Wigan Flashes Nature Reserve (part of the Flashes of Wigan and Leigh NNR)

Wigan FlashesWigan Flashes is a highlight of any visit to Greenheart. The area offers its surrounding communities countryside on their doorstep, enabling residents and visitors to enjoy rich wildlife and diverse habitats within easy reach of Wigan’s town centre.

There are eight shallow wetlands or ‘Flashes’ in the area formed as a result of mining subsidence. Native tree species were planted as part of a reclamation scheme that began 40 years ago. Over the years, and with careful maintenance, the industrial landscape has developed forming a mixture of beautiful habitats including open water, reedbeds and mossland.

Today the area has an abundance of wildlife, including water vole, willow tit (one of five RSPB red listed birds in the area) and the very rare and shy bittern. The ease of access, proximity to housing and links with local rights of way provides a much valued community resource.

Key habitats

  • Open water
  • Swamp
  • Scrub
  • Woodland

Amenities and activities

Wigan Flashes features six bird hide screens for enthusiasts. There are 10 km of paths around the site offering a range of short to medium length walks, where you can enjoy the peace and quiet of the countryside. There are also regular activities arranged on site such as Health Walks.


The area’s rich biodiversity and value as a local amenity and resource for education and awareness makes it an important area for protection.

Wigan Council, Lancashire Wildlife Trust and the established Wigan Flashes Conservation and Community Group are continuing to work in partnership to ensure the area develops as one of the most important wildlife sites in the North West.

Education and group visits

As the principal provider of outdoor education within Wigan Borough, the Be Well Outdoor Education Team (external link) delivers activities for schools, colleges and other educational agencies at Scotmans Flash. Some examples of accredited programmes include: Kayaking, sailing, climbing, archery, windsurfing and cycling. Support programmes to encourage younger children to explore the water and surrounding areas in a safe way include: bell boating, pond dipping, and lessons on understanding the water cycle.

One day water festivals are held at Scotmans Flash which offer the chance to try out activities such as canoeing or dragon boating.


Leaving the M6 at J25, take a left at the roundabout heading north on the A49. At the second set of traffic lights turn right onto Poolstock Lane (B5238). Continue along Poolstock Lane for around 1km, lookout for the Greenheart Wigan Flashes car park sign in the green space opposite Worsley Mesnes. Drive on your left and take the next right down the small cobbled street into the car park. From here there is an access path up onto the old railway embankment and into the Flashes. View on Google Maps (external link).


Parking iconPicnic area iconWatersports iconWalking iconBird watching icon
  • Extensive nature reserve with car parking
  • Car park available off Poolstock Lane with space for around 30 cars
  • Picnic area
  • Footpaths
  • Hides
  • Nature walks and sailing.

© Wigan Council