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Ainsdale and Birkdale Sandhills Nature Reserve

Off Coastal Road, Ainsdale Discovery Centre, Promenade, Ainsdale, Merseyside, PR8 2QB

Add Ainsdale and Birkdale Sandhills Nature Reserve to your Itinerary

Ainsdale beach


The Ainsdale & Birkdale Sandhills Nature Reserve includes the stunning Ainsdale Hills, Birkdale Hills, Frontals, Sands Lake, Velvet Trail and Birkdale Beach and is home to rare dunes, beach and woodland habitats. There are marked footpaths to follow, and so tranquil and wild is the place that you will forget within minutes that you are surrounded by one of the most urban areas in England.

This local Nature Reserve is one of the largest areas of wild dunes left in Britain and is home to a vast diversity of rare, special and beautiful species that you might not have noticed. There is the rare Natterjack Toad, whose astonishing chorus earns it the local name of ‘Birkdale Nightingale’. 

There is the Great Crested Newt, Britain’s most protected species of amphibian, whose numbers are on the increase on the Reserve. Another rare species found on the Reserve is the Sand Lizard, a secretive, shy reptile that is rarely actually seen. Rare wildflowers found on the Reserve include the Dune Helleborine, Seaside Centaury and Yellow Bartsia.

The reserve is particularly rich in plant life and during the summer, damp slacks are carpeted with flowers including Early-marsh Orchid, Marsh Helleborine and Grass of Parnassus. In drier areas the Round-leaved Winter-green and nationally rare Dune Helleborine can be found.

The Ainsdale Discovery Centre is a popular place for visitors. The collection of shells is added to daily by members of the public and all of the many FREE information booklets and brochures are available from the centre.

The nearby Sands Lake Trail is now officially open and the clearly marked boardwalk is particularly suitable for mobility impaired visitors to experience the typical flora and fauna of the coast.

Please take note of beach safety flags and signage.
Byelaws Apply



  • Dogs Accepted - Dogs welcome. Please clean up after your dog at all times. Please keep out of Natterjack Breeding Pools and prevent disturbance to ground-nesting birds in spring and summer.
  • Toilets - Available at Shore Road beach entrance.

Parking & Transport

  • On site parking - Beach parking off Shore Road, Ainsdale Car park charge Easter to September. Season tickets are available. No coaches. Beach parking closed on high tides. Limited parking at Ainsdale Discovery Centre, Royal Birkdale and Weld Road car parks.


Map & Directions

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