The Sefton coast is 12 miles of spectacular, unspoilt and rugged coastline in the north west of England that holds numerous stretches of cultural, scientific and conservation features, and with a number of hiking and cycle routes and a council run cycle hire service available the best way to explore this hidden gem of a coastline is by bike.
Sefton Coast stretches for 12 miles between Southport and Crosby Beach in Liverpool and is one of the most densely packed sites of special scientific interest in the north west. The coastline is not only home to Another Place, Antony Gormley’s famous art installation on Crosby beach, but also a national trust site with one of the largest unspoilt and undeveloped stretch of sand dunes in the UK, home to numerous wildlife reserves, huge sandy beaches, coastal marshes pine woodlands and heathland. The coast offers wild and rare species of flora and fauna and is considered a special area of conservation with with unspoilt vistas over the Irish Sea to Blackpool, North Wales and Snowdonia!
To put it another way, Sefton coast is a spectacular stretch of unique coastline that should not be missed by any visitor to the north west of England, especially those visiting Liverpool or Southport.
Sefton Coast is the north west’s best kept tourism secret, largely unknown to locals as much as visitors, and Sefton and West Lancashire council have set up a range of walking trails and cycle paths to ensure that travellers can see the coastline in a sustainable way and also live an active healthier lifestyle.
Exploring the great outdoors is a great way for travellers to improve their mental and physical health, and apart from being a destination worth visiting for its cultural, scientific and conservation status, not to mention the epic views and National Parks, the Sefton coast is also fast becoming a health and wellness destination for travellers in its own right.
The numerous walking trails mean that the coastline is accessible to anyone who wants to get out into the fresh air, and thanks to their cycle hire scheme anyone can hire a bike and explore this unspoilt stretch of hidden coastline.
The Cycle Hire Scheme.
Set up initially in 2009 with local government funding, Sefton council has run the cycle hire scheme since and relies on funding from tourism income to maintain it. Your tourism money isn’t just going on giving you an amazing experience exploring the coastline, it is having an important positive impact keeping this scheme alive. The more people use it, the more the scheme can offer.
Based at Southport Eco Centre, just a short walk down from Southport Pleasureland, the shop has bikes available for the whole family, including children’s bikes, tag a longs, trailers and child seats.
Prices start at £6 for four hours bike hire or £10 for the full day, but there are discounts available for pre bookings and families. For keen cyclers they also offer free information and maps for all the available routes.
Cycle Routes From Southport.
There are a number of themed routes starting from the Southport Eco Centre and other places nearby, taking in diverse parts of the coastline and major landmarks, all taking between half an hour and two hours and catering for all levels of ability and interest.
The Marram Route.
The Marram route is one of the easiest routes to choose from and is a genuinely pleasant ride around the Queens Jubilee Nature Reserve and down toward the sandhills of Ainsdale and Birkdale Local Nature Reserve. It only takes half an hour at a slow, easy pace and is approximately 3 miles.
The Natterjack route.
The Natterjack route is a longer 9 mile route for intermediate bikers that should take around 2 hours on a slow ride, and will take you past the Birkdale Nature Reserve via Ainsdale and Southport town centre.
The Swan Route.
The Swan route is a nice, hours ride past the Victorian gardens and quaint boulevards of Southport’s famous Lord Street and takes you past several lakes and up to the observatory at Hesketh Park. At 5 miles long it is still an easy, mostly flat ride on easy roads.
The Shrimp Route.
The Shrimp route is all about Southport centre and takes in all the main attractions and landmarks of Southport itself including a ride under the famous Pier! This circular route should take half an hour to forty five minutes and is slightly over 4 miles and takes you past the home of the Southport Shrimpers too, where it gets its name!
The Kestrel Route.
The Kestrel route is a moderate, 9 mile route that should take an hour and a half to two hours and will take you through the newly developed community woodland and past the RSPB bird reserve which is home to the protected and borderline endangered Kestrel.
The Mallard route.
The Mallard route is similar in length and difficulty to the Kestrel route and still takes you past the RSPB reserve and then onto Churchtown, home to the Botanical gardens.
Cycle Routes Further Afield.
As well as basing yourself in Southport, the Sefton coastline can also be explored from different start and end points, including from Formby, easily reachable by Formby and Freshfields train stations where you can take your bike on free of charge.
The Squirrel Route.
The Squirrel route links Southport to Formby and links through a number of Nature reserves and trails including the Queens Jubilee Nature Reserve, Birkdale Nature reserve and the Sands Lake Nature trail and offers spectacular views over the Irish sea. The route ends at the famous Red Squirrel reserve and National Trust Site. The route is one of the harder cycle trails and is mostly off road for around 8 miles, but should take around an hour, maybe a little more if you keep stopping to admire the views!
The Asparagus Route.
The Asparagus route is an easy 5 mile, hour long route that passes through Formby village along the coast line.
The Butterfly Route
The Butterfly route starts and ends at Freshfields railway station and is an easy 7 mile route along the north of Formby past several nature reserves.
The Owl Route.
The Owl route in a ten mile, moderate route that starts at Maghull train station and passes through Maghull and Aintree via the famous Leeds and Liverpool Canal.
The Moorhen Route.
The Moorhen route is a 5 mile easy circular route starts at the picturesque Burscough Wharf and takes in sections of the Leeds and Liverpool canal and quiet country lanes.
The Lapwing Route.
The Lapwing route is an easy 9 mile ride through quiet agricultural roads and passes farmland, several nature reserves and wildlife rich areas. It should take roughly two hours to complete and starts at Burscough Wharf.
The Curlew Route.
The Curlew route starts and ends at the Crosby Lakeside Adventure Centre. This hour long, 5 mile route is Crosby’s first themed leisure route and enjoys the views of the Crosby section of the Sefton coast. Apart from amazing views of the Wirral and North Wales coastline this route also takes in Antony Gormley’s Another Place Statues.
Cycling the Sefton Coastline.
Hiring a bike and cycling the Sefton coast from Southport, or any other of the starting points along the coastline is an amazing way to explore this spectacular and largely hidden part of the UK and a great way to look after your mental and physical wellbeing too. So if you are exploring the north west UK make sure you head down to the Southport Eco Centre and rent one of their bikes for a day, or even make a weekend of it! You won’t regret it.
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Why is this not more well known? I live not far from here and had no idea we could do all this!
Neither did I until recently so don’t feel bad! Hopefully a lot more people will know about it now.
What a great scheme! Will definitely take advantage before the weather turns.
It is such an amazing scheme! I’m glad I found it while we still had some good weather.
What a brilliant day out! Are they open all year?
Yes they are, there are some down times at the moment for obvious reasons so check on the website to be sure, but they hope to be open 7 days a week all year round again soon.
Wish I’d have known about this back in April or May! I live near Southport too and had no idea!
You aren’t the only one Hannah, still well worth checking out though!
Brilliant Scheme, I live very near to Southport and have used it a few times, I’ve even got my family involved! I’m shocked more people don’t know about it!
That’s great to hear Bill, hopefully they will after reading this!