Westhoughton Community Network

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Friends of Eatock Lodge logo Friends of Eatock Lodge

View of Eatock Lodge from hill Eatock Lodge is a 6 hectare Local Nature Reserve and Site of Biological Importance in Daisy Hill off The Hoskers, the former site of a coal mine that has been returned to nature, and is an area of natural beauty secluded from nearby housing estates. The site dominated by the sizeable lake and hillock (grassed mound and former slagheap). Eatock Lodge also comprises of a variety of grasslands, shrubbery and woodland - there is a flattened area with small-size goalposts; footpaths weave around the nature reserve, and as such attract people walking their dogs or out getting fresh air.

The site is managed and maintained by Bolton Council (Greenspace).

Current Events & Activities.

Fishing is permitted on the lodge: you will need a rod licence and any fish caught must be freed and returned to the water. Please observe local bylaws for the nature reserve. Fishing at Eatock Lodge | Fishing Licences (HM Gov).

About Us

A view of Eatock Lodge shimmering in the sunshineFriends of Eatock Lodge is a group of local residents who formed in 2010, getting together to secure improvements around the lodge, promoting its use for leisure and education.

In 2011, with funding secured from the Big Lottery, under the banner of 'Eatock's Alive', the group in conjunction with Lancashire Wildlife Trust embarked upon a programme of amenity improvements and activities, culminating in a 'Big Family Fun Day'.

Key objectives for Friends of Eatock Lodge

  • Maintain the sites access, public use and status as an SBI (Site of Biological Importance).
  • Raise awareness of Eatock Lodge as a local resource, and increase local knowledge of its wildlife and history.
  • Improve the site for wildlife value and public use.

Thanks to funding, our group has been able to initiate or buy in services that have benefited and will continue to benefit local residents.

We are always looking for new members to come and join us, so if you have an interest in this Local Nature Reserve, please get in touch or speak to us if we are out and about or at one of our events. Or join our Facebook group where news, photos and feedback is shared.


  • Fishing pegs repaired for fishermen to use. Fishing pegs replaced in 2018, including the addition of peg and path for wheelchair access.
  • The building of a dipping platform (pier) on the lodge.
  • Installation of 9 benches around Eatock Lodge (2011 (3); 2012 (3)). In 2018 volunteers from the group made and installed 3 additional benches on the hill.
  • Installation of noticeboard and information board (colliery).

During the summer we have been able to put on a number of themed activities…

  • Community Clean-ups - family friendly litter picks.
  • Walks and Talks - giving residents the opportunity to learn more about the wildlife of Eatock Lodge, such as: 'Dragonflies and Amphibians'; 'Learn how to identify the trees and flowers around Eatock Lodge'; 'Dawn Chorus'; 'Bat Walks'.
  • Playschemes - these activities were aimed at 8 to 12 year olds, and involved a number of supervised, outdoor activities around nature and crafts; these activities included: 'What's Lurking in the Lodge?'; 'Creative Camouflage' (how animals and insects hide); 'Know your birds'; 'Kite-making'; 'Bugs Hunts'; 'Making Collages and Craftwork'.
  • The group works with local providers and schools to encourage use of the lodge for educational and leisure activities.

Family Fundays

  • Eatock Lodge Family Funday 2011 - families try pond-dipping on the new dipping platformIn late August (2011), in the first of our now annual family Fundays families were able to come along to enjoy a fantastic day of fun and learning around Eatock Lodge. There were arts and crafts (kite-making, sockpuppets…), pond dipping (identifying lake-bound creatures), green woodwork (bodging), face-painting, a bouncy castle and more!

    For our inaugural event we were joined on the day by local community groups with stalls - Westhoughton Local History Group and Westhoughton Community Queens Association.

