Since winning the accolade of the capital of culture in 2008, millions have visited Liverpool. But how many have ventured outside the city centre to walk the Sefton Coastal Path?
This underrated coast path is 21 miles long on the outskirts of Liverpool. It hugs the stunning coastline, skirts a prehistoric forest, and passes through a red squirrel reserve and a Victorian seaside town.
I know this path well because it is on my doorstep. I walked all of it back in the day, but I’m pushing Bridget along parts of it now, but there’s no way I could do it now.
The best place to start your walk is at the Lakeside Adventure Centre in Crosby. The multi-purpose centre is a recent addition to the marine park.
It has a water sports centre where you can learn to sail, a restaurant and fast food outlet, hotel rooms if you fancy staying for a few days, a large children’s play area and is ideally situated for day trips to Liverpool and Southport.
The Sefton Coastal Path
The coastal path is a well-marked route. The best place to start if you’re using a wheelchair is next to the car park with the docks on your left. If you can walk, you can access the beach by cutting through the dunes on the far side of the boating lake.
Once on the seafront, you’ll be met with stunning views of Liverpool to the left, New Brighton and North Wales to the front and as far as the eye can see, beach and dunes to the right.
I never get tired of the views across Liverpool Bay; even the wind farms add something to the panorama.
If you’re able to, drop down onto the beach. Spend some time with Antony Gormley’s iron men. If not, stay on the tarmac promenade and walk parallel to the coast.
Be warned; it gets windy on this stretch of coast, so wrap up well and watch out for swirling sand.
At just under 2 miles, you’ll come across Crosby Leisure Centre. At first sight, it looks like a spaceship landed behind the dunes (keep an eye out). If you need a rest, refreshments or even a swim, pop in, it’s pretty cheap.
At this point, there’s an access ramp down to the beach; you can look closely at Antony Gormley’s iron men (100 in total).
I particularly like the ones dressed by the locals; they show off the Scouse sense of humour. Most men have taken on a natural decoration of barnacles and seaweed. This means whenever you visit, you’ll see something unique.
A bit further on, there’s a well-used car park. It’s a haven for ship watchers and has a mobile snack bar and public toilets (small charge or radar key).
At the time of writing (August 2015), the car park is free; rumour has it the council is planning on levying a charge.
I can assure you, this won’t go down well…
Then you’ll arrive at Crosby Coastguard station.
If you’ve had enough, it’s time to turn around and walk back. If you’re up for more, continue on the path to Hightown.
You’d be forgiven for thinking this next section of the path looks boring. Dig a little deeper, and it’s a fascinating section, so don’t rush it!
Getting a wheelchair through the gate is tight but possible. Once you’re through the gate, you are rewarded with a long flat path, and it also has benches along the way for a well-earned rest.
I think this section is fascinating. I especially like the bricks shaped by the constant battering of the sea. I think these bricks were dumped here after the blitz.
It’s also an excellent spot for foraging if you’re into creating a craft, but be careful if you’re venturing close to the edge.
The coastal erosion is evident along the edge, and you can see large chunks of headland falling into the sea.
Whenever you visit, you’ll see mysterious objects washed up on the shore and beautiful patterns made by weathered bricks and sandstone.
If you can, get yourself on the top of the graffiti-clad building, the views of Wales, Lancashire and the Lake District are excellent on a clear day.
This section used to be a bit uneven, but the council have upgraded the path, and it’s now straightforward on the wheels and less bone-rattling.
Keep your eyes open; in the dunes are remnants of bunkers from the war, and somewhere around here was a fort, but I’ve no idea where?
Eventually, you’ll come to a bend in the path; here, you’ll find a white art installation from a local school called The Pebble!
At this point, you’ve walked nearly 4 miles, so it’s time to head back…
Take your time, whether you’re walking parts of the route or all of it. At first glance, it looks like sand and sea, but dig a little deeper on either side of the path, and you’ll find all kinds of mysteries.
Whether you’re a local or a visitor, I highly recommend a stroll on the Sefton coastal path.
If you’ve had the pleasure of walking this route, share your thoughts in the comments section.