COUNCILLORS celebrated the opening of a new lakeside cafe at Pennington Flash as part of a £2.7m redevelopment of the nature reserve.

The Hide Coffee House officially opens its doors to the public today (Friday, March 3), which combines a mouth-watering menu with a relaxed, friendly atmosphere and stunning views across the water.

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Leigh Journal: A selection of the cakes and snacks on offer at The HideA selection of the cakes and snacks on offer at The Hide (Image: Wigan Council)

Open seven days a week, the council-run cafe is managed by Lowton-based Yvette Merga and boasts a variety of breakfasts, lunches, cakes, pastries and ice creams - including vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options - with the dog-friendly venue even selling artisan treats for customers’ four-legged friends.

Former scientist and coffee enthusiast Yvette said: “We really wanted to bring the independent coffee house experience to the great outdoors and I hope people love the vibe we’ve tried to create.

“Pennington Flash is such a special place and that meant our café had to be special too, so we’ll be using only the finest suppliers and partnering with local producers where possible to give our customers the best experience.”

Leigh Journal: Yvetta Marga and the team at the The HideYvetta Marga and the team at the The Hide (Image: Wigan Council)

The café and visitor centre are part of a £2.7m council makeover of facilities at the nature reserve, with new accessible toilets installed along with upgrades to parking - including electric vehicle charging points.

Leigh Ontological Society was involved in the development consultations in order to preserve the beauty of the Flash, with work on a new adventure playground for families expected to be completed in June.

Leigh Journal: Cllr Alison McKenzie-Folan, Cllr Keith Cunliffe, and Cllr David MolyneuxCllr Alison McKenzie-Folan, Cllr Keith Cunliffe, and Cllr David Molyneux (Image: Wigan Council)

Following the official ribbon rutting Councillor Keith Cunliffe, Deputy Leader of Wigan Council, said: “Whether you’re enjoying a day out with the family, catching up with old friends or simply walking the dog, The Hide Coffee House is the perfect place to take some time out, relax and enjoy our glorious surroundings with a drink and a bite to eat.

“We know people have been so excited ahead of our official launch and we hope they’ll be as delighted as we are with the results!

"Pennington Flash is a place close to so many people’s hearts and the team have done an incredible job creating an experience that really complements our wonderful nature reserve.”

READ > The Hide Coffee House ready to open at Pennington Flash in Leigh

Leigh Journal: The cafe has lakeside views and indoor and outdoor seatingThe cafe has lakeside views and indoor and outdoor seating (Image: Leigh Journal)

Drawing inspiration from the natural beauty of the Flash, the café features a colourful indoor mural by local artist Jessica Riley depicting wildlife such as the rare and nationally significant willow tit.

It also has an attractive outdoor decking area ideal for the warmer months, with longer opening hours also planned in the summer.

With Pennington Flash formally declared as National Nature Reserve last year, this is said to have been a catalyst for the council to push ahead with developments to attract people to the Flash while preserving its natural beauty.

Leigh Journal: The cafe is part of a wider £2.7m redevelopment of Pennington FlashThe cafe is part of a wider £2.7m redevelopment of Pennington Flash (Image: Wigan Council)

Councillor Chris Ready, portfolio holder for communities and neighbourhoods, said: “Pennington Flash has been a source of local pride for generations and is now a certified national treasure as part of the Flashes of Wigan and Leigh National Nature Reserve declared by Natural England last October.

“These fantastic new facilities are all about giving our visitors the best possible experience and allowing more and more people to connect with the beauty of our natural environment, and I’m sure our amazing new café will be a massive success!”

The Hide Coffee House is open 9am-4pm from November to March, and 9am-7pm from April to October.