Formby in Winter

Formby in Winter


Formby is a civil parish and town within the Metropolitan Borough of Sefton in Merseyside, England. It has a population of approximately 25,000, measured at the 2011 Census as 22,419.

Historically in Lancashire, three manors are recorded in the Domesday Book under "Fornebei" as Halsall, Walton and Poynton. The town's early recorded industry points to cockle raking and shrimp fishing (in addition to arable ventures) which last through into the 19th century. By 1872, the township and sub-district was made up of two chapelries (St. Peter and St. Luke), and contained Birkdale township, the hamlets of Ainsdale and Raven-Meols and Altcar parish. Formby was built on the plain adjoining the Irish Sea coast a few miles north of the Crosby channel where the sands afford shelter to the towns.

Erosion of sand on the beach at Formby is revealing layers of mud and sediment, laid down in the late Mesolithic to the late Neolithic, approximately 8,000 – 5,000 years ago, and covered in the early Bronze Age. These sediments often contain the footprints of humans and animals (red deer, roe deer, wild boar, wolf, aurochs) and birds (oystercatcher, crane and other waders) from that period. In June 2016, over 50 human footprints from 7000 years ago were uncovered on the beach.

The common place-name suffix -by is from the Scandinavian byr meaning "homestead", "settlement" or "village". The village of Formby was originally spelt Fornebei and means "the old settlement" or "village belonging to Forni". At that time Fornibiyum was also a well-known Norse family name. He could have been the leader of the invading expedition which took possession of this coast.

It was from Ireland in about 960 AD that these Norsemen or Vikings first came to the west coast of Lancashire, initially trading or raiding and then settling. Tradition says that the Viking invaders failed to defeat the native Anglo-Saxons on the coast of Formby, so they sailed inland, up the River Alt, and attacked from the rear. Dangus Lane, on the east side of the village, is sometimes called Danesgate Land, being connected by local traditions with this incursion.

Formby Hall is located to the north-east of Formby in secluded woodland adjoining the Formby Hall Golf and Country Club. The present house, built for William Formby, dates back to 1523 but it is believed that the Formby family has occupied the site since the 12th century.

Over the years the hall has seen many owners and occupants. Many modifications and additions have been made to the original building. For example, the battlements were added in the 18th century by John Formby who took inspiration from the Gothic-style architecture of Horace Walpole's home at Twickenham. In 1896, the hall was modernised by Colonel John Formby who added the West Wing drawing room.

The hall was inherited by successive generations of sons of the Lord of the Manor. This chain ended in 1958 upon the death of Colonel John Frederic Lonsdale Formby whose sons had both died during the Second World War. The estate was inherited by an Australian nephew but then fell into disrepair. In the 1970s, John Moores Junior leased the hall and the lands and used it as a home to house children from the crowded areas of inner city Liverpool. In the 1980s the hall was once again disused and fell into dereliction.

It was during this period (or earlier) that the house acquired the paintings on the walls that became part of local folklore, most notably the large, striking painting of a woman's face above a fireplace on the house's west side. Executed in household paint, the face was reputed to be the centre of strange phenomena. The painting was removed or destroyed during the early part of the renovations in 1990.

After this, Richard Irving acquired the whole Formby estate. At that time it was a run down collection of derelict buildings and overgrown land. After two years of being frustrated by the local planners, he sold the Hall to another local businessman, who bought it as ‘site as seen’ without even conducting a survey and has since restored the hall to its former glory. The remaining land was sold to other local businessmen who developed a golf course.

Formby Beach is the location of the first lifeboat station in the UK. It is believed to have been established as early as 1776 by William Hutchinson, the Dock Master for the Liverpool Common Council. Although no exact record has been found, the boat used is believed to have been a 'Mersey Gig'. The last launch from the station took place in 1916. Remarkably, a film of this event survived. The foundations of the last of the lifeboat station buildings remain on the beach to this day. In 2016, the newly opened Wetherspoons pub in the town was named 'The Lifeboat' in honour of the original lifeboat station.

