Pennington Flash Local Nature Reserve (LNR)

Pennington Flash lakePennington Flashes (LNR) is part of an impressive country park. The lake and surrounding marshland are home to a diverse group of mammals, birds and insects, including 5 RSPB red listed birds and the protected water vole.

Its importance for birds is recognised nationally, with over 230 species recorded on site, including the black-faced bunting, nightingale, cattle egret, whiskered tern and Leach’s petrel. 

The term ‘Flashes’ refers to the lakes on the site which were formed over time as a result of the mining subsidence. They are a legacy of Wigan Borough’s industrial heritage and those at Pennington Flash are a stunning example of how the industrial past has developed a beautiful location for wildlife.

Key habitats

  • Open water
  • Fen
  • Reed bed
  • Scrub
  • Woodland

Pennington Flash site development

New visitor centre and cafe


Pennington Flash site development

New visitor centre and cafe

Map of new adventure play area


Pennington Flash site development

Map of new adventure play area

Councillors and council staff


Pennington Flash site development

Councillors and council staff

Following consultation with residents, exciting plans to improve the visitor facilities at Pennington Flash Nature Reserve in Leigh are underway. This £1.6m makeover includes:

  • A new visitor centre and café with internal and external seating areas
  • A woodland play area and improved toilet and parking facilities
  • A package of improvement works as part of the second phase of the £5m Believe in Leigh programme.

The plans for Pennington Flash Nature Reserve will go to planning committee in spring / summer. If approved, work will begin in autumn - in time for the Women’s Euro Championships which arrive at Leigh Sports Village in summer 2022, giving everyone a fantastic visitor destination to host exciting events connected to the tournaments and future events at the nature reserve for residents to enjoy.

Pennington Flash Nature Reserve - Play development

Designs for a new play area at Pennington Flash Nature Reserve are now available for members of the public to review and have their say.

The exciting proposals are part of a £2.7m makeover of the facilities at the local beauty spot, which will also include a new visitor centre and café.

Plans for the inclusive nature-themed adventure play area include brand new swings, climbing frames and zip lines – plus a central Toddler ‘Lake’ featuring play equipment modelled on swans and boats.

Subject to planning approval, work on the play area is expected to begin early in 2023 with a view to completion in the spring.

Please share your comments and thoughts through the feedback form.

The consultation ends on 12th August 2022.

Amenities and activities

As well as the flash itself, a 70 hectare lake, visitors can enjoy walks, cycle rides and bridle paths, bird watching in the nature reserve and a children’s play area. The main nature reserve features a number of hides and viewing areas for bird enthusiasts and there is a network of paths around the lake enabling visitors to enjoy at leisure the breath-taking scenery.

For those who enjoy sport, a challenging nine hole pay and play golf course is located on site. Horse riding and angling is also permitted in designated areas and sailing and windsurfing are available at Leigh and Lowton Sailing Club. The children’s play area, picnic areas and informal recreation areas are ideal for families.

Be Well leisure services have actively encouraged community usage of the site and the easy access and links with local rights of way is seen as a positive benefit to any future plans.


Along with its rich biodiversity, the reserve is valued as a local amenity and resource for education and awareness, making it an area of high importance.

Conservation plans include combating the dense woodland cover that has developed and is now having a negative impact on some of the more fragile wetland habitats. This will be addressed through habitat work to strategically remove the areas of planted woodland that have little biodiversity value.

Jubilee Legacy Walks

To celebrate the Queen's Jubilee Celebrations of 2012, a series of 15 Legacy Walks were developed ranging from 1 to 9 miles. Each walk in Wigan Borough's green space is recognised by Silver, Gold and Diamond accreditation.


Sign posted from the A580 East Lancs Road. Follow the signs and turn onto the A579 Atherleigh Way then left onto the A572 St Helens Road. The main entrance is situated on St Helens Road opposite Leigh Fire Station. For sat nav users the postcode is WN7 3PA.


Parking iconPicnic area iconRefreshments iconGolf iconFishing iconPlay areas iconToilets iconHorse riding iconBird watching icon

The main car park is pay and display with parking for more than 200 cars. The visitor centre has toilets and an information point.

  • Car parking
    • Open 6am - 8pm. The parking charge is currently £1.50 all day, payable via pay and display machines by card only (contactless). Due to COVID-19 restrictions, we are currently unable to accept cash payments
    • Blue badge holders are exempt from the charges if parked in designated spaces and displaying your valid blue badge.
  • Toilets
  • Catering
  • Picnic area
  • Golf
  • Footpaths
  • Play area
  • Hides and nature walks
  • Fishing
  • Horse riding
  • Catering on most days from a mobile catering unit offering hot and cold light refreshments
  • Nine hole golf course
  • Extensive network of footpaths providing a range of short to medium length walks
  • Nature reserve areas and 6 bird hides
  • Play area
  • Picnic areas
  • Angling is allowed on the main lake from certain banks
  • Horse riding is permitted along designate paths
  • Coach parties and organised groups welcome subject to booking.

© Wigan Council