Haigh Woodland Park is justifiably noted for its majestic and wide ranging woodlands. The 'plantations' were largely laid out during the 1860’s – the time of the American Civil War, when cotton supplies were severely curtailed, and were named after the cotton plantations in America. The Earl provided work for the men thrown out of work in the mills by creating the maze of pathways and woods we know today.Follow Us
The glories of the Plantation are, however, only one aspect of what the park offers the visitor. Beautiful sweeping vistas to Blackrod and the moors one way, whilst to the west, and especially fine on a sunny evening, one may look across the Douglas Valley to Ashurst Beacon.
Leafy lanes, canal side walks, tranquil gardens, bird watching opportunities, a fine golf course and family fun with Crazy Golf, train rides and the Woodland Park playground together with the High Ropes Adventure all add to the delights offered. The Visitors Centre offers information, a shop and cafe. There are also a variety of excellent artisan shops in the courtyard to explore.
Less obvious are the remains of Haigh’s past, both domestic and industrial. Fascinating walks give one the opportunity to discover ruins of the old kennels, laundry and cottages as well as ample evidence of the importance Haigh played in the Industrial Revolution and the heyday of the Lancashire coalfield.
The ruins of Bridge and Dairy Pits on the canal bank are easily spotted, less so are those of the Old Wash Pit, or the fenced off Cat Gallows Pit. Everywhere can be found fragments of coal and cannel from the dumps where the riches of the earth were then loaded onto carts. To the east of the main drive a number of “sough” pits can be seen. These mark the line of one of the engineering miracles of the 17th century. For 17 years, from 1653 to 1670, men toiled with picks, wedges and hammers to drive a drainage tunnel from north of the canal to the Yellow Brook. It has been estimated that progress was only about 1 ¾ yards a week.
Quarries by the Old School Cottages, and below 'The Receptacle' Almshouses of 1772, provided stone for the flags in front of Haigh Hall, other areas of the Hall’s rebuilding and for stone sleepers for colliery railways. A 'Delf' near Mowpin Lodge is the sign of yet another sandstone quarry. While down in the Lower Plantations, again near the Almshouses, the eagle eyed can spot a lost canal from around 1790 which carried coal to the famous Haigh Foundry. Standing on the banks of the River Douglas, as it burbles its way down stream to Wigan, it is hard to imagine that Haigh Foundry built well over 100 railway locomotives for Britain and the wider world. Additionally huge pumping engines and ironwork of every kind came out of the foundry, including the beautifully ornate mile markers seen at Boar’s Head, Standish, Worthington and beyond.
Around the Monk’s Hill area, which gives a fine view down onto Haigh Bridge, can be discerned the track bed of a short lived railway that existed from 1856 – 69. so, all in all, the history buff is well catered for.Follow Us
For those who enjoy a spooky tale Haigh Woodland Park is again well blessed.
Who is the spectral figure in white seen near the canal and roaming through Lady Mabel's Wood? Is it Lady Mabel?
Then there is the Kitchen Maid’s Pond, not far from the Hall, which is supposedly named after an unfortunate servant who drowned in this water.
The Hall itself has been the site of many strange experiences. Then there is the faceless cyclist seen on Copperas Lane, or the little girl dressed in old costume, hair ringing wet, seen near Mowpin Lodge.
Doctor Johnson’s famous quote that “When a man is tired of London he is tired of life” could, by changing London to Haigh, be equally true of Wigan’s jewel.
After exploring what Haigh Woodland Park has to offer there are opportunities to relax, possibly by the ornamental pond with it's fountain playing onto lily pads, or at the Swan Pond, where we are seeking funding to improve this area to offer information boards, picnic tables and seating where children can watch the ducks. There is a cafe and tea room within the setting of the Stables Courtyard and artisan shops offering a variety of fresh foods, drinks, ice creams, chocolates, organic meats, fruits and veg, bakery, and craft shop.
The Friends of Haigh Woodland Park love this place. We are sure you will too. So come and visit soon!Follow Us
Lady Dorothy (bap 1705, d 1785) was a member of the prominent landed Bellingham family. She married Roger Bradshaigh (4th Baronet) of Haigh in 1731. When they took over Haigh Hall in 1742 the estate was in debt so they lived on a 'straitened income' while Sir Roger restored the estate by exploiting the huge deposits of cannel coal there. Lady Bradshaigh was known for her letter writing but was also a very practical charitable lady - involved in establishing the almshouses, known as The Receptacle.
The plaque on the Almshouses now converted into private cottages, reads "This Receptacle for the benefit of the worthy poor was erected in 1772 at the expense of Dorothy Lady Bradshaigh Relict of Sir Roger Bradshaigh, she thinking it the best way of showing her gratitude and to perpetuate the memory of her affectionate husband, whose bounty enabled her to perform this act of charity as agreeable to his own good disposition."
The well-loved metal play train once enjoyed by so many children had seen better days. In 2018 the Friends of Haigh Woodland Park restored and resited the train by the path just beyond the Crazy Golf course. We named her 'DOTTY' in recognition of Lady Dorothy Bradshaigh.
Unveiled in 2015 as part of our World War 1 commemorative exhibition week held in Haigh Hall, an information and history plinth was designed and funded by the Friends of Haigh Woodland Park.
This can now be seen overlooking the Haigh Hall Hotel and the vista beyond. it is sited along the footpath leading towards the Hall and the main drive behind the children's play area.Follow Us