Rufford to Preston – 13.6 miles (512.3 total)
The weather today was dry and fairly sunny but there was an icy cold, easterly wind blowing the whole time. The terrain around us was flat for miles in every direction so we felt the full force of the wind for most of our walk. I started, in the sunshine, walking in shirt sleeves, but soon realised I was going to freeze, quickly putting my jacket on.
Pete was happy to do the whole of today’s planned walk all the way to Preston. We continued where we left off yesterday, following the Rufford Branch of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal until it ended after about 2 miles. Our route then took us along the bank of the River Douglas alternating with a little roadwalking. We then joined the Ribble Way which was our path for the rest of the day.
At 7 miles in to the walk we stopped for a refreshment at The Dolphin Inn near Longton. 12.30 on a Sunday, almost in the middle of nowhere and it was packed! We’ve come across this before in England, it’s just a routine Sunday tradition: families, friends, cyclists… and 2 walkers. We didn’t have anything to eat but lots of the customers did. The Celtic v Rangers football match was on the big screen making us envious of the beautiful weather being enjoyed back home. Nobody seemed to be watching it – only us! After a short respite we resumed our walk.
Soon after our restart we left the River Douglas to now shadow the River Ribble for the remainder of the walk into Preston. It was virtually all level walking on a flood embankment, the full force of the cold wind reminding us how exposed we were.
We arrived in Preston to the sound of the steam engine for the Ribble Steam Railway constantly tooting its horn, then worked our way to the centre – and our hotel – before 4pm.
Tomorrow, we hope to be joined by Dave C. for the next 2 days, walking, first to Garstang, then to Lancaster.
Whisper it quietly… I edged past the 500 mile mark today. It all feels a bit surreal.