Formby is home to RAF Woodvale, a small RAF station on the outskirts of the town. The airfield opened in 1941 and is a former Second World War fighter station with three active runways, the main runway being a mile in length. Today it is used by RAF for light aircraft and fighter training, as well as a few civilian aircraft. The station was also home to Merseyside Police's helicopter, known as 'Mike One'. The RAF station was also home to the last ever operational service of the British legend, the Supermarine Spitfire. In 1957 the last Spitfire to fly with British military markings took off from RAF Woodvale on an operational mission. Woodvale is also home to the Woodvale Rally, one of the biggest shows on an active MOD station in the North West.

Holy Trinity Church is believed to be the only church in the country which holds a special service in which seasonal greenery collected by the menfolk of the parish and then twined into wreaths by the ladies is lifted into place as part of a service of worship in the run-up to Christmas.

Formby has a significant tourist industry, most notably between the warmer months of May and September. In particular, it is popular with day trippers from Liverpool and other industrial towns in Merseyside and West Lancashire. There are two main spots along the Formby Coast which are particularly popular with the public.

The Lifeboat Road site is about 1½ miles from the town centre; there are three linked unpaved car parks with several routes cascading out into the sand dunes and woods. The car parks are about 900 yards from the beach.

Victoria Road is north of Lifeboat Road and is busier due to the red squirrel reserve being located here, as well as it being the starting point for the asparagus trail. The reserve begins at the junction of Larkhill Lane and Victoria Road. There is a charge to park from this point onwards. Parking is available adjacent to the reserve and at the end of the road there is a large unpaved car park for easier beach access. The beach is located approximately 100 yards from the car park.

There is a privately run caravan park called Formby Point Caravan Park on Lifeboat Road, open between March and October. There are around 300 caravans on the park and 20 plots for touring caravans. There is a phone box, public toilet and a play area on site and, until 1995, there was a small convenience store. Additionally, there is a smaller caravan site called Freshfield Caravan Park.

As one of the fastest changing coastlines that National Trust cares for, Formby featured as a case study in both the original and 2015 Shifting Shores report. The sand dunes here are in constant motion as they roll back inland naturally at a rate of 4 metres a year. This motion gives us some of the best mobile sand dune habitat in the UK and creates homes for some very rare wildlife including Natterjack Toads, Sand Lizards and Northern Dune Tiger Beetles. It also produces a steep sided sand wall that acts as an excellent natural sea defence for the residential area of Formby. However, the movement can create complications too as paths, car parks and other features inland become buried as the sand dunes roll back.

*  Wildlife  *

The Sefton Coast has for very many years been of great interests to those interested in natural history. There are few places in Britain which can show such extensive areas of natural sand dunes and sand dune succession. This makes for a very specialized area and with it comes highly adapted plants and animals.

The world of butterflies is available to all who walk the Sefton Coast with their eyes open. Over the spring and summer months in most years twenty different species of butterflies can be seen out of the sixty six or so which are seen as British. With a little luck a further three occur here.

Moths in general are thought to be night fliers but in fact well over 200 of the 1,050 species recorded on the coast are day flies. The Liverpool World Museum houses a very comprehensive collection of some 120,000 moths and over 97% of all known British species and a complete collection of all British butterflies. Literature in their Entomology Library and data on the specimens show clear evidence of records going back to the late 1800s of moths seen locally. Formby, over the years has had amongst its residents many eminent and nationally known entomologists.

Whilst it is true that most butterflies and some moths are seen flying in the summer months there are six butterflies can be seen now. Tortoiseshell Aglais urticae, Peacock Inachis io and Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta which have successfully hibernated and are now enjoying the spring sunshine. Brimstone Gonepteryx rhamni, Orange-tip Anthocharis cardamines, Comma Polygonia c-album and very soon the first generation of Holly Blue Celastrina argiolus will be joining them. Around thirty different species of moths are out now but most will not be seen during the daytime. A cursory look on the wall near a security light or against a lighted window may well be rewarding. The number seen will rise rapidly as summer approaches.

