Book review: Around Preston by David Hindle

If the winter weather traps you indoors this Christmas, why not take a virtual trip to the amazing countryside surrounding Preston?

Tuesday, 18th December 2012, 9:00 am

Around Preston is a Lancashire extravaganza published to commemorate the city’s historic 2012 Guild year and written by seasoned historian and naturalist David Hindle.

Here he celebrates Lancashire’s wealth of history and beauty as he takes his readers on a gentle series of walks into specially selected parts of the county, all easily reached from Preston.

Illustrated throughout with stunning photographs of both the landscape and wildlife, this is a book to treasure with its overview of local history and a fascinating kaleidoscope of local landmarks, including picturesque villages, woodlands and buildings alongside birds, mammals and the local flora and fauna.

The wide variety of walks take readers from Preston to Red Scar Wood, Hoghton Tower, Clitheroe, the Bleasdale Circle, the outstanding Forest of Bowland, on a special Guild themed walk around the city and many other locations with a rich history.

Hindle, president of Preston Historical Society, is a rare combination of broadcaster, naturalist and local historian and his book features interesting facts and figures about Lancashire’s heritage including Preston’s journey from leading 19th century manufacturing town to 21st century city.

The satanic mills might have almost completely disappeared now, allowing nature to precariously return to sites once blighted by industry but threats to our landscape still remain from science, modern agriculture and even well-intentioned heritage schemes.

Included in these walks is a visit to the conservation area around Grimsargh wetlands which comprises three redundant reservoirs and is vitally important for its breeding birds and other wildlife.

Another walk takes us in the footsteps of Cromwell, past Red Scar Wood on the banks of the River Ribble and to the site of the Battle of Preston which took place on August 17, 1648.

Red Scar Wood was recognised as a scene of unrivalled beauty by historian Charles Hardwick who published his History of the Borough of Preston and its Environs in 1857. Hardwick was also a skilful amateur artist and described how the trees there ‘cling tenaciously to the crumbling earth.’

These carefully selected walks are ideal for those who wish to escape either alone or with their friends and families to areas off the beaten track.

The use of public transport provides a greater freedom to complete linear walks and most are served by local bus services that penetrate the Bowland countryside via Whitewell and the Hodder Valley to Slaidburn and beyond.

All walks are easy unless stated otherwise and directions, approximate distances and duration are also shown, although walkers are advised to use Ordnance Survey maps as well.

It’s all here... a tour of the county’s heritage and natural history, whether that’s by Shanks’s pony or without leaving the comfort of home!

(Palatine Books, paperback, £14.99)