Gravel Car Park, St Mary's Marina
Diamond Jubilee Road
St Mary's Marina
From Rufford the route crosses a branch of the Leeds Liverpool Canal and briefly heads south, with views to Parbold Hill ahead of you. Well before hitting the slopes you turn east, skirting around Mawdesly Moss, with views of the higher West Pennine Moors in the distance. You pass through the pretty village of Mawdesley and shortly afterwards reach the highest point of the route, at just 36m above sea level. Now it's a gradual run down into Croston, another lovely village with several pubs and a pretty village green at the centre. Shortly after the village you turn back to the west and onto a lovely section of very little-used lanes over flat and fertile farmland through the farming hamlet of Sollom and into Mere Brow. Here you are crossing land that was under the largest stretch of fresh water in England until Martin Mere was finally drained in the mid-19th century. Ever since then the dark, almost black, soil has been known for being very productive with crops including potatoes, carrots, sprouts, leaks and onions.
With the lanes sitting a metre or so above the fields the "big sky" views can be surprisingly sweeping for such a flat route, though this means no hiding place from the wind on breezy days! From Mere Brow you turn to the south on a busier (compared to the lanes of the last few miles) B-road to Holmeswood, where you can again take some tiny and virtually traffic free lanes to swing round to the east bringing you back to the start point at Rufford. Look out for birdlife in the final section as the route passes close by 2 important reserves at Mere Sands Wood and Martin Mere. Many songbirds can be seen and heard in spring and early summer, along with the distinctive 'Pee-wit' call of the endangered Lapwing, or Green Plover; whilst in the autumn and winter look out for great flocks of migratory birds such as swans and geese overhead.