However a spectacular day flying moth may be seen at the moment along the length of the coast and also on the heather areas off Larkhill Lane and Freshfield Dune Heath. This is Emperor Sturnia pavonia, the female with a 80mm wingspan and the male, smaller, but usually seen flying strongly in the sunshine looking for a freshly emerged female. The eggs are laid on heather Calluna vulgaris or bramble Rubus fruticosus on which the larvae will feed during the summer months before spinning a cocoon in which the pupae overwinters to create the next generation.

Formby is most famous for its Red Squirrels but did you know that it is also home to animals that are even more rare? These beautiful and elusive creatures make their homes in the fragile mobile dune habitats of the Sefton coast where their presence has helped the area to gain both UK and international conservation designations.

  • Natterjack Toad.
  • This enigmatic amphibian is nocturnal and can be found in dune pools, or slacks, on warm nights during their breeding season from April to July. The males come to the pools first and call to the females using their distinctive ratchet-like song. These calls can be heard up to a mile away and have given rise to the Natterjack Toad’s local name - the Birkdale Nightingale. The female toads lay strings of spawn in the pools from which tadpoles hatch out. As the dune pools are shallow and warm, the tadpoles develop quickly and the young toadlets have usually all left the pools by late Summer.
  • Sand Lizard.
  • This colourful lizard can be quite hard to spot as it is very shy and has excellent camouflage. It likes areas that have a mixture of both bare sand and grasses and is probably most easily spotted when basking on the sand in the early morning sun. Although both sexes are beautiful, it is the male that is particularly striking with his bright green sides. The female is brown with a patterned back and can often be mistaken for a Common Lizard, a species that is also an inhabitant of the Sefton dunes.
  • Great Crested Newt.
  • If you’ve ever thought you’d spotted a tiny dragon swimming around the pools at Formby then you’ve probably caught a glance of a male Great Crested Newt in his breeding outfit. This is the largest of the UK newt species and is most likely to be seen in the dune pools during the breeding season from March to June. At this time of year you can easily tell Great Creasted Newts from other newt species due to the male’s bright orange belly and the impressive crest down his back. Out of the breeding season you can occasionally find these rare newts hiding under fallen logs in the woodlands.

    All of these animals are heavily protected and it is an offence to pick up, disturb, harm or kill either the animals themselves or their eggs, or to disturb or destroy their breeding or resting places.

  • Red Squirrels
  • Red Squirrels were once a common sight across the UK but, since the introduction of the North American Grey Squirrel in the 19th Century, their numbers have declined. Formby and the Sefton Coast is one of the few places in England where Red Squirrels have survived and sightings of this charming little animal provide joy to local residents and visitors alike.
  • Reds v Greys.
  • It is a common misconception that Grey Squirrels physically attack Red Squirrels and this has caused the decline of the Reds but the truth is a bit more complex. One of the issues is competition for food, Grey Squirrels are more efficient at feeding in broadleaf woodlands than Reds and being bigger they eat more which reduces the food available to the Reds. Another benefit of being bigger is that the Greys can store more fat in their bodies which gives them a better chance of surviving through the cold winter months. Space is also an issue in the battle between Red and Grey Squirrels as Grey Squirrels can live in a much higher density than Red Squirrels thereby effectively “pushing” the Reds out of an area.

    However, perhaps the most devastating impact that Grey Squirrels have had is the introduction of the Squirrel Pox virus. Grey Squirrels appear to have a natural immunity to this disease but they can be carriers. If infected Grey Squirrels live alongside Red Squirrels then the disease can be passed between the species. Once in the Red Squirrel population this disease can have a catastrophic effect with an almost 100% mortality rate in the infected animals.

