Scenic Beaches and Holiday Resorts – The Northern Merseyside and Lancashire Coastline

The stretch of coastline in this article starts at the coastal town of Crosby in Merseyside, located just north of the city of Liverpool, and ends at the Lancashire/Cumbria border close to the village of Silverdale. It generally borders low-level terrain, with a rather neglected rural coastline being interspersed with seaside towns, including the popular British resort town of Blackpool.

Crosby is a small coastal town that is located just to the north of the docklands that sprawl along the Mersey estuary. It functions more as a Liverpool suburb rather than as a seaside resort town, but industrial activity is absent from the coast here. Instead, the residential streets of Crosby border a row of sand dunes that separate the Irish Sea from the town. With extensive sand flats that emerge when the tide is out, the beach here is rather calm and tranquil. A series of 100 sculptures by the internationally acclaimed British artist Antony Gormley – named ‘Another Place’ – stand upright on the sand, staring out to sea [1].

To the north of Crosby, the coastline becomes wilder and more rural. The coastline bordered by Formby Beach is characterised by beautiful sandy beaches and a large and extensive system of sand dunes – all of which is maintained by the National Trust. This area of tranquillity contrasts immensely with the industrial areas of Liverpool and Bootle, which are located only 10 km (7 miles) to the south from here [2]. Formby Beach is also known for its prehistoric footprints in the sand and mud flats, which were formed by hunter-gatherers and their animals 8,000 years ago, and were preserved in the sediment [3]. North of Formby Beach, the coast continues as Ainsdale Beach, with a sand dune system extending as far north as Southport.

With the second longest pier in the United Kingdom, the seaside town of Southport contains amusement arcades, a fun fair known as ‘Southport Pleasureland’, and a long promenade that offers extensive views over an incredibly vast area. A man-made lagoon, known as the ‘Marine Lake’, is used by a sailing club, and golf courses line the coastline just to the north of the town centre [4]. Moving northwards out of Stockport, one crosses the border between Merseyside and Lancashire, and reaches the vast River Ribble estuary. This estuary includes an extensive system of tidal mudflats that emerges twice a day.

To north of the Ribble estuary is the Fylde coast, a 21 km (13 mile) section of coastline that is chiefly occupied by the seaside towns of Saint Anne’s, Blackpool, Cleveleys and Fleetwood, which all border the Irish Sea, as well as a much more remote and rural coastline that borders Morecambe Bay. The largest and most well-known seaside town is Blackpool. A very popular destination for tourists from the whole of the United Kingdom, Blackpool is seen as one of the major quintessential British holiday resort towns. The town has both traditional and modern tourist attractions, including three piers, a large seaside fun fair, a large observation tower named the Blackpool Tower that was opened in 1894 [5], and a Victorian-era tram route that stretches along the entire 2.6 km (1.6 mile) long promenade. Amusement arcades and a large aquarium are located along the sea front, and for 66 nights during the autumn months, an annual light display – known as the Blackpool Illuminations – takes place along the promenade. There are numerous hotels in Blackpool, and many pubs, bars and restaurants that cater for visitors.

The seaside town of Fleetwood sits just to the east of Rossall Point, where the land direction changes abruptly from a north-south to east-west direction. At this point, the coast starts forming the south edge of Morecambe Bay, which is an incredibly vast natural bay, half of which is in Lancashire, the other of which is in Cumbria. Fleetwood contains the usual features associated with a standard British seaside town – which includes an esplanade, independent shops and pubs.

East of Fleetwood, the coastline enters a rather neglected and rural section of coastline, with incredibly extensive sand and mudflats stretching out far into Morecambe Bay during low tide. This section of the coast is known for its high numbers of wildfowl – this is not only due to the remote nature of the coastline, but also due to the fact that the mudflats are not used for human recreational activity. Morecambe Bay is notorious for its quicksand, as well as the fact that the tide comes in at an alarmingly quick rate; therefore, human activity onto the Bay is strongly discouraged [6]. The land adjacent to the coast consists mainly of low-lying farmland and marshland, contrasting greatly with the urbanised area to the south. The River Lune also flows into this side of Morecambe Bay.

Now travelling up the western side of Morecambe Bay, one passes the port town of Heysham, with its large ferry port and power station, and reaches the seaside town of Morecambe. Similar to Fleetwood, Morecambe consists of the typical tourist-related attractions associated with a British seaside town. However, unlike most resort towns, incredible views can be seen across Morecambe Bay, allowing people to see the mountains of the Lake District to the north. Furthermore, the newly-refurbished Art Deco-style Midland Hotel, which is located on the promenade, makes up one of many places where tourists can stay at Morecambe [7].

The last stretch of the Lancashire coastline – Morecambe to Silverdale – makes up the rest of the eastern side of Morecambe Bay. Like the coastline south of Morecambe, this is also made up of extensive sand and mud flats, with marshland bordering the coast. This includes Leighton Moss nature reserve, which contains a diverse range of habitats, including reeds, woodland and limestone grassland. Therefore, a wide variety of birds, amphibians and fish can be found here [8].

It is just to the north of Leighton Moss that the only cliff section along the Lancashire coastline can be found – at Jenny Brown’s Point, just to the south of the village of Silverdale. Here, a limestone outcrop, which includes a cave system and sections of limestone pavement, meet the edge of Morecambe Bay. Just to the north of Silverdale, the coastline reaches the Lancashire/Cumbria border.



[1] https://www.visitsouthport.com/things-to-do/crosby-beach-p244561

[2] https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/formby

[3] https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/formby/features/prehistoric-footprints-at-formby

[4] https://www.visitsouthport.com/things-to-do/southport-beach-p244601

[5] https://www.theblackpooltower.com/

[6] https://www.thebeachguide.co.uk/north-west-england/lancashire/pilling-sands.htm

[7] https://englishlakes.co.uk/the-midland/

[8] https://www.rspb.org.uk/reserves-and-events/reserves-a-z/leighton-moss/


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