Favorite thing: Along the route of the Wigan WAy are several canalside pubs where you can stop en route for resfreshment - this one in the pic is the Commercial Inn - we didn't stop here but one just a bit further up - the Kirkless Hall (see restaurant tip).
The Wigan Way is an 8 mile circular route starting from Wigan Pier to Haigh Hall and back to Wigan.
We enjoyed this easy mainly level walk one July on a balmy summer's day.
The most scenic part is throught he Leeds to Liverpool Canal - which although the longest canal in Britain at 127 miles long - its one of the least busy - perhaps because of all the locks that have to be navigated, there were certainly quite a few that we passed on the way to Haigh Hall! Its interesting to see the mix of rural with the industrial too.
In this pic Lock 71, looking towards Wigan, with the church at Scholes prominent in the distance is seen.
The Leeds and Liverpool canal was completed in 1827 and is 127 miles long with 91 locks and 2 tunnels The canal was instrumental in Wigan's industrial development and heritage - especially for transporting coal and cotton. The canal was prosperous until the railways provided their comptition in the 1850's but it was 1972 before coal traffic finally ceased.
Fondest memory: On the canal tow path behind the Trencherfield Mill is a dry dock and atop is an appropiate weather vane - :-)
Favorite thing: Just before the town centre on Standishgate is this disappointing piece of artork - entitled Warp and Weft. It didn't look anything like I'd expected from the description I'd read about it. Its made of steel and is supposed to take on differnt curves and angles depending upon which way you look at it. Well I suppose at least its a W for Wigan.
It was a busy Saturday and the centre was crowded with shoppers - fortunately a pedestrianised area.
No evidence anymore of the 1000 or so pitshafts that were once a feature of this old coal mining town!
Two historic thoroughfares cross Wigan town centre; Standishgate and Wallgate with tudor style frontages - but nowhere near as nice as Chester I'm afraid.
All the major shops and arcades can be found here.
Favorite thing: Wigan has more pubs in one square mile than any other North West town! Kings street, just up on the right from Wigan North Western station, is where the entertainment centre of Wigan can be found. Many club and bars here - - many iin former theatres of picture houses like this on the County Playhouse. Just in front of this is another art design. This one is called Footlights and was only installed in 2001 but already in poor shape and needing repair....
Favorite thing: The Rvier Douglas runs through Wigan, as well as the Leeds to Liverpool Canal, and on a section of the River near the aforementioned supermarket a sculpture of a dragon fly can be seen amongst the grrass. Its looks as if it has lost some of its wings however so perhaps you'll spot a real one instead - quite possible in this environment and much better than the sculpture. Notice too here the river gauge in the water - despite the recent rain it seemed fairly low so no danger of flooding.
Favorite thing: Wigan is renowned for its Rugby League club - Wigan Warriors. They have recently moved grounds - with its former home of Central Park now a big chain supermarket. Not wanting to forget its history though a memorial cast bronze rugby ball can be seen in one corner of its car park. Engraved on it are famous players of the club - Tommy Bradshaw, Joe Egan and Jimmy Sullivan.
Favorite thing: At the top of The Wiend is a childrens centre and in front of this is another public art form on display. Simple fun for the kids here in this mosaic maze. Its nice to know that children were involved in the design process of this too.
Favorite thing: The Wiend is Wigan's historic medieval shopping street - but really is was quite disappointing - narrow, few shops of interest and hardly picturesque - not a patch of those in York. I would easily have missed it had it not been for this sign. There did look to be a lovely fine retaurant at the top though - just opened.
Favorite thing: Just by the church is the war memorial - designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott in 1925. (same person who designed the British red telephones boxes and Liverpool's Anglican cathedral). It has a simple base but an ornate gothic syle cross - in keeping wih the church architecture.
Favorite thing: The parish church is the oldest building in Wigan, dating from 13th century, and is gothic in style. Like other gothic churches it had grotesque gargoyle gutter spouts - but angels were above these too. Its open to the public for visiting but was closed when we passes (closes at 2.30pm). IIt was covered in scaffolding too so took a detailed shot instead of an overview.
Favorite thing: The centre of the town is the old market square. Where the original markket cross would have been is now replaced with a modern art design which also celebrates its Royal Charter received from King Henry III in 1246.
Favorite thing: We arrived by train from Liverpool - a journey of some 35 minutes. The tourist information centre was just across the road from the train station - Wigan Northwestern - so it was handy to pop in to get some loal info and maps. From here we discovered about the Public art trail and the 8 mile Wigan Way circular walk from the pier to Haigh Hall - something for another trip. So a trip to the local tourist office is always worthwhile!
My favourite thing about Wigan is the rugby, get along to a game if you can. The JJB doesn't have the atmosphere or history of Central Park, but it's still great entertainment.
Fondest memory: `In the Moon Under Water (a Wetherspoons pub in Wigan) there's a picture of my great grandfather on a narrow boat leaving Wigan pier. It really makes me feel part of the town.
The same picture is in Wigan Pier, but for some reason I seem to visit the pub more often....