Offlist Walk: Burbo Bank to Formby

5 11 2010
5th November 2010
with work (Shan, Chris, Susan, Paula, Jeanette & Dimitris)
8.0 miles
Explorer 285 (Southport & Chorley)
Cloudy, light showers

We had previously decided to take in a walk around the Foulridge/Nelson area of Lancashire, but a lack of transport options led us to looking closer to home (somewhere accessible by local transport) and so we arrived at this walk, which I had done a variation of 18 months previously. The walk is linear and variable as it follows the MerseyTravel Northern line up towards Southport, we’ll walk as far as we like and then catch the train back to Hall Road station.

We start from the northern end of the Burbo Bank carpark at Crosby beach. The tide is at its highest – and only one or two of Anthony Gormley’s iron men are visible – and even they only fleetingly so – whenever the swell is at its lowest. The weather had been very wet all week and so we were grateful for the dry start, solid white cloud overhead; although there was a stiff breeze coming in over the Irish Sea it wasn’t actually that cold and for some of us the coats were quickly stashed away. The first mile is easy going along wide tarmaced path in-between the coast and the West Lancs Golf Club, but as the path turns in land to become Gorsey lane – we turn off to the north and head through the sand hills towards the thin band of green between Hightown and the coast. There are dogs (and dog walkers aplenty). When we get to Hightown boat club we decide to follow the path to the “submerged forest” which very quickly brings us to the start of the Alt estuary. We follow the beach here until it curls eastward and the Alt actually begins to look like a river rather than a channel in the sand.

After picking our way through a rather muddy riverside path we emerge onto an access road for Altcar Rifle Range which we follow until we get to the gate, here we turn down a snicket which leads us to both the main entrance of the rifle range, and the railway. A narrow path leads north between the range and the railway for about a mile, along which we find the curiously positioned bench in memory of Arthur Pugh, it faces a high hedge, and even if the hedge were not there – it would face thick woodland! Strange that they didn’t place it the other way round where at least it would oversee the Lancashire plain. Along this path, level with the old railway power station we turn to the west again, still skirting around the rifle range, passing a group out shooting (we suspect shooting birds as they had dogs ferreting in the undergrowth).

As we near the coast we pass a flock of Herdwick sheep, I believe these sheep winter on the Sefton coast as their grazing forms an important part of a programme for conserving this rather rare ecosystem. We hit the coast right next to the northern end of the rifle range and begin to walk slowly up the beach, the tide had gone out somewhat by now and there is plenty of firm damp sand to walk on so the going is easy. We take our time walking up though the Raven Meols Hills Nature Reserve as one of the party scours the beach for washed up coal (resulting in as much coal as one can reasonably carry in a Tesco carrier bag), and the rest of us either kick a tennis ball along, or crunch empty razor clam shells. We really are fortunate with the weather – it may be windy but I’ve been on this beach in the summer and been colder. As we get to Formby Point it starts to rain lightly and we decide not to push our luck. We walk through the dunes and out into a car park and then onto Lifeboat Road. Chris leads us through a plantation on the edge of a caravan park as we attempt to shelter from the increasingly heavy rain, we emerge into Formby by Shorrocks Hill, pass St.Lukes church and then on to the Railway pub right next to Formby station. After a large lunch, and a few drinks we pile back onto the train and return to Hall Road.

photo from Google Earth




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