What is Preston really like?

I've lived in Preston all my life and whenever I travel to other places in the UK, the reaction I get when I say where I'm from is either 'Where's that?' or 'Oh dear, well somebody has to be!' However, Preston is a very underestimated place. It is possible to enjoy a good lifestyle standard without it costing an arm and a leg.

Preston is a dynamic city and things are changing here! The City Council has recently implemented a project known as the 'Preston Model' which has received national and international acclaim. The aim of the scheme is to keep local investment by large employers and partners (including UCLan) within the City, by procuring goods and services to local businesses.

Preston City Council has recently renovated the outdoor Victorian Market hall and work continues to rebuild the site of the indoor market next door, as the old indoor market is being demolished. The City's central entertainment complex, the Guild Hall contains a large concert hall, the Charter Theatre, Level – a bowling alley and bar, plus the cocktail bar 'Venue', restaurants and cafes. Friargate is the street which connects the university to the City centre and there are many pubs and restaurants along its length, including Plau. This is a recently opened historic pub, following an extensive renovation, during which a forgotten vaulted back room and water well were discovered. Upstairs is a restaurant that's worth visiting for good food and the amazing ceiling space. Across the road is 'The Northern Way', which was also recently re-opened following renovation.

Preston is blessed with some really stunning outdoor spaces and boasts several parks, including Moor Park, Haslam Park and Ashton Park.

"The gem is Avenham and Miller Park. Located very close to the City Centre, the park is bordered on its south side by the River Ribble. It contains a Japanese Garden, a Victorian promenade, terraces and water fountain and the Pavilion Cafe."

Heather, Psychology student

It is at the Pavilion Cafe where the official start and end of The Guild Wheel is – a 21 mile circular cycling and walking route around Preston. It is here that I would like to tell you about my dad, Mike Atkins. My dad, along with Peter Ward, envisaged, designed and campaigned for the building of the Guild Wheel, which officially opened in August 2012, Preston Guild Year. Unfortunately my dad died in January 2013 and a section of the Guild Wheel was named the 'Mike Atkins Way' in his honour. I am so proud of the legacy he left the City of Preston and it's a brilliant resource for getting out and about.

Heading out of Preston there are some really lovely outdoor spots. You may have already heard of the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales, but I would like to tell you about some areas of countryside closer to home. To the north is the Forest of Bowland - an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, as well as Beacon Fell, Brock Bottoms, Fairsnape Fell and Parlick. To the south of Preston is Cuerden Valley Park and the often forgotten fells of the West Pennine Moors and the village of Rivington. To the West is the Lancashire coastline, including Lytham St Annes, Blackpool and Fleetwood. The Lancashire countryside awaits!