RECENT summer sun has helped highlight the big advantage East Lancashire has over most of the rest of the country. It’s nothing to do with football, cricket, housing, shopping, or anything like that.

No, it’s the fact that wherever you live in this part of the North West you have a world of walks to be enjoyed for free. If you are fortunate enough to be in later life there’s no need to wait for a weekend either.

If you live in Blackburn many people are within easy reach of the canal and wandering the towpath westwards via Cherry Tree will take you through green countryside towards Riley Green, Wheelton and even Botany Bay alongside the M61.

Eastwards through the town isn’t quite so green but it soon opens out to lovely views and snakes through Hyndburn, offering new glimpses of places like Rishton before heading off to Hapton and Burnley.

You are never far from the railway either which makes it easy to get home again - and investing in a Senior Railcard pays off quickly.

Rail links are also handy if you head north into the Ribble Valley. You can get off at Wilpshire and head for Langho or take a train straight to Clitheroe from where there are countless countryside strolls.

We mustn’t forget the area around Darwen either with the Tower, Sunnyhurst Woods, Roddlesworth and all the moorland and reservoirs.

You only have to look at the number of ‘outdoor’ shops and stores that have sprung up to realise how many people, particularly over-60s, have got the rambling habit.

Weekends, of course, do mean a lot more folk stepping out and even extended families. The presence of children also tends to make the pace more enjoyable since there’s no pressure to break any records for speed or distance!

However popular strolling becomes the number of walks within easy reach is so enormous that it’s hard to imagine anyone will find themselves in a queue - except at the counter of a village café or the bar of a country pub. But that’s at the end (not the beginning) of your stroll .