Formby Red Squirrel walk

National Trust Formby, Victoria Road, Freshfield, Formby, Liverpool, L37 1LJ

Route details and mapDownload as a print friendly PDF
Pine woodland at Formby. © National Trust/Andrew Brockbank

Pine woodland at Formby.

Christmas tree fences used in dune restoration at Formby. © National Trust/Louise Mitchell

Christmas tree fences used in dune restoration at Formby.

Black Poplars in Nicotine Wood, Formby. © National Trust/Kate Martin

Black Poplars in Nicotine Wood, Formby.

Asparagus bunches. © National Trust/Andrew Brockbank

Asparagus bunches.

Red Squirrel burying nuts. © Richard Taylor

Red Squirrel burying nuts.

Route overview

Explore beautiful woodlands, home to the rare native red squirrel.

Route details

See this step-by-step route marked on a map

Formby Red Squirrel Walk Map
  • Directions
  • Route
  • Bus stop
  • Parking
  • Toilet
  • Viewpoint

Start: The main notice board opposite the toilets at National Trust Formby, grid ref: SD280082

  1. Cross the road and take the path (marked Cornerstone path) to the left of the toilets, heading down a ramp into the woodland. Continue to follow this clear, broad path with its white and purple marker posts through the woodland until you meet another path at a T-junction with a set of large wooden chimes on your left hand side.

    Show/HidePine woodland

    The pine woodlands were planted from the late 1800s by the Weld Blundell family, whose estate covered this area. Before the trees were planted this area would have been fixed sand dunes covered in grassland and if you look closely you can still make out the shape of the dunes underneath the trees. Over the years these trees have been a valuable windbreak for the fields used for asparagus cultivation and the neighbouring residential area. Of course now they are most renowned as the home of the rare native red squirrel.

    Pine woodland at Formby. © National Trust/Andrew Brockbank
  2. Turn left at the T-junction and follow Cornerstone path for a short distance before the path forks. Here leave Cornerstone path and take the left hand fork, following the path as it bends into a picnic area. Continue through the picnic area and up a ramp back to the road.

  3. Cross the road into another picnic area and take the right of 2 paths heading down a ramp into the woodland. Continue through the woods until the path reaches a fork marked by a waymarker (yellow arrow on a grey background).

  4. Take the path on the left which will lead you out of the woodland, past some wooden bollards, into an area of open dune grassland. Follow the path as it turns right, passing a bench, to a T-junction. At this junction turn left and follow the path with the sand dunes on your right and the fields on your left.

    Show/HideSand dune restoration

    When looking at the sand dunes you may notice something that at first appears to be out of place: lines and lines of Christmas trees. Some areas of the dunes have become vulnerable due to the loss of Marram grass, the natural dune stabiliser, caused mainly by trampling. This leaves the dunes bare which means that the wind can blow the sand off them leading to flattening of the dunes and the blown sand covering the road, paths and car park. The trees are part of a restoration project to help to reduce the sand movement and stabilise the dunes.

    Christmas tree fences used in dune restoration at Formby. © National Trust/Louise Mitchell
  5. Continue to follow this well-defined path as it enters an area with open woodland on your right and an enclosed pine plantation on your left.

    Show/HideNicotine Wood

    The woodland known as Nicotine Wood takes its name from the area seaward of the trees where, during the 1950s and 1960s, thousands of tonnes of tobacco leaf waste were dumped by the British Nicotine Company. The waste was dumped on old asparagus fields that were no longer in production. This wood has an interesting natural, as well as industrial, history. The gnarled broadleaf trees that can be seen here are native black poplar and it is thought that this is one of the most northerly places where this species can be found in the UK

    Black Poplars in Nicotine Wood, Formby. © National Trust/Kate Martin
  6. At the end of the enclosed pine plantation the path forks, take the right fork to continue through the pine woodlands with an agricultural field on your left. Follow the path as it leaves the woodland and curves to the left. At a junction where the Sefton Coastal Path breaks off to the right, keep straight ahead and after a short distance you will reach a road.

    Show/HideFormby asparagus

    Formby is famous for its asparagus and the cultivation of this crop has left its mark on the landscape. Most of the areas of flat land and fields that you see throughout this walk are not natural but are areas where the land has been levelled in the past for asparagus cultivation. To help to continue the asparagus growing tradition of Formby, the National Trust has leased out a field at Sandfield Farm to the Brooks family who continue to grow asparagus on this site.

    Asparagus bunches. © National Trust/Andrew Brockbank
  7. At the road turn left and continue for approximately ΒΌ mile until you can see a litter bin just into the woodland on the left hand side. Turn left in to the woodland on the path just before the bin and follow this path along and down into a dip. In the dip the path forks, take the left fork up a short steep slope before following the path as it descends into an open grassy area.

  8. Cross straight across the open area and ascend a short steep slope on a well defined path back into the woodland. Continue along this path until you reach a crossroads with a bench on your right. Turn left to go down a slope on a wide path that after a short distance becomes a boardwalk.

    Show/HideRed squirrels

    National Trust Formby is part of the Sefton stronghold for the native red squirrel, one of 17 strongholds in the north of England. Autumn and spring are when the squirrels are most active but they can be seen out and about in these woodlands all year round. Have a look out for the feeders in the trees as this is often a good place to catch a glimpse of these shy creatures.

    Red Squirrel burying nuts. © Richard Taylor
  9. Follow this boardwalk as it curves round to the right. At the end of the boardwalk there is a path T-junction. Turn right to follow a broad fenced path up a slope. After a short distance there is a fenced path off to the left, take this path to return to the walk start.

End: The main notice board opposite the toilets at National Trust Formby, grid ref: SD280082

Great British Walk

Enjoy a walk © John Millar
  • Trail: Walking
  • Grade: Easy
  • Distance: 1.8 miles (2.9km)
  • Time: 1 hour
  • OS Map: Explorer 285 Southport and Chorley (Not all paths are marked on OS map)
  • Terrain:

    Easily marked paths with a few short steep slopes. Paths are a mixture of stone and compacted earth with small sections of exposed sand and boardwalk. There is also a section of road walking on a quiet private road. Dogs are welcome throughout the property but we ask that they are kept under close control at all times and that any dog waste is picked up and removed. We ask that dogs are kept on a

  • How to get here:

    By foot: Sefton Coastal Path passes through National Trust Formby

    By cycle: National Trust Formby 3 miles (4.8km) from NCN62

    By train: Freshfield Station, on Merseyrail Northern Line, 1 mile (1.6 km) walk to National Trust Formby

    By car: 2 miles (3.2km) off A565. Follow brown tourist signs from roundabout at the north end of Formby bypass (by BP garage). Park at the National Trust car park at Victoria Road, Formby - car park charges apply for non National Trust members. Sat Nav: use postcode L37 1LJ
     

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