Situated in Leigh, around 6 miles south-east of Wigan, Pennington Flash is a popular country park and nature reserve. At its centre is a 70-hectare lake (the ‘Flash’), formed as a result of mining subsidence and flooding.
The park is famous for its wildlife and is one of the premier bird watching spots in the region and over 200 species of bird have been spotted here. In 1994 the UK’s first ever Black-faced Bunting was spotted here and attracted more than 6,000 birdwatchers from all over the country.
There are eight birdwatching hides around Pennington Flash, mainly around the smaller lakes at the northern end of the park. One of the best is the Tom Edmondson Hide. It’s named after a local man, instrumental in the transformation of the area from a wasteland into a country park.
However, you don’t have to be a birdwatcher to appreciate Pennington Flash. We visited on a clear October day and the park was very busy. Most visitors were families enjoying the attractions that Pennington Flash offers.
Facilities include 9-hole golf course, children’s play area, picnic area, toilets, and information centre. Rangers are present throughout the year to provide information and advice. There’s often a mobile café and ice cream van parked up near the entrance.
The Leeds and Liverpool Canal runs along the northern edge of the park. Visit this area of the park and you’ll see some great sculptures by Thompson Dagnall; Unlock and Greenheart-Northern Soul. It’s possible to walk east along the towpath into Leigh town centre. Walking west would (eventually) take you to Wigan Pier.
While we were visiting the park we took a walk around Pennington Flash. It’s an easy route that most people will have no difficulty completing. Further information, a route map, and photographs can be found here.
Pennington Flash is also the base of the Leigh and Lowton Sailing Club.
The main entrance is situated just off A572, opposite the Robin Hood pub.
To reach the park by car, you should exit the M6 motorway at Junction 23 and follow the A580 (East Lancashire Road) towards Manchester. After 4 miles take the A579 and follow the brown tourist signs for Pennington Flash. Owners of satellite navigation systems should note that the postcode for Pennington Flash is WN7 3PA.
There’s a pay-and-display car park on the north eastern shore of the Flash, near the playgrounds and most of the birdwatching hides. There’s a free car park close to the main entrance if you don’t mind a short walk.
Buses to Pennington Flash include the Leigh-Lowton circular services (590) and the 10 service from Wigan to Leigh.
There are no train stations within walking distance of Pennington Flash. One option for getting there by rail would be to take a train to either Wigan Wallgate or Wigan North Western and then get the Wigan to Leigh bus (10 – stops at Pennington Flash). Bryn Train Station is also on this bus route.