Further Improvements

Thanks to the efforts of the Friends of Eatock Lodge and interest shown by local residents, working with the Bolton Council (Greenspace) and Bolton Conservation Volunteers (BCV), the site has seen further improvements over the years - mainly tidying up work, maintenance of the lodge itself, and additional amenities such as benches. In early 2014, in part financed by the Town Council, a number of improvements are being made:

  • A new kissing gate at main Hoskers entrance, replacing a broken one.
  • A kissing gate installed at the Dorkett Grove entrance - partly to address some illicit dumping of garden waste onto the reserve.
  • Removal of tree and shrub whips from the grassland bank on the west side of the lodge to be undertaken to maintain the wildflower interest and provide nectar sources for bees and butterflies.
  • Vegetation cut back to the knee rail at the Parkway entrance and dense shrubbery reduced to maintain the wildflower area, again for bees and butterflies.
  • Repair of the hollows in the football pitch.
  • New sign posts at all entrances.
  • Improved access for vehicles for events (2020).
  • Maintenance of access routes, including new steps down to Parkway entrance.
  • Repair/replacement of 3 worn-out benches (2023).
  • Clearance (hawthorn) of large hill and pitch area to allow meadow grass and insect life to flourish.
  • Installation of 3 new benches - 2 with lakeside view, 1 with view of play area (2023).
  • Installation (replacement) of new goalposts on football pitch (2024).

Eatock Lodge - the new information board (2014) tells the story of the Eatock CollieryIn addition, an information board was installed at the Hoskers entrance telling visitors about the lodge's previous life as a working colliery - the Local History Group has been able to help, providing some detail.

Eatock Lodge was originally open fields before coal was discovered below ground and colliery pits were sunk between 1881 and 1884. At one point the Eatock colliery employed some 600 men; after World War One the numbers were 450, falling to 260 in the 1930s. Water ingress was a problem, and in 1934 the battle with nature was lost and the mine closed. The land was reclaimed by the now defunct Greater Manchester Council in the late 1970s, being declared a Local Nature Reserve in 2004 to preserve the site for the benefit of local people, enabling them to enjoy this rich natural environment on their doorstep. On a more sombre note, highlighting the dangers of mining at the time, between 1886 and 1936 there were 47 serious accidents, of which 24 were fatal.

Events and Activities at Eatock Lodge


'Bolton Conservation Volunteers join Friends of Eatock Lodge to do maintenance tasks at the nature reserve' (August 2022) Eatock Lodge became very popular post-Lockdown and whilst fundays have not returned, the group has been active organising smaller activities such as Nature Walks and Litter Picks, and has been involved with conservation activities bringing in outside help (Bolton Conservation Volunteers). Outside groups sometimes use the lodge for activities such as pond-dipping. We get called upon to do the ocassional talk about the reserve and its wildlife, such as Senior Solutions and the Rainbows.

With the retirement of key staff and organisational changes the management of outdoor spaces and local nature reserves across Bolton has put the onus on local community input into the upkeep of these spaces - it is somewhat frustrating as planned maintenance and conservation activity is not happening. Friends of Eatock Lodge secured some funding from Westhoughton Town Council (£500) to tackle some pressing issues.

Our adult swans, Apollo and Cassandra, with us since 2020, have made Eatock Lodge their home and in 2023 had their third batch of cygnets; the swan family has proven very popular and an education for visitors as the cycle of life progresses. Cygnets only remain with the parents for 6-8 months before being chased off to find new homes. Our cygnets get ID rings, and we give them names and their progress and new location is often reported. Some landing at nearby lakes will get a visit from 'old friends'. Other wildfowl: ducks, coots and moorhens live on the water; unfortunately ducklings have not done well in recent years.

Photos sometimes appear of the area before it was planted and made a Local Nature Reserve (2004), the change is dramatic showing just how much nature if left can take over an area and have on offer such variety and be a home to many species of plants, wildlife and insects.

Watch Facebook group for announcements. Friends of Eatock Lodge Facebook Group


Friends of Eatock Lodge - nature reserve clean-up and litter pick' (Feb 2021) Covid-19 Lockdown and Social Distancing measures persisted well into 2021. However, individuals have continued to keep the lodge tidy and it was possible to organise a well-attended, socially distanced community litter-pick in Febraury to do a thorough pre-spring clean. As Lockdown was eased there were a few organised events such as guided Bird Song and Nature Walks. With the ongoing uncertainty it was not possible to organise a Funday this year. It is hoped that organised events and projects can take place next year subject to funding. It is anticipated Bolton Council will undertake some maintenance work as requested - with funding from Westhoughton Town Council (Precept).

Eatock Lodge - new swan family (2021)Nature and in particular wildfowl did very well this year with coots, moorhens, ducks… however, the stars of the show were the new family of swans and cygnets, which over the summer have become a popular attraction with visitors to the lodge as people watched the family interact and the cygnets grow. Lots of photos on the Facebook group.

