Monday, 23 September 2013

Days Out - Lancashire - Brockholes Nature Reserve

Autumn is setting in and I'm determined to make the most of it. The cricket season is over which means I get cricket mad Mr Peach back, all be it around winter football fixtures. This fall I'm on a mission to get out more to explore the North-West of England. I want to find new places and expand our usual fall-back circuit of Sunday trips. The only limit is our budget.....prepare yourselves for day-tripping on a shoestring!

Yesterday we visited the super new nature reserve of 'Brockholes', just south of Preston (and therefore only a 40 minute zip up the M55 for us). Locality and ease of access....Win #1 (Mr Peach is like an impatient child when it comes to day tripping - it helps when I drive as he can keep himself occupied DJ'ing and surfing on his phone, but I still get 'how long?'...'how long now?'... like a stuck record until we arrive).

Brockholes is a nature reserve on the site of a former quarry, lying between the river Ribble and the M6 motorway just south of Preston. In just 5 years, from 2006 to 20011, the Lancashire Wildlife Trust developed the site from industrial wasteland to a tranquil parkland, with secluded wooded glades and fantastic views over beautiful, quintessentially Lancastrian countryside.

Apologies as these aren't the best photos ever, but here's some of us exploring one of the woodland trails, up through Redscar woods.
We started walking down to the River Ribble...

It turned out to be a beautiful sunny early Autumn day. That's the River Ribble behind me.
Everywhere we walked we were followed by the most beautiful (but camera-shy) red Dragon Flies!

(On a style note - I was roasting and ended up carrying that coat most of the way. I need to review my choice of clothes and hair styles for days flyaway hair really does not like the outdoors!)

The reserve has such stunning views across the Lancashire countryside 
(OK I'm bias, but it really is beautiful!)

Then we headed off into the woodland. There are several routes, some for bikes and people, some only for people. We chose the on-foot routes, but will definitely be returning on two wheels when we get our bikes back up and running as the cycle routes looked so much fun! 

The paths were really clear and easy to follow. If you have little ones (or an easily bored husband) there's great signage showing what nature you can spot in the woods. We played along...of course!

Here's Mr Peaches looking angry...he wasn't actually, but was trying to out-cool the woodland. He loves this photo as he says he looks like terminator...i'm less sure.

Even in this little woodland glade we spotted footprints, acorns, odd sounding birds and a teeny tiny cute little frog disguised as a mossy stone. 

It's been a bumper year for fruit and there were signs of this everywhere. Blackberries in every nook and cranny. Look at the big, juicy (but very inedible) berries on this tree:

We climbed the steep steps up to the top of the woods.

This is taken about half-way up, there's the same number of steps behind us here!
If you're not so steady on your feet (or feeling unfit like me!) don't worry, as there's little benches or clean swept fallen tree trunks to rest on placed at convenient intervals along the way. 

When we reached the top the pathway opened right out onto open pastures where it connects to the Preston cycle network, the 'Millenium Wheel' circuit...which we also can't wait to explore when we're back on two wheels. 

We don't know why the stretch we were on was called 'Pope Lane'....something to investigate...

The path was super easy to follow with directions everywhere - we followed them back through the woods on another path, past the brilliant outdoor play-centre and back to the start of the trail.

After our little wander around the reserve we headed down to the fabulous visitor centre. 
The whole visitor centre actually's brilliant!
(of course I forgot to photograph this - here's a couple of photos from the Brockholes website)


Ok, I have to admit now I actually had an ulterior motive for choosing to visit Brockholes yesterday. 
I had heard that Crafty Vintage were paying the centre a special visit that day...


We paid our bargain £1 entry fee & spent a great half hour exploring the fab little stalls.
Were we not there on a shoestring I could have spent a fortune.
 I must remember in future to budget in the price of a cake and a hot chocolate for Mr Peach to keep him entertained whilst I shop...and some spending money for me ;)

After the fair we visited the great interactive information centre and sat by the lake admiring the view and stretching our ornithological muscles (but not, of course, feeding any scary birds!)

As the sun set the sky turned dramatic and a little ominous...

So we headed back home, full of fresh air and fun.

Thanks Brockholes - see you soon!


Tips for your Trip.....

What to Expect
Parking - £3.05 for nearly 3 hours. The reserve is free to visit but proceeds from parking go back to Lancashire Wildlife Trust. (There are sneaky ways of avoiding the parking charge, but you'll have to explore them yourself as it wouldn't be fair to publish them online). **TIP** Take LOTS of change for the car park...there was change swapping en mass between strangers at the pay point!
Public Transport - Preston is easy to get to by Train. If you took your bikes you could cycle from the station to the reserve, through the centre of Preston to the outskirts, in around 20-30 minutes. 
Good for children? - Yes....10/10, provided your little ones enjoy nature and outdoors. The visitor centre and playground were particularly great and there are guided tours and the like too.
Food & Drink? - Yes - a great looking little cafe, overlooking the lake. I didn't notice the prices but looked like the perfect stop for a cup of tea and a cake. More information on the website.
What to take - A picnic....there are picnic stations dotted around in great places all around. Bikes - perfect cycling tracks, no matter what your age.

What will we do differently next time?...
We'll be taking our bikes and our cool-pack full of a nice big picnic!
We'll also be exploring more of the Preston Millenium Wheel cycle network and taking advantage of the sneaky parking tricks ;)



  1. What a pretty place to visit! And I am all about the daytrip--especially on a shoestring :) I am excited to see where you take us next!

    1. Hey! Yeh it was a lovely little place to visit - i'm interested to go back and see the woods changing over Winter & next spring - and, like I say, to get our bikes running again and explore more. Day trips are the future! ;) x


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