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An ancient Celtic settlement, Wigan stands on the River Douglas with its face to the Pennine foothills, 8 miles south-west of Bolton and 20 miles from the South Lancashire coast. Described in 1698 as 'a pretty market town built of stone and brick', Wigan was radically transformed by the first and second industrial revolutions and, for a century or more, cotton was king. While it is well-known for its pies, its mint balls, its cup-winning rugby and soccer teams, its icons of music, stage and screen, and its thick jam butties, Wigan is even more famous for its semi-mythical pier. But after 2,000 years of constant change, there is much more of interest and even of timeless, sylvan beauty in this old town and its surrounding villages.