  • Sefton Coast – a Red Squirrel Stronghold.
  • Red Squirrels Northern England has classified Formby and the wider Sefton Coast as one of the 17 Red Squirrel strongholds in the North of England. The plantation conifer woodlands here make a good habitat for the native Reds as they like to feed on the seeds found in the pine cones. As the pine cones tend to grow near the end of the branches Grey Squirrels struggle to get to them, because of their heavier weight, making this area less attractive for this species to live in.

    National Trust works with a number of partners as part of the Merseyside Red Squirrel Project in order to conserve this much loved species within the local area. Lancashire Wildlife Trust are the co-ordinators of this project. Their staff and volunteers undertake a wide variety of work including Spring and Autumn monitoring, Grey Squirrel control and engaging with the public and local community to spread the word about Red Squirrel conservation. For more information about Lancashire Wildlife Trust’s work for Red Squirrel conservation click here.

  • Formby’s Reds.
  • At National Trust Formby they supplement their Red Squirrels’ natural pine cone diet by putting out a small quantity of peanuts and sunflower seeds in to their specially designed Squirrel feeders. This helps them to monitor the population and also to keep an eye out for any sick or injured squirrels looking for an easy meal. It also has the added bonus of making the squirrels easier to spot for the visitors. They have a fantastic team of volunteers whose role it is to top up the feeders daily and chat to visitors about the Reds as they go around.

    *  Asparagus  *

    The British have enjoyed eating Asparagus since Roman times. Before the Second World War, it was an important crop in the Formby area. Local growers used the port of Liverpool to export their crop around the world by ship. It is rumoured that the culinary delicacy was served to passengers in First Class on the doomed transatlantic liner, “Titanic”.

  • History of Asparagus.
  • Since Roman times, when it was introduced from northern France, the inhabitants of the British Isles have prized asparagus for medicinal purposes both as a diuretic and to aid digestion. Known also as sparrow grass, sparrowgrass and spara gus, it was found growing wild around the eastern and southern coastal fringes of England until the Tudors started growing it in their gardens. Henry the Eighth would have eaten it fresh (boiled and served with butter or cream) but also, out of season (May-June) pickled. The famous diarist, Samuel Pepys, wrote in 1668 that he had partaken of ‘a hundred of sparrowgrass’ for which he had paid one shilling and eight pence. His meal, we are told, consisted of the asparagus accompanied by ‘ a little bit of salmon’. By the 1700s, it was the fashion to eat the asparagus baked inside pastry as a pie called a ‘torte’.
  • Asparagus at Formby.
  • A “History of the County of Lancaster” from 1907 indicates the population of Formby, given as 5642 at the time, cultivating rye, wheat, potatoes and asparagus ‘a speciality in the district’. From 1848, when the railway line running from Southport to the growing metropolis of Liverpool was completed with its convenient stops located at both Formby and Freshfield, these local crops could be easily transported into bustling Liverpool by train.

    At the same time, the train line was solving the growing problem of what to do with Liverpool’s mountain of human excrement. Inspector of Nuisances, the aptly-named Thomas Fresh, was enterprisingly arranging for the waste problem to be relocated - sent out to Formby and Freshfield on the train. Here, local farmers were making good use of the readily available, cheap fertiliser! The asparagus crop grew well on its diet of Liverpool ‘night soil’ and from Liverpool, Formby asparagus was shipped daily by train to London’s Covent Garden and around the world by liner. Indeed, it is said that the doomed First Class passengers on the “Titanic” dined on Formby asparagus before the luxury Atlantic liner fatefully hit the iceberg on her maiden voyage.

  • Prize-winning.
  • In the 1920s and 1930s there were 200 acres under asparagus cultivation in the Formby area. Due to the introduction of improved sewage disposal infrastructure in Liverpool combined with land use competition pressures after the war, the asparagus acreage has sadly reduced to an area of just 5 acres today. However, in the heyday of the 1930s, local farmer Jimmy Lowe won prizes at the prestigious Asparagus Competition, still held annually in Worcestershire’s Vale of Evesham, on no fewer than five occasions! Formby Asparagus was top class!

