Cuerden Valley Park is a country park located on the border of South Ribble and Chorley. It follows the path of the River Lostock from Whittle-le-Woods to Bamber Bridge. The park spans over 650 acres, offering visitors a vast expanse of natural beauty to explore and enjoy.
The park is managed by Cuerden Valley Park Trust (CVPT). CVPT is an independent registered charity which receives no funding from local authorities.
The park offers a variety of landscapes and attractions, including woodland, meadows, farmland, open grassland, picnic areas, a lake, ponds, and formal gardens.
The northern section, originally the estate of Cuerden Hall, is fascinating. Restoration projects have restored original features such as the Walled Orchard and the American Garden and Pinetum. Cuerden Hall is now a private home.
Cuerden Valley Park is a vibrant ecosystem, teeming with diverse wildlife throughout the year. Each season brings unique highlights, making the park a dynamic and ever-changing environment.
In the spring, the woods come alive with a carpet of bluebells. Summer sees the River Lostock bustling with dragonflies and damselflies while the woods are filled with the songs of visiting birds.
Cuerden Lake is a reservoir constructed in the latter half of the 19th century to provide a water supply for Cuerden Hall and the estate. The reservoir is surrounded by woodland and is very picturesque.
Lower Kem Mill
Lower Kem Mill, located at the park’s southern end, is steeped in industrial history. The mill, primarily used for bleaching and dyeing, was established in the nineteenth century.
In 1914, a fire broke out at Kem Mill, causing extensive damage and leading to the closure of the business.
Today, the ruins of Kem Mill stand as a reminder of Lancashire’s rich industrial history. Visitors can explore these ruins, with information boards available to better understand the site’s past.
The site is close to the park’s Kem Mill Car Park. It is on Preston Road (A6) in Whittle-le-Woods, adjacent to Whittle-le-Woods Church of England Primary School (postcode PR6 7PS).
The park has various woodland habitats, including native and non-native tree species. These woodlands provide a haven for wildlife and are a great place for birdwatching.
The park’s woodlands are managed to promote biodiversity, with ongoing conservation work including tree planting, coppicing, and the creation of deadwood habitats for insects.
The park is popular with walkers and boasts more than ten miles of paths. The main footpath is tarmacked and runs the length of the park. It forms part of the National Cycle Route 55, the cycling trail linking Preston to Ironbridge in Shropshire.
A video of our walk along the main path can be found below.
Cuerden Valley Park was once part of the Cuerden Hall estate. Curden Hall was built in 1717 and was a family home until the start of the 20th century. Over this time, the hall underwent significant remodelling and extensions, particularly in the 18th and 19th centuries.
During the First World War, the hall was an infirmary for troops. In the Second World War, it was used as a British Army education centre.
In 1977 the Lancashire Development Corporation took over the building. The associated estate was subsequently developed into Cuerden Valley Park.
From 1985, Cuerden Hall was a Sue Ryder specialist neurological care centre. In 2020 the care centre relocated to Preston. The building was sold to Manchester businessman Colin Shenton for conversion to his family home.
Amenities – Visitor Centre and Cuerden View Cafe
The Visitor Centre and Cafe are central to the park’s visitor experience, providing essential amenities and a welcoming space to relax and refuel.
The Visitor Centre is a hub of information and services for those exploring the park. The friendly staff are always on hand to answer questions and provide recommendations. The building also houses toilet facilities, making it a convenient stop before or after your park adventures.
The Visitor Centre is an eco-friendly building built using sustainable materials and methods. The building used recycled tyres for the foundation, timber frame, straw bales infill for the walls, sheep’s wool insulation, lime plaster walls, and shingles for the roof.
Cuerden View Cafe
The Cuerden View Cafe is a delightful spot to enjoy a meal or a quick snack in the Visitor Centre. The cafe serves freshly prepared local produce, including its own branded coffee.
One of the cafe’s highlights is its stunning view across the valley. You can take in the countryside during your meal, making your dining experience special.
The park is a vibrant and active community hub that hosts various organised events throughout the year. These events cater to multiple interests and age groups.
While the specific events can vary from year to year, they often include:
- Nature Walks and Talks: These guided walks are led by experts who share their knowledge about the local flora, fauna, and the park’s diverse ecosystems.
