Formby and Freshfield
Last updated 26th September 2005
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This walk from Formby to Freshfield along the coast is about 6 miles (9½ km) in length or 7 miles (11½ km) if you take the diversion to see the Red Squirrel Sanctuary. The 3 mile (5 km) stretch along the shore either side of Formby Point can only be described as exhilarating and it is worth trying to schedule the walk near high tide as the presence of the sea makes all the difference. Near the end, the section along the Old Fisherman's Path is a complete contrast, passing through some particularly attractive dunes, woodland and scrub. The route is not circular, but uses the frequent trains back to Formby from Freshfield. The walk can be split in two by using Victoria Road to get to or from Freshfield railway station; the northern (circular) route is 3½ miles (5½ km) and the southern (non-circular) is 4 miles (6½ km). The way is on suburban roads, good tracks, firm sand and short sections of dunes; any sensible shoes will be fine.

The relevant Ordnance Survey 1:25000 Explorer map is No. 285. For further information on the locations visited, click on the images.

Detailed mapping and satellite photography for this walk courtesy of Bing Maps
Printer friendly page for this walk (no photos)

Start at Formby station [1] and walk down to the end of Kirklake Road. Turn left onto St. Luke's Church Road and then right onto Alexandra Road. A short distance along, take the route to the right of a big house, which eventually leaves the woods. Keep straight ahead where the route becomes a narrow sandy trail under some low trees. Ahead of you is a high dune [2] with the sandy route to the top clearly visible. This dune can be by-passed on the right, but it is worth climbing (though hard work) for the extensive 360 degree view, including the shore, the dune hinterland, Liverpool (with the Anglican Cathedral prominent), the hills of north-east Wales, the mountains of Snowdonia, the Great Orme and even, in clear conditions, Anglesey.

Go down to the shore and, if possible, make for the hard sand just below the high water line. Ahead of you to the north is a magnificent expanse of sand, sea and sky. There are named access points all along marked by posts with yellow diamonds on the top. Along the beach, you first come to the ruins of the old lifeboat station [3].

Between the old lifeboat station and the marker post for Blundell Avenue [5] is Formby Point [4], the westernmost part of the Sefton coast, with huge dunes all along. Here, the distant horizon to the north opens up, with Blackpool Tower and roller coaster visible and, further west, the mountains of the Lake District ending in the isolated hump of Black Combe. Past the Blundell Avenue marker, there are blackened stumps of what look like ancient trees on the beach. Near here is the waymarker for the Nicotine Trail, not a special smokers zone but where the tipping of tobacco processing waste, once a major industry in Liverpool, used to take place.

Shortly you reach the waymarker for Victoria Road [7]. The Red Squirrel Sanctuary [8] is about half a mile (1 km) inland along here if you want to make the diversion to see the cute little furry things (not in winter though - hibernation). This route continues to Freshfield station if you are doing one of the shorter walks. Past the Victoria Road waymarker is an area of scattered eroded housing rubble [9]. This is where some old fishermen's cottages were washed into the sea, a reminder of the dynamic nature of the coastline here.

The final stretch along the shore passes several waymarkers before reaching that for the Fisherman's Path [10], just before a huge dune. Head across the broad sandy gap in the dunes here. Keep more or less at right angles to the shoreline, aiming for the left-hand end of some pinewoods ahead, and you should spot a small red-topped waymarker. Just past this, you should see a better defined sandy path towards the woods. At the edge of the woods are some information boards where the Fisherman's path (red-topped waymarkers) heads off into the woods. After a few yards, look out for a smaller path on the left with black-topped waymarkers. This is the Old Fisherman's Path, which starts off concurrent with the north Dunes Path but soon branhes off on its own to the right. It passes through a beautiful tranquil area of woods and scrubland before eventually meeting up with the Fisherman's Path coming in from the right.

Turn left onto the Fisherman's Path through a wood of tall pine trees. Pass through a gate and carefully cross the golf course to reach the railway line [11]. This is an unsupervised crossing - obey the instructions given and take care. Once over, take the path off to the right that diverges from the railway line past a fine field of heather [12].

Cross over a bridleway, where the path runs behind some houses and turns into Rimmers Avenue. On the right at the end of Rimmers Avenue is the Freshfield Hotel [13], a good unpretentious pub with excellent value food and an exceptional range of real ales; just what might be called for at this stage of the walk. Past the pub, go down little Gregsons Avenue, turn left into Argarmeols Road and right into Victoria Road. Freshfield station [14] is just here for the short train journey back to Formby station.