Formby Point in February

037 View to the SeaFor the past few weeks I’ve been attempting to get on with my writing and for the most part, have succeeded in doing that. I still have some distance to go before I finish Book 3, but it’s coming along reasonably well. Unfortunately, last week, we needed to visit my 87-year-old aunt in Carnforth (north Lancashire) who has been unwell recently, so my writing was again ‘on hold’.

On one of the days we were there, we managed a run out to my hometown of Southport – a Victorian seaside town on the north-west coast of England.

Map of Merseyside, UK. Source Ordnance Survey Open Data. Author Nilfanion. Creative Commons.
Map of Merseyside, UK. Source Ordnance Survey Open Data. Author Nilfanion. Creative Commons.

Southport has had its ups and downs over the years, particularly since losing its place in Lancashire and becoming part of Mersyside in the early 1970s. I intend to write a post about the town at some stage, as I’ve always loved it and often long to be back there. Many golfers from around the world will know this coastal region for its famous links golf courses, including Royal Birkdale, Hillside and Ainsdale.

On this occasion we first drove a little further down the coast to Formby Point, and I thought I’d share some photos of the sand dunes and pine woods there. This whole area of coastline is managed as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC). Parts of the stretch, at Ainsdale, a litttle closer to Southport than Formby, have been a Nature Reserve for many years now – even when I lived there in the 1950s and 60s. The Reserve is the habitat of the Great Crested Newt, Britain’s most protected species of amphibian. I believe its numbers are now on the increase at the Reserve.

My sister and I often used to cycle down to the pine woods with a picnic when we were teenagers, and it hasn’t changed a lot since then – except that Formby Point is now managed by the National Trust.

The sand dunes are an important habitat for both the natterjack toad, now an endangered species, and the rare sand lizard. The pine woods are one of the few remaining areas in Britain where our indigenous (and also endangered) red squirrels are found. The woods flank the landward side of the dunes, so we walked through those first. The oak leaves and acorn symbol is that of the National Trust:

098 National Trust Squirrel Walk

100 Squirrel Walk

The ‘cages’ up in the trees are feeders for the squirrels. We caught a couple of  them inside, but the photos we took didn’t turn out well. We also saw a few scuttling across the ground – but they were too distant and fast moving to show up on a photo. I don’t have a good zoom on my tablet, and our small camera isn’t too wonderful either. This picture gives a vague idea -you can see a red squirrel in there, if you look closely enough:

020 Red Squirrel 2

These are a few photos of our walk through the dunes before we reached the beach. The marram grass is essential to the conservation of the dunes – without it, the westerly winds would very quickly erode them.

And eventually . . . the beach and the Irish Sea. The beach was almost deserted due to the time of year and the fact that it was mid-week:

On another day we went to Blackpool – an even more desolate seaside town at this time of year.  I’ll share a few photos of the town, and the adjoining Lytham St Annes another time.