- Outdoor Workshops: The park often hosts workshops offering hands-on learning experiences in the great outdoors.
- Children’s Activities: The park hosts a busy programme of events to keep the little ones engaged and entertained.
- Conservation Volunteering: Regular volunteering events are held where community members can get involved in conservation work, such as tree planting, habitat restoration, and litter picking.
- Special Events: The park hosts special events like art exhibitions, music concerts, and food and drink festivals.
For the most up-to-date information on upcoming events, visit the park’s official Facebook page. The page details event dates, times, locations, and costs.
Participating in these events is a great way to enjoy the park and become part of its vibrant community.
The Barn – Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester, and North Merseyside
The Barn is the headquarters of the Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester, and North Merseyside. It is located near Cuerden Hall. The Wildlife Trust is the largest nature conservation body in the region, managing over 40 nature reserves, including nearby Brockholes.
The organisation works tirelessly to lobby the government, protect endangered species, and restore wild places in the region. They have also built eco-buildings, including the Brockholes floating visitor centre, to demonstrate sustainable living.
The Barn offers quality facilities, including classrooms, board rooms, and flexible room layouts, making it an ideal location for meetings, workshops, and educational programs. It has full disabled access and amenities, ensuring it is accessible to all. Catering and refreshments are available, and equipment can be hired for events or meetings.
Friends of Cuerden Valley Park
The Friends of Cuerden Valley Park is a group of volunteers who work to improve the park for the local community. Further information about the group can be found on their Facebook page.
Cuerden Valley Park lies between Bamber Bridge, Chorley, and Leyland. The park is near three major motorways, making it easily accessible from all areas of North West England.
Getting There by Car
The M6 bounds the park to the east, the M61 to the west, and the M65 to the north.
The main car park and visitor centre are just off the A49, close to Junction 29 of the M6 motorway and Junction 1 of the M65 motorway. The park offers visitors a choice of places to park:
- Wigan Road Car Park: This car park is on Wigan Road (A49), between the M6 and M65 motorway bridges.
- Berkeley Drive Car Park: Situated on Berkeley Drive, off Shady Lane. The main car park is close to The Barn (postcode PR5 6BY) and most attractions (Visitor Centre, Cuerden Lake etc.).
- Town Brow Car Park: This car park is located on Town Brow (B256) opposite Clayton-le-Woods Church of England Primary School (postcode PR6 7EU).
- Kem Mill Car Park: Located at the southern end of the park on Preston Road (A6) in Whittle-le-Woods. Next to the Whittle-le-Woods Church of England Primary School (postcode PR6 7PS).
The main car park is the one on Berkeley Drive. This car is close to the visitor centre, cafe, and lake.
Parking charges apply every day and at all times. There is no admission fee to enter the park. The money raised from parking fees is the park’s primary source of income.
Please note that parking charges apply 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. The money raised from parking fees is the main source of income for the Cuerden Valley Park Trust.
Getting There by Train
The closest train station, Bamber Bridge, is approximately three-quarters of a mile from the park’s northern end. The station lies on the East Lancashire Line, which connects Preston and Blackburn.
Getting There by Bus
There is no direct bus service to the park. The 109 bus service runs between Chorley and Preston. The bus stops on the A49, around ½ mile from the Berkeley Drive entrance.
Other Attractions near Cuerden Valley Park
If you’re planning a visit to the park, you should also check out some of the other attractions in the area.
The British Commercial Vehicle Museum in Leyland is a treasure trove for automobile enthusiasts. The museum showcases the history of British road transport with a collection of vintage vehicles, including buses, trucks, and fire engines.
Worden Park is a beautiful green space in Leyland. The park features a miniature railway, a maze, formal gardens, and a craft centre. It’s a great place for a family day out.
Hoghton Tower is a fortified manor house steeped in history. Visitors can take a guided tour and learn about its past. The attraction hosts regular events, including farmers’ markets and craft fairs.
Brockholes is a nature reserve managed by the Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester, and North Merseyside. The reserve is known for its birdlife and offers walking trails and a floating visitor centre.
Astley Hall is a museum housed in a Grade I listed historic house. The hall is set within beautiful parkland and features stunning plasterwork ceilings and period furniture.
Samlesbury Hall is a historic hall dating back to the 14th century. It is open to the public, and entry is completely free.