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New Wigan bus service connects rail with country park

A new weekend bus service serving Wigan’s Haigh Woodland Park (HWP) is all set for its maiden journey. Operating from Wigan town centre, the Haigh Woodland Wanderer will run every weekend through the summer holiday season.

Organised and funded by a partnership – including Wigan Council, Transport for Greater Manchester and the Friends of Haigh group – the new service will make one of region’s most popular tourist destinations even more accessible.

Councillor Chris Ready, portfolio holder for communities, said: “Over the last year many of us have found the benefits of being active in the great outdoors more than ever. We hope this service will offer people the chance to visit Haigh Woodland Park more frequently, to enjoy the many miles of woodland walks and other attractions and events.”

With tickets available for £1 for adults and 50p for children (free for concessions), the Wanderer’s hourly route includes stops in Scholes, Whelley, Aspull and on Wigan Road.

In addition to the weekend schedule, it will run on Bank Holiday Monday (August 30) and through autumn half-term (Monday 25 to Friday 29, October) to coincide with the Haigh Halloween Festival.

It is the latest in a series of boosts for the HWP in recent months, and follows on from Haigh Hall returning to the council earlier this year.

It was announced in May that Wigan Council had been awarded development funding of £256,000 to progress plans to put forward a full National Lottery grant application, that would underpin the further redevelopment of the Woodland Park.

Ray Hinds from the Friends of Haigh group, said: “We are happy to contribute funding to the bus service which, we hope, will see many access the park who may usually not visit as often as they might like. Haigh Woodland Park is a wonderful green space and offers wonderful insights into the borough’s heritage which more people will now be able to access.” 

Professor Paul Salveson, chairm of The South-East Lancashire Community Rail Partnership, said: “Our partnership is proud to be part of this project as it works to connect residents to their surrounding green spaces. The new bus service offers many the opportunity to access Haigh Woodland Park who may have previously struggled to make the trip.

“We believe the service will be of great value to many and provide an accessible mode of transport to the attractions at the park. We would also like to see people from further afield to visit Haigh, using the train to Wigan – the bus stops right next to Wallgate station and is a short walk from North Western.”

In line with the council’s Community Wealthy Building principles, the service will be operated by borough based firm, Finches.