This is one of the 20 stages of the GM Ringway – the new walking trail for Greater Manchester. Stage 16 connects Wigan and Leigh town centres via England’s newest National Nature Reserve. The reserve – officially, the ‘Flashes of Wigan and Leigh’ – was formally designated in October 2022 in recognition of the area’s natural beauty and immense ecological importance.
After extended periods of rain, you are advised to use the diversion shown between the 5 and 6-mile point to avoid a waterlogged area. This detour is shown on the Plotaroute map.
The route can be followed, downloaded or printed using the mobile-friendly Plotaroute site. To use Plotaroute on your phone’s browser, simply click the map. Then, when you’re ready to start walking, click the tracker icon (bottom right) to show your position as you follow the route. We recommend carrying an additional power source and/or map when following online routes on your phone.
Feedback on the route
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– Wigan’s historic industrial sites including Trencherfield Mill and the site of Wigan Pier, made famous by George Orwell
– The Leigh Branch of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, including a delightful section running between two of the largest flashes (lakes formed as a result of mining subsidence)
– Some lesser-known countryside, including the fringes of Three Sisters country park and the mixed woodland of Viridor Wood
– Lightshaw Meadows, an area of grassland that has been designated as an SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) thanks to its rich variety of flora and fauna
– Pennington Flash, nationally renowned for its birdlife, and the second-largest body of water in Greater Manchester.
Accessibility and facilities
– Cafe or pub nearby
– Dogs permitted (on a lead)
– Toilet facilities
– Transport via bus, or train
The route is almost totally level and most paths are of good quality. However, careful attention to the map is needed in places and there may well be muddy or damp sections.
Because of the varied terrain, the overall walk is not wheelchair or pushchair-friendly. However, there are level and barrier-free paths (not all of which are well-surfaced) along the canal and on the eastern and northeastern edge of Pennington Flash. We will be adding step-free and shorter walks on parts of the GM Ringway over the next few months.
Toilet facilities are available for customers at the various cafes and pubs shown on the Plotaroute map. Note that the pub shown on some maps at Dover Bridge south of Abram has been closed for some years. Accessible toilets are available at Wigan North Western station and at Pennington Flash.