Crossbow alert issued at beauty spot

Colin Riley at Lady Mabel's Wood
Colin Riley at Lady Mabel's Wood

A crossbow alert has been issued after two people were seen firing the lethal weapon at a beauty spot in Wigan.

Walkers and families using Lady Mabel’s Wood, at Haigh, have been advised to contact the police if the pair are spotted again.

An initial warning was posted on the Facebook site for the wood’s feeding station earlier this week.

Now the Woodland Trust, which manages the wood, originally part of the Red Rose Community Forest, has also voiced concerns about the incident.

The feeding station post reads: "It has been reported that two people have been loading and firing a crossbow in Lady Mabel’s Wood this afternoon (Monday) between 2pm and 3.30pm."

The first person spotted with the weapon was said to be a girl in her late teens, dressed in dark clothing.

And the second was said to be heavily built, wearing a white t-shirt, black pants and a black trilby hat. Eyewitnesses were unsure whether the second person was a man or woman. One of them may have been carrying a backpack.

"This area is full of dog walkers and families during the school holidays and is not a place to be firing crossbows," said the spokesman.

Another sighting placed the pair sitting on a bench near the rugby playing fields, around the same time.

Colin Riley, site manager for the Woodland Trust said: "The presence of any prohibited firearms in our woods is cause for great concern.

"Therefore, if anyone does spot such activity when visiting our wood, we advise that they do not approach the person in question, but contact the police immediately.

"If anyone has further information, we urge them to share this with the police as well."

Coun Chris Ready, who represents the Aspull Whelley New Springs ward on Wigan Council, and is cabinet member for communities, also expressed concerns regarding the crossbow incident.

He added: "It is quite disturbing when you hear reports like this but this is the first I’ve heard of it. I would hope that the police have been informed and if anyone has any information regarding this matter they will contact local officers."

The maximum sentence for possession of an offensive weapon is six months custody.

The wood was first planted in 1995 and is named after a daughter of the adjoining Haigh estate.

Birds such as kestrels, reed buntings, green woodpeckers and mistle thrushes and butterflies like the large and small skipper, peacock and speckled wood can be spotted in season.