    *  Asparagus Walk  *

    Discover how this one crop helped to shape the Formby you see today. The walk is short and achievable for most people so get out and enjoy it! Classified as easy and dog friendly, the walk should take about an hour and a half. It is 2.8 miles (4.4 kilometres) long.

  • Start: The main notice board opposite the toilets at National Trust Formby.
  • 1. Take the path to the right-hand side of the notice board and, after a very short distance, turn right at the first path junction. Continue on and where the path turns left on to a boardwalk, leave this path and take the path straight ahead.
  • 2. Continue along this path, pass the family picnic site (which is on your left-hand side) and take the next path on your left (approximately 80 yards (75m) further) through a gate into a small field. Cross the field and leave through another gate. Turn left onto a wide path. Follow this path as it makes a sharp turn right and continue on.
  • Asparagus cultivation.
  • Asparagus cultivation has left its mark on the landscape of Formby which can still be seen today. The areas of flat land and fields that you see throughout this site aren't natural but are areas where the land has been levelled in the past for the growing of asparagus. Since the end of asparagus farming in the 1990s these fields have been left to grass over, however the remnants of the cultivation fields can still be seen today as ridges and furrows.

  • 3. At a T-junction turn left and follow a grass/sand path through a small area of woodland into an open field, where more remnants of asparagus cultivation can be seen. Continue straight on across the field and at the far side take the path which leads straight ahead (ignoring the paths to the left and right) up a slope into pine woodland. After a short distance pass by a bench seat, with a carving of a red squirrel, on your right.
  • 4. At the brow of the hill, the path forks. Take the left fork and continue down, passing an enclosed pine plantation on your right followed by a small field where asparagus may be seen growing in the months of May and June. At the end of this track, pass through a field gate onto a road. Turn right along Blundell Avenue. After a short distance cross the road taking a clear path on the left, past wooden bollards, onto an open field.
  • 5. Continue on following the right edge of the field. At the end of the open field, pass through a kissing gate adjacent to a field gate into an enclosed field. Heather grows here with other plants typical of dune heath.
  • Keep our asparagus heritage.
  • The field adjacent to Larkhill fields is part of Larkhill Farm which is one of the few places where asparagus is still grown in Formby. The sandy soil and climate of this area are ideal for growing asparagus as it needs well-drained soils and open sunny fields. It is a high-maintenance crop that needs regular weeding and very careful harvesting, tasks which are still carried out by hand today as they would have been a century ago.

  • 6. Once through the gate take the left of two wide paths heading straight ahead (ignore the smaller path which hugs the fence-line on your left). Follow this path as it curves to the left, passing through a small stand of birches, and meets a fence corner by some cottages. At the fence corner follow the clear path round to the right and head towards a kissing gate next to a field gate. Pass through the gate on to a farm track.
  • Buy a bunch.
  • In the months of May and early June, you may like to make a short detour along the track to the right to buy a bunch of Formby asparagus from the Brooks family at Larkhill Farm. The Brooks family have grown asparagus in Formby for a number of generations and work hard to keep the tradition of Formby asparagus alive. Some of the asparagus for sale from Larkhill Farm is grown on our land. To return to the walk retrace your steps to the gate at the end of point 6 and continue from point 7.

