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The Sefton Coastal Path

Marshside RSPB Bird Watching, Southport, Merseyside, PR9 9PJ

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Formby dunes


The Sefton Coastal Path is a stimulating journey through a wonderful variety of landscapes with a rich biodiversity of wildlife and a fascinating history. Sandy beaches, coastal marshes, pine woodlands, heathery heathland and tidal estuaries with invigorating vistas across the Irish Sea to North Wales, Snowdonia and even the Lake District on a clear day.

The Sefton Coastal Path can be walked throughout and parts are cycle-friendly. It can easily be completed over a weekend based in Southport, or it can be broken up into individual short walks as desired. The suggested stages are summarised below.

Stage One - Crossens to Ainsdale
The route is flanked by the salt marshes of the Ribble which are managed by Natural England and Sefton Council and are suitable for cycling. Attractions include Marshside RSPB Reserve – one of the country’s top reserves for breeding wading birds; Southport’s wonderful pier, Marine Lake, The Promenade, Lord Street shopping and dining; the brand new suspension bridge; the Ocean Plaza complex and the Queen’s Jubilee Nature Trail. Southport’s extensive events programme includes the Southport Flower Show and the Southport Air Show.

Stage Two - Ainsdale to Hall Road
(Cycling allowed in part, only between Hightown - Hall Road) Features Royal Birkdale Golf Course, the venue for The Open in 2008; Ainsdale Discovery Centre, headquarters of Sefton Council’s Coast & Countryside Service; Sands Lake Nature Trail and several top rated nature reserves with Grass of Parnassus, wild Orchids, rare butterflies, Sand Lizards, Natterjack Toads, plus hordes of shorebirds in winter. Formby Point has four more excellent nature reserves; the National Trust’s famous Red Squirrel Reserve; the site of the UK’s oldest lifeboat station; magnificent sand dunes and pine woodlands; the tidal mudflats of the River Alt, yet more shorebirds and a church with a unique stained glass window featuring the wildlife of the Sefton Coast.

Stage Three - Hall Road to Crosby Marine Park
Features the site of an old fort; the only shingle beach in Sefton; birdlife in abundance; the evocative sculptures of Antony Gormley’s ‘Another Place’ - 100 iron figures stretching along two miles of the beach from the mouth of the Mersey to the River Alt. There’s also the magnificent Georgian villas of the 20th century sea captains overlooking Crosby Marine Park and the port of Liverpool, with its towering container cranes, wind turbines and ships from all over the world.

Route distance: 33.6km

Route Key Points:
Marshside RSPB Reserve
Southport Pier & Pavilion
Eco Centre (WC Facilities)
Royal Birkdale Golf Club
Ainsdale Discovery Centre (WC Facilities)
Highest Sand Dunes: Big Balls Hill
Formby Red Squirrel Reserve
Aintree Racecourse
Alt Estuary
Antony Gormley’s ‘Another Place’

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Map & Directions

Road Directions

From Southport, follow coast road north (1.5 miles or 2.5 km from Southport Pier) to small car park by sand works.

Public Transport Directions

Southport - follow London Street till it joins Lord Street and then go straight across Lord Street and on down Nevill Street to the Promenade; turn right to follow Marine Lake to its northern end; turn left onto Fairway and then right on to Marine Drive. Reserve begins at Hesketh Road after 0.6 mile (1 km; first turning on right). Total distance 1.8 miles (3 km).  

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