The group is involved with Bolton Green Forum (BGF) and Bolton Green Umbrella supporting the outdoors and conservation initiatives.


With Lockdown and Social Distancing measures in place due to Covid-19, it was not possible to organise any community events. However, there has been an increase in recreational use during this period, and a big increase in Facebook group activity and membership. Friends of Eatock Lodge was represented on the Bolton-wide Bolton Green Forum and Bolton Green Umbrella.


Friends of Eatock Lodge - awarded funding from the National Lottery for the Everyone Loves Eatock' (2019) The group, in conjunction with 'Playing For Success', submitted a bid to the National Lottery Community Fund for wide-ranging programme of activities catering for young and old, working with schools and senior citizen groups, which will involve educational activities and entertainment, as well as further amenity improvements. This bid was successful with £10,000 allocated for projects over 2019.

Friends of Eatock Lodge Family Funday 2019 - 1st September 2019 (12-4pm). A first community Litter Pick of 2019 was held 23rd March as part of the #GBSpringClean initiative (there are regular Litter Picks throughout the summer months). The group had a public meeting and AGM at Daisy Hill Cricket Club on 25th March, where 2018 activities were reviewed and plans for 2019 were discussed. Playing For Success were commissioned to provide 12 sessions - 6 with OAPs attending the Winifred Kettle Centre (July/August), and 6 with school children (September) with a mix of both outdoor and indoor educational and arts & crafts activities. There was a Bird Song Walk led by local bird expert, Colin Gradwell, on Saturday, 27th April (7:30am). The annual Family Funday took place on Sunday, 1st September with a number of attractions and stalls, unfortunately the weather was not kind this year! A 'Bat Walk' took place mid-September as a final organised event.


Planning for events and activities began in the spring, and was a busy year for the group with activities such as Litter Picks, the Bird Song Walk, and a work-day in May led by Bolton Conservation Volunteers (BCV) with volunteers undertaking some maintenance tasks around the lodge, including creating a winter home for frogs and toads (an Amphibian Hibernaculum), as well as preparations for the end of summer funday.

With funding in place users saw some significant improvements around the lodge including replacement of all the fishing pegs (May), including one suitable and accessible for wheelchair users.

Funded by Bolton Council, Friends of Eatock Lodge undertook to make and install three additional benches on the hill with view of the lodge and beyond (June).

The summer was not without incident, the prolonged spell of very hot and dry weather taking its toll on the wildlife as water - and oxygen - levels fell, and a number of birds were lost to disease (feeding ducks bread not something we recommend). The Council acted swiftly and the disease, though a major incident, was contained. Nature soon recovered, with water-bound birds returning in good numbers, and the site was given the all clear in time for the Funday.

The annual Family Funday took place on Sunday, 2nd September. The weather was favourable, and during the course of the afternoon some 500 visitors were entertained and enthralled by a mix of outdoor attractions and fun activities, including guided nature walks. This free event was part-funded by Forever Manchester and Bolton Council Area Forums.


At the end of 2016 the group put in an ambitious bid for funding from the National Lottery to do a programme of events and activities throughout 2017 from winter through to the autumn with something for all ages including a return of the Winter Conservation Sessions (wood clearance work and conservation skills for adults); Summer Activity/Educational Sessions (outdoor, nature setting for young children); the always popular end of Summer Family Funday; summer concerts across the lodge, and an off-site exhibition/party for OAPs (taking the lodge to them). Our friends at Lancashire Wildlife Trust would have been supporting and overseeing activity sessions. Unfortunately, this funding bid was unsuccessful…

Friends of Eatock Lodge Spring 2017 events - Community Litter Pick (1/4) and Bird Song Walk (29/4). The group will look at putting on events and activities if funding allows. From time to time there will be Litter Picks (Sat, 1st April) and themed (educational) walks - Bird Song Walk (Sat, 29th April). The Family Funday returned on Sunday, 3rd September, with some new attractions including a mobile petting zoo.

The group is looking at special events for over the summer months including the possibility a summer evening brass band concert across the lodge with Wingates Brass Band performing.

Bolton Council have indicated their support for requested improvements to the lodge amenities such as repairs/rebuilding of the fishing pegs and extra benches around Eatock Lodge.