  • 7. Cross the track and pass through a kissing gate into a small field. Take the path straight ahead across the length of the field to a kissing gate in the far left corner. Pass through the gate and emerge onto Wicks Lane. Cross in front of the large gates and turn right, passing through some metal barriers onto a broad bridle-path.
  • 8. Follow this enclosed path, passing a primary school and a housing estate on your left, until you pass two wooden bollards set into the path. After the bollards the path forks, take the permissive bridle path on the right with the blue-topped way-markers. Follow this path as it curves left and comes out of the woodland onto an open field with a fine view of sand dunes straight ahead in the distance.
  • 9. At this point leave the bridlepath (which turns right into the pine woods) and take the middle path of three broad grass paths heading across the field towards the sand dunes. After passing a small fenced plantation of pines on your right you'll reach a wide stone path, this is the Sefton Coastal Path. Turn right along this stone path, immediately passing a fenced field on your left.
  • Green sheep.
  • During the summer months there are a number of fields here that are home to a small flock of Hebridean and Herdwick sheep. The sheep graze these areas for conservation purposes by closely grazing the faster-growing grasses to allow a variety of wildflowers to flourish.

  • 10. Continue on the stone path as it enters broadleaf woodland. After a short distance you will come to a crossroads, go straight across and follow the path until it reaches a T-junction and turn left along a wide path. Continue along this path as it passes a fenced agricultural field on the right and curves right into pine woodland.
  • National Trust asparagus
  • The field on the right is a recently planted asparagus field which is part of the Trust's Sandfield Farm. This field is tenanted to the Brooks family, who own Larkhill Farm, with the aim of continuing the asparagus-growing tradition on this land. It also gives a first-hand view of how the asparagus cultivation areas of Formby would have looked in years gone by and how asparagus cultivation changed this landscape.
  • 11. Follow this wide path as it makes a sharp left-hand bend and continue along past open pine woodland on your left and an enclosed pine plantation on your right. At the end of the plantation the landscape on your right opens out to dune grassland. Continue along this path, ignoring all paths going off to your left and right, crossing a very sandy section where the sand dunes meet the path on your left.
  • 12. Immediately after the sandy section the path forks. Take the right fork, passing a bench. After a short distance follow this path as it curves left, passing wooden bollards, into broadleaf woodland. Follow this clear compacted woodland path. After approximately ¼ mile (0.4km) the path forks, take the right/lower level fork to pass the picnic site that you passed at point 2. Continue straight on as the path narrows.
  • 13. At a path junction on a fenced trail, instead of retracing your steps from the start of the walk, turn right and take the boardwalk path. Follow this boardwalk as it bends round to the left and up a slope. At the end of the boardwalk continue to the top of the slope where you will find a crossroads. Take the fenced path on your left and follow this as it bends round sharply to the left. Shortly after the bend take the path going off to the right to return to the walk start.
  • Red Squirrels.
  • National Trust Formby is part of the Sefton stronghold for the native red squirrel, one of 17 strongholds in the north of England. Autumn and spring are when the squirrels are most active but they can be seen out and about in these woodlands all year round. Keep a look-out for the feeders in the trees as this is often a good place to catch a glimpse of these shy creatures. Did you see the asparagus sculpture on your trip?
  • End: The main notice board opposite the toilets at National Trust Formby.
  • *  Shipwrecks at Formby Point  *

    Shipwrecks off the coast at Formby Point tell moving stories about the area's maritime history. National Trust volunteer, Dom Delacroix, joins Sefton Coast ranger John Dempsey to learn about this history and shares his experience here.

    'It was with trepidation that our noble band of volunteers gathered at Lifeboat Rd and met with our be-barnacled master of ceremonies for our shipwreck walk and the oracle of all things maritime and sunken, John Dempsey.

    The conditions were clear and still and as we made our way across the rippled, rigid sands for a 1 kilometre walk towards the wreck of the Ionic Star we were informed that although, super-saturated sinking sand is not a possibility on this part of the Sefton Coast, the incoming tide and its’ accompanying eddies and gullies were still treacherous and the correct timing for visiting the wrecks was of paramount importance and wellington boots an essential accoutrement.

    The Ionic Star is a skeletal series of rusty and blackened outcrops, a memory in rusting metal of a time when she followed the trade routes across the equator and down to South America. She is by far the most complete of the wrecks visible from the coast. The ship was calling into Liverpool with a refrigerated cargo of meat, cotton and fruit when she ran aground in 1939. This error may have been in part due to the fact that all navigation lights were turned off due to the advent of WW2 making things considerably more difficult for the errant captain and crew.

