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Lightshaw Meadows Part of the Flashes National Nature Reserve


Lightshaw Meadows is a central site in the clusters of sites that is part of the Flashes of Wigan and Leigh National Nature Reserve (NNR). Lightshaw Meadows is an area of open countryside and a beautiful mosaic of wetlands located in the heart of Abram. The land has been created over many years from mining subsidence.

Lightshaw Meadows covers an area of 18 hectares, 13 hectares of which has been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).  

Wildlife highlights include yellow wagtail, lapwing, willow tit and other creatures such as bats, water voles...

Holcroft Moss (by permit only)

Holcroft Moss is a part of the Special Area for Conservation, internationally important Manchester Mosses designated lowland raised bog and is thought to be the only known example in the immediate area that has never been cut for peat. 

Unfortunately, the M62 and commercial peat extraction in the vicinity has lowered the water table, and this has subsequently damaged the hydrology of Holcroft Moss. The Cheshire Wildlife Trust have created a perimeter barrier through the use of piling. Conservation grazing by Hebridean sheep helps control shrub and purple moor grass. 


Bickershaw Country Park - Part of the Flashes National Nature Reserve


Bickershaw Country Park is one of the clusters of sites that is part of the Flashes of Wigan and Leigh National Nature Reserve, located between Bickershaw village and Westleigh on the former Bickershaw Colliery. It is a 247-hectare haven for wildlife, comprising of extensive grasslands, woodlands, and scrubland.

Boasting 8 km of surfaced footpaths, with an additional 7km of unsurfaced paths, it has a number of large water bodies including “slow the flow” meandering wetland areas devoted to natural flood alleviation to local properties.  

Wildlife highlights include...

Pennington Flash - Part of the Flashes National Nature Reserve

Pennington Flash is the most southerly of the clusters of sites that is part of the Flashes of Wigan and Leigh National Nature Reserve (NNR). Pennington Flash is an iconic wildlife site for the people of Leigh, with 200 hectares of open water surrounded by fen, reedbed, scrub and woodland. Like much of Wigan and Leigh the reserve was formed as a result of coal mining subsidence.

Over 230 species of bird have been recorded including with black-faced bunting, nightingale, cattle egret, whiskered tern and Leach’s petral. Leigh Ornithological Society...

Low Hall - Part of the Flashes National Nature Reserve

Low Hall is a well-loved smaller site that is part of the Flashes of Wigan and Leigh National Nature Reserve (NNR). It is particularly well served with art trails, sculptures and benches. Known locally as “Sammy’s Flood” it comprises of lots of hidden surprises including open water, swamp, scrub and woodland.

Wildlife highlights include the rare white letter hairstreak butterfly (which specialises on elm trees) and the grizzled skipper, which is more typical of a southern chalklands than a northern urban nature reserve. You can also see kingfisher, water rail, dragonflies and...

Amberswood - Part of the Flashes National Nature Reserve

Amberwood is the most north easterly of the clusters of sites that is part of the Flashes of Wigan and Leigh National Nature Reserve (NNR). It a 160-hectare wetland mosaic consisting of a lake and a series of smaller ponds and lowland raised bog, linked by ditches and streams and interspersed with species-rich grassland and woodland.

It formed after open cast coal mining and wildlife highlights includes the elusive water vole which takes advantage of the ditch network. It is a great strong hold for amphibians with frogs, toads and common newts and new ponds have been created to...

Little Woolden Moss

Little Woolden Moss is a 115-hectare site which showcases a “restoration reversal” of peat extraction. This has involved rewetting the bog and introducing cotton grasses, sphagnums and heathers to the outlying areas. The late May to July cotton grass specular is something to behold. Nowadays brown hares are regularly running across the vista with hobbies flying overhead. Curlews successfully rear their young whilst dragonflies dart over the wetlands. There is also a chance to view archaeology with the millennia old bog oaks.

To say this place has been inspiration to many would be an...

