For many years I’ve been running round the trails between the Gin Pit and Lilford Park. Some years back, I’m not quite sure when I noticed a severely weathered statue of a lion tucked away in the trees at the end of the Avenue, near the entrance to Lilford Park.
One day I actually took the time to stop and read the plaque on it. It says the following:-
I find stories about local history very interesting and I was fascinated by the story of this beautiful bridge and the lake that used to be here over a hundred years ago and wanted to find out more. . .
History of Lions Bridge
Lions Bridge stood from 1724 until 1905 as the grand entrance to the Atherton Hall estate at the end of The Avenue. It spanned the three quarters of a mile long, crescent shaped, ornamental lake which although now dry can still be seen at times of flooding. It was one of the town’s most popular beauty spots and a favourite walk for courting couples.
There were six stone lions on the bridge, two at each end and two in the middle. The lions are said to have left their perches for a dip in the lake on New Year’s Eve, just as the church clock began to ring out the old year, but they had to be back by the stroke of twelve. One year, one lion didn’t make it and that is why later on, there were only five lions on the bridge.
While today nothing remains of the bridge itself the site is marked by what remains of one of the statues that once stood in the centre of the bridge. While virtually unrecognisable the stones which make up this statue were re-erected in 1993 and Leigh’s Civic Trust added a commemorative plaque.
I decided to call this trail marathon after the bridge. I want to revive the fading memory of what was once and for nearly 200 years a wonderful landmark in Leigh. Whether you have been a local all your life or from far away and simply coming to run this marathon, I hope to share with you Leigh’s lost gem and keep the history of Lions Bridge alive. Hope you enjoy the Lions Bridge trail marathon and take the time to say hello to the lonely lion still guarding the original spot of Lions Bridge.
The Lions Bridge Trail Marathon aims to continue the theme of the Gin Pit Double marathon, by offering local runners the opportunity to run a low key friendly marathon.
The inspiration for this course was to share the area’s pleasant trails that I love and regularly train on with other runners. The course comprises of 6 identical laps which are virtually traffic free (3 for the half), they are virtually all on trails and include a run through Lilford Park. There is a short stretch on a lane before you reach the entrance to Lilford Park and another short stretch on Green Lane before crossing Queens Way and returning to the trails.
The registration, start, finish and drinks station are all at:
Gin Pit Welfare Club, Gin Pit Village, Ley Road, Tyldesley, Manchester, M29 7DW (pictured below)
The benefit of 6 laps is that the single drinks station at the Gin Pit Welfare Club is passed 6 times and enables runners to leave their own drinks & snacks to be retrieved each lap (every 4.4 miles). The Start/Finish will be manned throughout the event but please note any drinks, gels or snacks left at the drinks station are done so at the runner’s own risk. It is recommend that runners who wish to leave something at the drinks station mark it with their name to identify it from anyone else’s and the standard water and treats being handed out or else it might be considered fair game to the rest of the competitors.
Runners are to collect their race numbers from Registration which will be open from 9am on race day.
Refreshments will be on sale after the race, including pasties and hot drinks; tea, coffee and hot chocolate. The bar will also be open offering cold drinks.
Competitors are urged to check the weather forecast and wear appropriate clothing, especially during wet or cold conditions.
The use of hydration packs and sun cream are recommended for warm weather.
Should the weather be dry for a few days before the event then road trainers will be adequate but for wet weather & muddy conditions trail shoes are recommended.
Please do not enter the Welfare Club in muddy trainers and running gear, you will get me into TROUBLE!
The course will be well sign posted but not marshalled, no maps or navigation skills will be required.
Please be aware the trails are open to the general public at all times and expect to see walkers, dog owners, cyclists, people horse riding, tractors and farm vehicles. We ask that you are courteous to all other trail users, they have as much right to use the trails as us runners.
There are no road closures so for the short road sections of the course on Old Hall Mill Lane, The Avenue, Green Lane and while crossing Queensway & Squires Lane please look out for traffic and use the Green Cross Code.
On the road sections of the course, runners must keep on the footpaths at all times.
Race limit 80 in total for both full and half marathon places. There is a 6 hour time limit.
Entrants must be 18 years old on race day.
Medals to all finishers. Trophies to male and female winners of the full marathon.
See the entry form for further details.
The event is held under UK Athletics rules.
Trail Running Association Permit Number 349.
For runners looking for medial advise please follow the link to the Runners Medical Resource Website.
Money raised from this event will be donated to the Christie Hospital to help them in their fight against cancer and to the Brathay Trust for their work with vulnerable young people.
I wish you all the very best and hope you enjoy the event.