Wigan Green Belt Walk – 24th November
Following the success of our October walk from Sale to East Didsbury, Dr Andrew Read (creator of the Greater Manchester Ringway long-distance trail) is leading a second walk for CPRE Lancashire – this time, a circular walk in Wigan.
This moderate circular walk from Wigan town centre includes heritage sites, a dramatic flight of locks on the Leeds-Liverpool Canal, and a gentle descent through colourful woodland into the valley of the River Douglas. Approximately half of the walk explores the greenbelt of Wigan borough, which has the highest proportion of green space of any metropolitan borough in the country! generally good, though there are muddy patches and puddles in places, as well as short flights of steps in a couple of places.
Setting off from Wigan North Western station at 11.00am, we proceed to Trencherfield Mill at 11.10am and collect any walkers starting from there. After joining the canal near the famous Wigan Pier, we head east along the canal, soon ascending steadily past the unique flight of 21 locks. These raise the canal by 200 feet (60 metres) in a distance of only two miles. At Top Lock, we break for 30 minutes or so, giving walkers a chance to eat their packed lunch and maybe grab a drink at the adjoining Kirkless Hall Inn. NB. The pub accepts cash only, so it is important to withdraw some cash before starting the walk.
After our break, we veer left with the canal on a very pretty stretch through open countryside with wide views. The autumn colours are absolutely spectacular at this time of year. On reaching the bridge within Haigh Woodland Park, we leave the canal for a lovely descent along the part of the new GM Ringway long-distance trail. This takes us through the wooded Haigh Lower Plantations on very well-made paths. The final part of this section keeps us by the waterside all the way to Wigan town centre for the short stroll along Standishgate and Wallgate back to the start. Expected finish time 2.30 pm or so. Those who wish to can celebrate the end of the walk with a drink and maybe food in a local eatery or pub.
Length: 6.1 miles / 9.9 km
Difficulty: Moderate – mainly good paths with occasionally muddy sections and puddles; there is a fairly long but gentle ascent for about 2 miles up in the first half of the walk. Unfortunately, the quality of the paths in places and barriers along the towpath mean that the walk is unsuitable for wheelchairs; the route is a good one for families for children, though care will need to be taken near the canal. The route could probably be managed by those with all-terrain-style pushchairs who are used to mixed terrain, gentle gradients, and who are able to lift the pushchair, for example up or down brief flights of stairs.
Access: As it’s a circular walk, those arriving by car can use the car park at Trencherfield Mill (postcode WN3 4AN; free of charge at weekends); otherwise, there is an excellent train service to the two Wigan stations from Manchester, Liverpool, Bolton, Warrington, Preston and Lancaster. Note, however, that Northern Rail has a habit of cancelling some services on Sunday and so it is worth aiming to arrive in Wigan in good time.
– For toilets and refreshments, there are pubs about half-way along but no public toilets except in Wigan town centre (at Wigan North Western near the start and during the final half-mile).
The walk is open to all and there is no charge, but booking is essential.