    Her Blue Star Line sister ship, the Doric Star, was sunk by the German Battleship the Graf Spee only a few weeks later. The Ionic Star was partly salvaged for scrap, despite the narrow window of access due to the changing tides, after she went down on the edge of the infamous Mad Wharf sandbank in October 1939. The remnants were then used as target practice by the RAF and what remains is brittle and melancholic, an eerie and forlorn memory of a former era clinging to the shifting sands.

    Not far from the remains of the Ionic Star is a lump of metal and a line of wooden spars that is all that remains of the Bradda, which came to grief in 1936, claiming the lives of all but one of her crew. The Bradda was taking a shipment of coal to Ireland in bad weather when she ran aground shortly after leaving Liverpool. The crew from the Isle of Man, under Captain Cregeen, put up flares and lit rags soaked in paraffin in a bid to attract other shipping to their plight, but the ship had been washed over the navigation channel wall. When she listed, the crew were washed into the sea. Samuel Ball was the sole survivor. The tragic loss of life makes the remains of the Bradda a poignant place on the Sefton Coast. Her engine block and spars are reclaimed by the tides every day- a reminder of how fierce and unforgiving the sea can be, even in the shallow waters of Liverpool Bay.

    The sun was setting and the tide was turning and it was time return to dry land whist it was still safe to do so and it only remained to thank John Dempsey for his informative enthusiasm and log the tales we had heard in our memories to pass on to other volunteers and visitors the stories of the Sefton Coast ship wrecks.

    ** Visiting **

    Information boards are located on Victoria Road, opposite the toilets.

  • • Toilets are available during car park opening hours.
  • • During the school holidays and periods of nice weather the car parks can become full by late morning. Once the car park is full the NT operate a one car out for one car in system and queues and delays to get on to the property can be very long. Please check their website and social media for updates on their car park before your visit.
  • • The NT staffed information trailer is situated in the picnic area adjacent to the woodland car park and is open for you to join , ask or shop from 12 noon until 3pm on weekends and school holidays.
  • • Speciality coffee and hot drinks as well as homemade cakes are available from Squirrel Coffee. The cart is located in the picnic site adjacent to the woodland car park and is open from 9.30am to 4.30pm on Wednesdays to Sundays during term time and everyday during school holidays.
  • • During peak periods, ice creams, soft drinks and snacks are available from ice cream vans on Victoria Road and in the beach car park.
  • • Please keep dogs on a lead on Squirrel Walk and elsewhere on site please keep them under close control and pick up their waste. Please do not allow your dog to chase wildlife or disturb other visitors anywhere on site.
  • Accessibility.

  • • Mobility car park spaces in woodlands and main car park.
  • • Mobility toilet facilities; accessible by RADAR key.
  • • Braille and large print guides available.
  • • Accessible paths in some woodlands and throughout the asparagus trail.
  • • The beach can only be accessed over the sand dunes via a steep, sandy path.
  • Family.

  • • Baby-changing facilities are available in the ladies, gents and mobility toilets during opening hours.
  • • For ideas of things to keep your family occupied on your visit, including 50 things activities and more, please go to their information trailer between 12noon and 3pm at weekends and during the school holidays, situated in the picnic area adjacent to the woodland car park.
  • • 3 picnic areas are easily accessible for families.
  • • Dog free picnic area available.
  • • Pushchair accessible paths through some woodlands and along the asparagus trail.

    Location : Victoria Road, near Formby, Liverpool, L37 1LJ

    Transport: Freshfield (National Rail) then 1 mile. Bus routes 525, 526 and 527 from Bolton Town Centre stop nearby.

    Opening Times: Dawn till Dusk

    Tickets : Beaches Free; Victoria Road Car Park £6.50

    Tel: 01704 878591