enjoying its beauty! It could do with more signposting from Fishergate for pedestrians, as I don’t think anyone would ever stumble upon it.
We cut down by Barclays Bank and then walked through Winkley Gardens (pictured right) to get to the entrance. The park is on a steep hill which eventually leads down to the river and riverside path.
The park is handsome and well kept – just as I remembered it! However, there has been a new addition in the form of the Pavillion (pictured below) – a new cafe at the bottom of the park near the river. This looks very impressive and the food looks and sounds tasty – we didn’t try it as we were meeting Mr Parklover for lunch later on (he works in Preston) but if I give it a go in future I’ll let you know. If anyone reading has tried it out, please feel free to comment!
It’s very grand here and a lovely place for a stroll. Statues, flowerbeds and a fountain are all present and correct. There’s a little shelter which was being used by some chatting teenagers and which would be handy if you got caught out by rain (although I’d be tempted to make a sprint for the cafe.)
As you can see there are quite alot of steps – if you carry on down towards the river, there’s a very pleasant path which runs along the banks. Just remember that you’re going to have to do some climbing back up again later on!
On your way back up towards the city centre, stop off to have a meander around the Japanese Garden. We kept getting overtaken by a young man running hill repetitions up the steep path, so CJ decided that we should join in shouting “LET’S RUN MUMMY!” Fortunately her legs are short and I didn’t have to do more than a shuffle.
Preston might not be top of your list for a day trip, but it has a lot going for it, not least of which this fabulous park and also its excellent transport links. The railway station is on the Westcoast Mainline and is right in the city centre. If you’re coming by car, the M6, M61 and M65 are all nearby and there are large carparks at the Fishergate Centre and on Lune Street.
The Harris Museum and Art Gallery is well worth a look, and take the time to seek out PAD just around the corner from the Harris – it’s a large space selling a wide range of crafts and artwork as well as holding exhibitions. There are some beautiful things here and I really enjoyed having a good mooch round.
Finally, don’t visit Preston without going for a brew at Brucciani’s on Fishergate. Going since 1935, nothing much has changed here in the way of decor, making it a bit of a cross between a cafe and a museum.