Cadishead & Little Woolden Moss

A path through the ferns at Cadishead Moss nature reserve

Alan Wright

A dragonfly resting on vegetation at Cadishead Moss nature reserve
A hobby flying through the air with a dragonfly in its talons

Andy Morffew

Cadishead & Little Woolden Moss

Sphagnum moss, common lizards and dragonflies are reclaiming these once-exploited peatlands, whose scars are only just beginning to heal.


6km south of Leigh and 15km west of the centre of Manchester
M44 5LR

OS Map Reference

SJ698 951 and SJ692 951
A static map of Cadishead & Little Woolden Moss

Know before you go

115 hectares

Parking information

Small car park (six vehicles) accessible from Astley Road. More parking on Moss Road.

Walking trails

A public footpath runs around the edge of part of Little Woolden Moss which can be found on O/S Explorer 276 Bolton, Wigan & Warrington and Landranger 109 Manchester, Bolton & Warrington. A permissive path has been created through Cadishead Moss connecting the public footpath to the access from Astley Road. Do not stray from the path as the habitat is in a delicate state of recovery and there are numerous hazards.


Access is only permitted along the public footpath which runs around the periphery of Little Woolden Moss, and the permissive route linking to Astley Road. Please keep to the public footpaths as the reserve is boggy and to help protect the sensitive wildlife.


On a lead

When to visit

Opening times

Open at all times.

Best time to visit

Spring to Summer

About the reserve

Anyone who wishes to see the damage that peat extraction has caused to our lowland peatlands should visit Cadishead and Little Woolden Moss in Salford, one of the few remaining fragments of the Chat Moss peatlands. Standing right across from each other, one reserve stands in stark contrast to another.

Purchased by Lancashire Wildlife Trust more than six years ago, Cadishead Moss is now a haven of greenery thanks to the fantastic restoration work of our staff and volunteers. Little Woolden Moss, saved from peat extraction in 2012, still has a long way to go, but we are already seeing sphagnum moss and cottongrass recolonising the reserve, proving it is a true peatland.

When these reserves were exploited for peat, drains were installed to sap the landscape of moisture and dry out the ground. We have blocked these as part of our restoration work and created water retaining structures known as bunds; rewetting the landscape to allow specialist peatland wildlife and plant life to thrive once more. Rewetting also helps to preserve the thousands of tonnes of carbon stored in the peaty soil.

With our help, both Cadishead and Little Woolden Moss are bursting back into life. There is evidence of roe deer visiting the sites, and lifelong resident and birder, David Steel, has recorded more than 100 species of bird including rarities like the weird and wonderful stone curlew.

In summer, hobbies chase common darter and black darter dragonflies over the Moss, and as the season melts into autumn, merlins can be seen perched on rocks and tree stumps, surveying the landscape for prey. Short-eared owls and buzzards also hunt over Cadishead and Little Woolden Moss, while lapwing and skylark breed down on the ground.

The Mosses are also fantastic places to see common lizards which rest lazily on the old rail tracks. However, one of the real treats is the rare bog bush cricket which calls amongst the heather during summertime.

Learn more about peatlands

Contact us

Martyn Walker
Contact number: 01204 663754
Contact email: