Pennington Flash Nature Reserve

Welcome to a National Treasure

Pennington Flash Nature Reserve is one of the jewels in the crown of Wigan Borough and one of eight local sites comprising The Flashes of Wigan and Leigh; the only National Nature Reserve (NNR) in the whole of Greater Manchester.

Officially designated an NNR by Natural England in October 2022 in recognition of their remarkable natural beauty and immense ecological importance, these precious wetland habitats were originally and uniquely formed by the ‘flash’ flooding of former coal mining sites. Collectively they are now home to nationally significant wildlife populations including UK’s most endangered small bird, the wonderful willow tit.

A legacy of Wigan Borough’s proud industrial heritage, the Flashes are now rightly recognised as a national treasure and are a stunning example of nature in recovery.

Find out more about the Flashes of Wigan and Leigh(external link).

NOW OPEN Family adventure play area

  • Our brand new, accessible and inclusive nature-themed adventure play area is now open.
  • Inspired by its surroundings at Pennington Flash, the park includes brand new swings, climbing frames and zip lines
  • Plus a central toddler ‘lake’ featuring play equipment modelled on swans and boats.
  • View designs for play area
  • View the site map

Connecting people with nature

Connecting with nature brings huge benefits for our physical and mental wellbeing, which is why we’re passionate about providing more opportunities for people to get closer to nature and to explore the beauty of their surroundings.

Pennington Flash’s tranquil waters and surrounding marshland boast a diverse group of mammals, birds and insects, including no fewer than five RSPB red-listed birds as well as the protected water vole. More than 230 bird species have been recorded on site, including the black-faced bunting, nightingale, cattle egret, whiskered tern and Leach’s petrel.

Key habitats

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

What you’ll find at the Flash

Wigan Council is investing £2.7m into improving the experience of visitors to Pennington Flash with a new visitor information point and café, new accessible toilet facilities, improved parking, and a new adventure play area all designed to help you enjoy the perfect day out.

Visitor Information Point

For general information, car parking and golf admission/enquiries please visit our Visitor Information Point located within The Hide Coffee House.

Opening times:

  • April to September: 8am-7:30pm
  • October: 8am-6pm
  • November to March: 8am-5pm.

Tel: 01942 489848

The Hide Coffee House

Our new lakeside café is the perfect hide-out for north west nature lovers - serving fresh coffee, breakfast, lunch, cakes and snacks. Dog friendly, with indoor and outdoor seating offering views over the water.

Whether you’re on a family day out, walking your four-legged friend, or looking to escape for some well-earned ‘me time’, you’ll find a warm welcome and a wide range of tempting treats at our wildlife-themed coffee shop.

Open 7 days a week:

  • November to March: 9am - 4pm
  • April to October: 9am - 7pm.

Follow The Hide Coffee House on Facebook and Instagram

Golf course

Our 9-hole pay and play golf course is a good test for all abilities. Spread over 2739 yards of mostly flat parkland interrupted by streams and ponds which weave throughout the course, it’s a good size to practice on and develop your skills.

For more information about courses and memberships, visit Pennington Golf Club.

Other amenities and activities

A network of footpaths, cycleways and bridle paths allows visitors to enjoy the breathtaking scenery at their own pace.

Wigan Council’s Be Well leisure service stage regular co-ordinated walks which are free and open to all. Find out more at Active Outdoors - Walk.

The Flash features a number of hides and viewing areas for bird enthusiasts. Leigh Ornithological Society is your local Birding group, find out more by visiting Leigh Ornithological Society. (external link)

Horse riding and angling is also permitted in designated areas while sailing and windsurfing are available at Leigh and Lowton Sailing Club. Learn to Sail and Race at Leigh and Lowton Sailing Club.(external link)


Signposted 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.

Please note: Sat Nav users should use the postcode is WN7 3PA.


Opening times:

  • 6.30am - 7.30pm, 300+ spaces.

Parking Charge:

  • £2.50 all day pay and display.

Blue badge holders: From April 1st 2023 car parking charges will apply to blue badge holders.


Parking iconPicnic area iconRefreshments iconGolf iconFishing iconPlay areas iconToilets iconHorse riding iconBird watching icon
  • Visitor information point
  • Car parking
  • Toilets
  • Coffee house and café
  • Play area (open June 2023)
  • Picnic areas
  • 9-hole golf course
  • Extensive network of footpaths providing a range of short to medium length walks
  • Six bird hides
  • Nature walks
  • Angling (permitted on the main lake in designated areas)
  • Horse riding (along designated paths)
  • Coach parties and organised groups welcome subject to booking (make a booking enquiry by contacting us on 01942 489848).

© Wigan Council