The Wigan Flashes were formed through the extraction of coal, which led to subsidence and extensive flooding.

Kirkless has great value and suitability as an important area for conservation, focusing not only on its ecological richness but also on the site as a valuable resource for recreation, education and research.

The site has strong heritage connections, as it was previously part of the Wigan Iron and Steel Works, as well as a major area for locomotive repairs and flagstone production.

A highly successful, yet unusual form of natural regeneration has colonised areas, and now provides an interesting and diverse mix of species. Botanically, the current flora composition echoes the site’s industrial past, as some vegetative communities developing on the site are a result of the iron ore extraction process, where slag waste was dumped. The site has been managed for 15 years and continues to be necessary, to ensure that the historical and botanical heritage is not lost.

The ease of access and proximity to community links with local rights of way provides a much-valued natural resource. In addition Kirkless, Ince has potential to forge stronger and more direct footpath routes between Hindley, Haigh, Aspull, Whelley and New Springs and intermediate areas along the canal.

The management incorporates the opportunity to work with educators to develop a programme of visits and research opportunities, as well as working with the ‘Friends of Kirkless’ to engage and empower the local community in making decisions about their surrounding natural environment.

Reserve facilities


Footpaths and nature walks


Horse Riding


Cycling as part of NCN 55


Car Parking

Location and Directions

More info coming soon

Walks and Maps

Contact us

If you are interested in volunteering, please get in touch!