This is a “Robin Tong” inspired near Formby. It covers ground we’ve walked before but has been lengthened by getting the train down the coast. Most people head to Crosby to see the Antony Gormley artwork (worth a visit) and walk north to Formby but we’ll be doing the opposite, because we don’t like to follow the trend. The walk will start from Freshfield Station where there is free parking (for rail users), we’ll be aiming for the 10:24 to Southport. It’s worth arriving nearer 10:00 as you’ll need to get your gear/boots/sandles sorted and purchase a ticket from the station’s ticket office before getting on the train. After a short journey (7-8 mins) we’ll leave the train at the second stop, a place called Hillside, and start the walk.
From the train station we’ll double back on ourselves heading between the golf courses of Hillside and Royal Birkdale (host of the Open Golf Championships). This leads us to a beautiful area of sand dunes where we’ll use a combination of sun and our pigeon instincts to navigate a scenic route back to civilisation. Following the Sefton Coastal-Footpath we’ll briefly walk alongside the Coastal Road (for all you road fans) before crossing over into the main Aisndale Sand Dunes. This part of the route is open to interpretation, we’ve got a gate to aim for but how we get there doesn’t matter, as long as we do get there eventually. This will lead us into the Ainsdale Sand Dunes National Nature Reserve where we’ll ignore the paths and head into the forest. Please be warned this is an excellent spot for a fir cone fight, so you enter this area at your own risk. Having joined the popular cycle route we’ll head back into the forest and look for an excellent lunch spot in the shelter of the pine trees. Depending on whether I can find the path, we might head off piste a little to join the Long Slack path, joining onto the Old Fishermans Path, then the Dune Path North before appearing on the beach. The next 30 mins of the walk is along the beach, so bring you’re beach entertainment i.e. ghetto blaster, windbreak and sand in your chips. When we reach the crowds we’ll head inland into the red squirrel sanctuary, which has toilet facilities. Lastly we’ll head back through Formby, admiring the big houses whilst keeping an eye out for our football heroes and arriving back at the cars. There is an opportunity for an Ikea trip on the way home as you will be passing it.
The Plan- 10:00 : Meet
- 10:15 : Buy Train Ticket
- 10:24 : Board Train
- 10:32 : Arrive at Hillside and Start Walk
- 11:00 : Ainsdale and Birkdale Nature Reserve
- 12:30 : Start Lunch
- 12:45 : Finish Lunch
- 13:30 : Formby Beach
- 14:30 : Finish Walk
The Kit- Clothes suitable for the conditions
- Walking boots
- Rucksack (to carry stuff)
- A good attitude