The Sefton Coastal Path

The Sefton Coastal Path is a long distance path that follows the coast between the Ribble and the Mersey estuaries. It would be possible for a reasonably fit walker to complete it in a day but this would require a blinkered mind-set where challenge overrides the tendency to “stop and stare”. So for readers who prefer a more leisurely exploration of the countryside the good news is that for the entire length of the trail the route is conveniently close to the Southport-Liverpool Merseyrail service so that you are never too far from a station. This allows you to break the walk down into more manageable sections.


 

Start: Southport

Finish: Crosby

Fact file

Distance: 21 miles 33k

Time: 8 - 11 hours

Grade: Easy apart from its length

Maps: OS Explorer 285 Southport and Ormskirk and Explorer 275 Liverpool

 

Map by kind permission of Johnston Press

 

Sefton Council has produced a leaflet giving details of the route which follows a well waymarked course at times close to roads and for nearly all its length sharing the path with cyclists. See www.visitseftonandwestlancs.co.uk 
 

The official start of the walk is on Marine Drive close to the Crossens Roundabout. These are some of the points of interest to look for.


Marshside RSPB Reserve. (Close to the start) The Ribble Estuary is one of Britain's most significant feeding grounds for wildfowl in winter and nesting grounds for waders in spring and early summer. Imagine the reserve as being the bird equivalent to Heathrow Airport - at certain times of the year it becomes very busy. Especially noteworthy residents are the avocets the species chosen to symbolise the mission and work of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. 

 

Royal Birkdale Golf Club. (Six miles from the start)  The trail joins the promenade with the seaside attractions of the pier and the amusement park. Look out for the tall sign marking the start (or end) of the Trans-Pennine Trail - a 215 mile coast to coast  cycle route between Southport and Hornsea.  

 

Near this landmark is the site of Southport's Eco Centre at the Esplanade Park and Ride facility.  Soon after the Coastal Path reaches the links of the famous golf club. Founded in 1889 Royal Birkdale is regarded as one of the World's top courses. It has hosted the British Open Championship nine times including the 100th in 1971. 

Formby Point.(Twelve miles from the start). South of Birkdale the path passes through an area of sand dunes before entering the Ainsdale Sand Dunes National Reserve.

 

Here dunes and pine woods combine to create a most charming amenity. Readers not wishing to attempt the entire length of the walk are recommended to explore this stretch accessed between Freshfield

 

and Formby stations. The path enters National Trust land at Formby home of a remnant population of red squirrels.

 

Formby Point was the location of the UK's first lifeboat station established in 1776 following a disaster two years before when 18 ships were stranded at the mouth of the Mersey with great loss of life. 

Crosby and "Another Place". (End of the path). South of Formby the Coastal Path swings round to follow the railway line down to Hightown crossing the River Alt on route. At Hightown the way returns to the coast by the estuary of the river. In two miles Hall Road is reached marking the limit of the greater Liverpool conurbation.  Passing by Blundellsands the trail ends at the Marine Lake at Waterloo. Crosby Station is a 10 minute walk from the lake. However before taking the train back to the starting point leave time to experience "Another Place"

 

Anthony Gormley's remarkable art installation comprising of 100 life size moulded iron figures placed along the foreshore of the Mersey estuary. The statues are positioned so that all of them seem to be staring out to sea "in silent expectation". The work was previously displayed in Norway, Denmark and Belgium and there was the possibility it would go to New York. However it has been decided that the statues will be permanently sited on Crosby beach - time and tide permitting.