Woolston Eyes (by appointment only)

The Woolston Eyes Conservation Group, a voluntary organisation formed in 1979, manages the rich and varied wildlife of the deposit grounds with the agreement of the Manchester Ship Canal Company, owners of the land.

The four beds at Woolston Deposit Grounds are designated as internationally important Special Area for Conservation (SAC) and are managed as a nature reserve. Parts of the site are still in use to accommodate dredging from the Manchester Ship Canal.

Woolston Eyes is home to a variety of wetland habitats, including wet...

New Moss Wood

Within walking distance of Irlam Train Station, The Station Irlam – Train Station, Restaurant, Bar & Events and heritage museum, New Moss Wood began life as a bog, was drained, became a place for the Victorian night soil of Manchester, a post-war vegetable farm, a woodland planted in 1998/99 and in 2020 had a rewetting programme with a mini moss created.

A metal art gateway welcomes you and was designed by the children of Cadishead Primary school. On site there are a few hidden adventure balance beams, a poetry podcast trail...

Whitehead Hall Meadows

Whitehead Hall Meadows boasts 5.58 hectares of wetland meadows, outlying wooded areas and a central pond near to the iconic Lancashire Mining Museum [hyperlink LANCASHIRE MINING MUSEUM – At Astley Green]

Whitehead Hall Meadows was part of Astley Colliery and was used as a recreation area for the villagers, however during World War Two it accommodated the colliery spoil. Since then wetland, woodlands and grasslands have developed to form valuable wildlife habitats. Orchids thrive here including northern marsh, southern marsh, leopard...

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...

Three Sisters part of the Flashes National Nature Reserve

Three Sisters is a family-friendly visitors attraction where the Carbon Landscape story is brought to life.

Three Sisters Access for all comprises 3km wheelchair accessible paths co-produced with local groups with additional needs.

The Easter Egg Treasure Hunt is always a highlight with egg rolling down Arena Hill, one of the former coal spoil heaps.

A family-friendly site to enjoy:

  • Ducks on the lake, birds at the feeding station and dragonflies over the wetlands.
  • Wildlife rubbings trail [hyperlink
  • ...

Gorse Covert Mounds

This suburban site is a delightful mosaic of mixed woodland, meadows, peat bog and ponds. It supports an amazing variety of plants and wildlife. Its network of accessible paths allows you to enjoy woodland and waterside walks, and some stunning views from Pestfurlong Hill. On a clear day you can see as far as the West Pennine Moors. 

Gorse Covert Mounds is also home to Pestfurlong Moss, a remnant of the Manchester Mosses that once covered the whole area.  This ecologically important habitat is a Lowland Raised Peat Bog, which is home to a variety of Sphagnum Mosses, plants such as...

Paddington Meadows

One of the few remaining water meadows, Paddington Meadows also contains some of the oldest examples of hawthorn hedge boundaries in Cheshire.  Paddington Meadows is part of the New Cut Trail [hyperlink New Cut heritage and ecology trail | warrington.gov.uk] and provides a clear stepping stone to the internationally important Woolston Eyes which is directly across the River Mersey. The fields were gifted to Warrington Council in 1995 on the condition that they were managed as a nature reserve. 


Rixton Clay Pits

Once a brick clay quarry, Rixton Claypits [hyperlink Rixton Claypits local nature reserve | warrington.gov.uk] is thriving with wildlife and designated as internationally important with a Special Area for Conservation (SAC). This ex-industrial nature reserve boasts breeding great crested newts, known fondly as “Newtopia” within the ponds network and rich wildflowers in this undulating landscape. Explore the quiet tranquillity and feed your curiosity with information boards, viewing platforms, bridges and...

Risley Moss

Risley Moss has a varied industrial history, having been extracted for peat and used as an ammunition factory. It boasts a visitor centre with toilets, disability access, several trails, including the Boggart Sculpture Trail and the celebrated boardwalk over the mini-moss.

This is an internationally important Special Area for Conservation (SAC) as part of the Manchester Mosses and is perfect for spotting wildlife. Reptiles, dragonflies and a variety of birds love it here. Join the Warrington ranger team on guided walks or...