Friends of Eatock Lodge Family Funday 2016 - join us for end of summer activities at Local Nature Reserve. The first event of 2016 was a 'Big Community Clean-up', a litter pick with a difference in that contractors were on hand doing a clean-up of the lodge itself - unfortunately litter does accumulate on the water spoiling the view but also being a danger to the wildlife. With the weather improving an early morning Bird Song Walk with a local bird expert took place on late April and Friends of Eatock Lodge again took part in the Westhoughton Yarn Bombing Festival (2/3 July) showing off their amazing 'knitted' Eatock Lodge. The end of summer saw the fourth of our popular Family Fundays (Sunday, 4th September) - the year's event supported by some funding from Westhoughton Town Council which helped towards the costs involved. An autumn Community Litter Pick at half-term concluding the year's activities on site.


A Community Litter Pick took place in April, and in early May - a key time for our feathered friends - there was an early start for a Dawn Chorus Walk with local bird expert, Colin Gradwell, with tips on seeing, hearing and identifying the many birds who nest and visit Eatock Lodge.

The popular Friends of Eatock Lodge end of summer 'Family Fun Day' was on Sunday, 6th Septemberwith outdoor/nature related activities involving Lancashire Wildlife Trust. There was a great turnout on the day with lots to see and do, and some fun activities for children. 'Glen the Bodger' returned to demonstrate traditional wood crafts; news additions were birds of prey, the Barking Berry Fun Dog Show Team, with Westhoughton Leisure Centre on hand to promote sport with special offers for visitors. This free, community event was funded through GM Police (Westhoughton You Decide) and by a grant from W.A.C.O.. A Community Litter Pick took place on late October for adults and children to leave the lodge in good order for the winter months.

Children pond-dipping at Friends of Eatock Lodge Funday 2015. In the Den for Lancashire Wildlife Trust activities at Friends of Eatock Lodge Funday 2015. Birds of Prey at Friends of Eatock Lodge Funday 2015.

Other photos from the day are now online on the Facebook group site. A short Funday Video (YouTube) gives a flavour of this popular educational and family-oriented event at Eatock Lodge.


Eatock's Alive over Winter  Friends of Eatock Lodge join forces with Lancashire Wildlife Trust. Winter Activities (2014)

Given the success of Eatock's Alive 2014, and having secured some additional funding from W.A.C.O. it was decided to put on some extra events over the winter. Again run by Lancashire Wildlife Trust, these were a mix of outdoor work and outdoor skills. The first activity took place on Saturday, 13th December, followed by further monthly sessions through to March (10/1/15; 21/2/15, 21/3/15). Bolton News report on the 10th January session.

Eatock's Alive 2014

Thanks to funding received from the Big Bolton Fund (Bolton CVS) and Forever Manchester, Friends of Eatock Lodge in conjunction with Lancashire Wildlife Trust put on a series of supervised, educational activities for children aged 8-12, using the natural resources of this Local Nature Reserve (LNR) with a focus on outdoors.

Eatock's Alive 2014 - Friends of Eatock Lodge join forces with Lancashire Wildlife Trust.There were six free stimulating and fun morning sessions that took place over July and August:

  • Tues, 29th July - Pond dipping, crafts and games.
  • Tues, 5th August - Environmental art and games.
  • Tues, 12th August - Minibeast safari, crafts and games.
  • Tues, 19th August - Scavenger hunting, crafts and games.
  • Tues, 26th August - Woodland crafts and games.
  • Fri, 29th August - Bushcraft and games.

Bringing the summer activities to a close was the Family Funday at the lodge on Sunday, 7th September featuring drop-in sessions run by Lancashire Wildlife Trust, plus a Bodger Demonstration (traditional woodcraft), Arts and Crafts, Games, Bouncy Castle and Face-painting, plus an appearance by the Westhoughton Community Queens Association. As an act of remembrance for the 100-year anniversary of the outbreak of World War One poppy seed were handed out to be sewn by children. Great to see so many people turn out to enjoy the lodge.

For further information about Lancashire Wildlife Trust contact James Hall on 01204 663754 or e-mail: Lancashire Wildlife Trust.

Ducks enjoying the sunshine at Eatcok Lodge Contact Information

For further details email: Friends of Eatock Lodge

Facebook Group Friends of Eatock Lodge Facebook Group


Page last updated: 14/2/24.

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