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|The Sparrowhawk and Ainsdale Nature Reserve|
|Author: Pub Walker, Published: 27 Nov 2013||Walk rating : Rating:|
|A 5.5 mile circular pub walk from the Sparrowhawk in Formby, Merseyside. The Sparrowhawk is a lovely old country house, beautifully converted to a classic pub with open fires to enjoy in the winter and a large terrace for the summer months. The walking route heads out via the Coastal Road to explore two local nature reserves. There’s a real mix of landscapes throughout the walk including pine forest, acidic dune heath, a golf course, an airfield, residential streets and long bridleways. If you’re lucky you might even get a glimpse of one of the rare red squirrels that populate the reserves. |
The walk is relatively flat throughout. Most of the paths are wide, well-made tarmac pavements or stone tracks, but one length of bridleway is narrow and can be quite muddy in winter and after periods of rain. There are no stiles on route, just a few gates/kissing gates. You will need to cross the rail line at an un-signalled level crossing so take care to look and listen for trains before you cross. You will also need to take care of traffic at two points: the first is to cross a dual carriageway; the other is the final mile of the walk that follows the edge of a quiet lane. The route crosses a golf course so keep alert and beware of any stray golf balls. Dogs are welcome in the nature reserves, as long as they are kept under control. Approximate time 2 to 2.5 hours.
Formby is located on the west coast, between Liverpool and Southport. The walk starts and finishes from the Sparrowhawk pub on Southport Old Road, which has its own car park. Approximate post code L37 0AB.
|Start to Ainsdale Nature Reserve|
Start point: 53.5849 lat, -3.0408 long
From the pub car park, head back out to the road and turn right along the road edge, taking care of any traffic. Just before the first set of traffic lights, keep straight ahead on the paved path and continue as this becomes the pavement alongside the main road. At the second set of traffic lights, use the pedestrian crossing to cross left over the road. At the far side of the crossing, keep ahead on the wide tarmac path running alongside Coastal Road. Follow this for some distance.
|Ainsdale Nature Reserve to Level Crossing|
Start point: 53.5944 lat, -3.0526 long
Follow the path as it swings left and continue until you reach a staggered T-junction. Turn right here and follow the path through the staggered barrier and under the bridge. Keep ahead on the obvious path with the rail line over to the left. You will reach a T-junction with a boardwalk opposite. Turn left and then keep left at the fork to pass by the vehicle gate and join the Woodland Path and Dobson’s Ride. Follow this path (with the railway to the left) through the nature reserve for some distance.
|Level Crossing to Brewery Lane|
Start point: 53.5745 lat, -3.0706 long
Cross the level crossing with extreme care, taking proper care to look and listen for trains before you cross. At the far side do NOT turn right along the cycle path, instead take the footpath at about 2 o’clock which you access via the two kissing gates, ahead and then right. You are now within Freshfield Dune Heath, another nature reserve. Follow the path ahead around the edge of the heath, with a fence on the right.
|Brewery Lane to A565|
Start point: 53.5719 lat, -3.0644 long
Keep left along Brewery Lane. When you reach Bowler’s Riding School on the left, fork right to join the tarmac path which continues in the same direction. At the T-junction turn right and, after just a few paces, turn left onto a narrow footpath between hedges (signed with a red arrow to Deansgate Lane).
|A565 to End|
Start point: 53.572 lat, -3.0503 long
Cross over the dual carriageway with extreme care, and take the tarmac path directly opposite. This path leads you past a large commercial greenhouse on the left. At the end of this, you’ll reach a T-junction with Southport Old Road. Turn left along the road edge, taking care of any traffic.
Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2013 by the author pubwalker and may not be reproduced without permission.
The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.
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