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Lancashire Walk - Worthington Lakes, Standish

PUBLISHED: 12:45 09 August 2011 | UPDATED: 16:53 13 January 2018

Arley Reservoir

Arley Reservoir

Keith Carter leads a walk which takes in a stretch of canal and the Worthington Lakes at Standish

Approaching bridge number 64 on the Leeds Liverpool Canal Approaching bridge number 64 on the Leeds Liverpool Canal

Worthington Lakes consist of three reservoirs linked together, originally created by damming the River Douglas to provide drinking water for Wigan but now mainly a source of contentment or frustration for the noble art of maggot drowning, sometimes referred to, ironically, as fishing.

Finding the access is not particularly easy if you don’t know the area, the opening off the A5016 poorly signposted, occasioning in my case a near multiple-car pile-up narrowly avoided by quick-thinking or sheer luck. The OS map shows public conveniences here but these are closed and are now neither public nor a convenience except on the days when school parties are on site. Still, there’s always the bushes.

Having found the car park you go through a kissing-gate to join a lakeside path and follow it to the left, that is with the lake on your right. The timber buildings are used for educational purposes but the picnic tables nearby offer a nice spot for al fresco dining.

We follow the good path alongside first Arley Reservoir then Adlington Reservoir at the far end of which we take the dam to the right and cross the embankment to the far side. Here keep ahead, ignoring the path to the right across the stone culvert, and enter Arley Wood by way of a kissing gate, initially beside some old iron railings. We met a dog walker who asked if we were good at jumping. A fallen tree obstructed the path but we found jumping was not necessary provided you could limbo under the branches.

Adlington reservoir Adlington reservoir

On seeing a metal footbridge to the right, cross it over the stream and you will find a new, smart fingerpost offering a choice of ways. We take the one to the left indicating the Leeds Liverpool Canal and make our way on a quite narrow path through the trees forking left where it divides then right at a guide post then right again at the next fork.

We suddenly come out of the trees and practically fall into the canal

which comes on us quite unexpectedly. Turn right on the towpath, the canal on your left, and enjoy the canalside peace as far as Red Rock. We stood aside to let three cyclists pedal pass, three robust ladies in high visibility Lycra showing a certain unfamiliarity with their off-road cycles. “Is this right for Adlington?” panted one. “Where have you come from?” “Wigan.” “Then it’s OK for Adlington.” It’s hard to imagine getting lost on a canal towpath but you never know.

The warm weather had brought out the fun seekers including a party on a narrow boat who had broken out the Pinot Grigio quite early in the day. We were tempted to copy them but on arriving at Red Rock found the pub, the Crawford Arms, more recently renamed Bridge 63, closed and the windows boarded up.

Before the bridge, leave the canal and take the lane to the right, then the next right on the tarmac approach road to Wigan Golf Club which is now housed in the 18th century Arley Hall built in the style known as Jacobethan. We pass to the left of the hall and take a clear path which splits the fairway, a path soon breaking off to the right signposted Worthington Lakes. We’re back in Arley Wood again and soon arrive at the signpost we encountered earlier and the footbridge beyond crossing the stream.

Arley Wood Arley Wood

Retrace your steps to the dam and return to the far side of the reservoir to take the lakeside path back to our starting point. A handy picnic bench made a good spot for lunch spent watching a young fisherman watching his line. Suddenly, great excitement. He had caught one! He reeled in and had small fish in his hand when it slipped out of his grasp and flipped back into the water. His sheepish grin said it all. You wait all day… oh well, fishing was never about catching fish, was it?

I recommend this walk. It’s easy going with no hills and no great

distance to worry about. For an easy stroll on a Sunday afternoon, it comes up trumps.

Compass points

Area of walk: Worthington Lakes near Standish

The 18th century Arley Hall The 18th century Arley Hall

Map: OS Explorer 276 Bolton, Wigan and Warrington

Distance: Four miles

Time to allow: Two hours

Refreshments: None, but you will pass some picnic benches


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