Wigan Flashes - Part of the Flashes National Nature Reserve

Explore Wigan Flashes - Part of the Flashes National Nature Reserve 

Wigan Flashes is the most north westerly of the clusters of sites that is part of the Flashes of Wigan and Leigh National Nature Reserve (NNR). It hosts 10km of paths and a chance to explore on the Leeds Liverpool Canal (Leigh Branch) running through the site.

Wigan Flashes boasts a mosaic of wetland habitats proving the perfect place for open water, reedbeds, wildflower meadows and woodland trails. Parts of Ince Moss has Site for Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) status. Reedbeds hide rare wildlife including the skulking water rail who squeals like a piglet, the beautifully camouflaged booming bittern and you can listen for the rather unexpected explosive call of the cettis warbler.

June is a great time to spot northern marsh orchids and bee orchids on the meadows close to Turners Flash. The jewel in the crown is the nationally rare, but locally abundant, willow tit with its preference for tumble down wet woodland. A herd of roe deer can often be spotted behind the trees.

Learn about the Fenscape [hyperlink to success stories Fenscape] and national innovation in reedbed and wetland improvements.  

Once there was Ince Moss Colliery, railways and Westwood power station with their legacy of spoil and ash mountains and deep mine collapse. The heritage of the site is detailed by Dr Mark Champion and Pat Rigg. [hyperlink to History of Wigan Flashes | Carbon Landscapes] The natural recolonisation and the restoration programme has enabled the Flashes to transform to a wildlife haven. Today Pearsons, Scotmans, Turners, Ochre Flash and Bryn Marsh prove unrecognisable from their industrial past. A stone carvings trail [hyperlink Stone Carvings | Carbon Landscapes]  around Ochre Flash celebrates this.

The site is part of Wigan Greenheart and owned by Wigan Council, managed by Lancashire Wildlife Trust and has an active Friends group: the Wigan Flashes Conservation and Community Group. Additionally, Scotmans Flash hosts a Sailing Club.

Wigan Flashes Parking via Worsley Mesnes - Poolstock Lane (B5238), Wigan. Nearest postcode WN3 5EA.

Wigan Flashes via Wellen Road – parking for up to 4 vehicles near to Hawkley Hall High School, Wellham Rd off Carr Lane, Wigan WN3 5PA.


Useful info 

The sailing club based on Scotmans Flash offers a variety of activities including kayaking, sailing, climbing, archery and windsurfing supported by Inspiring Healthy Lifestyles. There are cycle routes across the site and plenty of footpaths for walking, with circular routes and links to other sites in Wigan. Dogs are welcome but must be kept under control. On road parking is available at most entrances but is limited. 


Wellham Road, WN3 5PA. 

Related projects 


Family activities


Picnic tables