Formby asparagus walk
National Trust Formby, Victoria Road, Freshfield, Formby, Liverpool, L37 1LJRoute details and mapDownload as a print friendly PDF
Discover how this one crop helped to shape the Formby you see today.
- Bus stop
Start: The main notice board opposite the toilets at National Trust Formby, grid ref: SD280082
Take the path to the right hand side of the notice board and, after a very short distance, turn right at the first path junction. Continue on and where the path turns left on to a boardwalk, leave this path and take the path straight ahead.
Continue along this path, pass the family picnic site (which is on your left hand side) and take the next path on your left (approximately 80 yards (75m) further) through a gate into a small field. Cross the field and leave through another gate. Turn left onto a wide path. Follow this path as it makes a sharp turn right and continue on.
Asparagus cultivation has left its mark on the landscape of Formby which can still be seen today. The areas of flat land and fields that you see throughout this site are not natural but are areas where the land has been levelled in the past for the growing of asparagus. Since the end of asparagus farming in the 1990s these fields have been left to grass over however the remnants of the cultivation fields can still be seen today as ridges and furrows.
At a T-junction turn left and follow a grass/sand path through a small area of woodland into an open field, where more remnants of asparagus cultivation can be seen. Continue straight on across the field and at the far side take the path which leads straight ahead (ignoring the paths to the left and right) up a slope into pine woodland. After a short distance pass by a bench seat, with a carving of a red squirrel, on your right.
At the brow of the hill, the path forks. Take the left fork and continue down, passing an enclosed pine plantation on your right followed by a small field where asparagus may be seen growing in the months of May and June. At the end of this track, pass through a field gate onto a road. Turn right along Blundell Avenue. After a short distance cross the road taking a clear path on the left, past wooden bollards, onto an open field.
Continue on following the right edge of the field. At the end of the open field, pass through a kissing gate adjacent to a field gate into an enclosed field. Heather grows here with other plants typical of dune heath.
The field adjacent to Larkhill fields is part of Larkhill Farm which is one of the few places where asparagus is still grown in Formby. The sandy soil and climate of this area are ideal for growing asparagus as it needs well-drained soils and open sunny fields. It is a high-maintenance crop that needs regular weeding and very careful harvesting, tasks which are still carried out by hand today as they would have been a century ago.
Once through the gate take the left of 2 wide paths heading straight ahead (ignore the smaller path which hugs the fence-line on your left). Follow this path as it curves to the left passing through a small stand of birches and meets a fence corner by some cottages. At the fence corner follow the clear path round to the right and head towards a kissing gate next to a field gate. Pass through the gate on to farm track.
In the months of May and early June, you may like to make a short detour along the track to the right to buy a bunch of Formby asparagus from the Brooks family at Larkhill Farm. The Brooks family have grown asparagus in Formby for a number of generations and work hard to keep the tradition of Formby asparagus alive. Some of the asparagus for sale from Larkhill Farm is grown on our land. To return to the walk retrace your steps to the gate at the end of point 6 and continue from point 7.
Cross the track and pass through a kissing gate into a small field. Take the path straight ahead across the length of the field to a kissing gate in the far left corner. Pass through the gate and emerge onto Wicks Lane. Cross in front of the large gates and turn right, passing through some metal barriers onto a broad bridle-path.
Follow this enclosed path, passing a primary school and a housing estate on your left, until you pass 2 wooden bollards set into the path. After the bollards the path forks, take the permissive bridle path on the right with the blue-topped waymarkers. Follow this path as it curves left and comes out of the woodland onto an open field with a fine view of sand dunes straight ahead in the distance.
At this point leave the bridlepath (which turns right into the pine woods) and take the middle path of 3 broad grass paths heading across the field towards the sand dunes. After passing a small fenced plantation of pines on your right you will reach a wide stone path, this is the Sefton Coastal Path. Turn right along this stone path, immediately passing a fenced field on your left.
During the summer months there are a number of fields here that are home to a small flock of Hebridean and Herdwick sheep. The sheep graze these areas for conservation purposes by closely grazing the faster growing grasses to allow a variety of wildflowers to flourish.
Continue on the stone path as it enters broadleaf woodland. After a short distance you will come to a crossroads, go straight across and follow the path until it reaches a T-junction and turn left along a wide path. Continue along this path as it passes a fenced agricultural field on the right and curves right into pine woodland.
The field on the right is a recently planted asparagus field which is part of the Trust's Sandfield Farm. This field is tenanted to the Brooks family, who own Larkhill Farm, with the aim of continuing the asparagus-growing tradition on this land. It also gives a first-hand view of how the asparagus cultivation areas of Formby would have looked in years gone by and how asparagus cultivation changed this landscape.
Follow this wide path as it makes a sharp left hand bend and continue along past open pine woodland on your left and an enclosed pine plantation on your right. At the end of the plantation the landscape on your right opens out to dune grassland. Continue along this path, ignoring all paths going off to your left and right, crossing a very sandy section where the sand dunes meet the path on your left.
Immediately after the sandy section the path forks. Take the right fork, passing a bench. After a short distance follow this path as it curves left, passing wooden bollards, into broadleaf woodland. Follow this clear compacted woodland path. After approximately ¼ mile (0.4km) the path forks, take the right/lower level fork to pass the picnic site that you passed at point 2. Continue straight on as the path narrows.
At a path junction on a fenced trail, instead of retracing your steps from the start of the walk, turn right and take the boardwalk path. Follow this boardwalk as it bends round to the left and up a slope. At the end of the boardwalk continue to the top of slope where you will find a crossroad. Take the fenced path on your left and follow this as it bends round sharply to the left. Shortly after the bend take the path going off to the right to return to the walk start.
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. Did you see the asparagus sculpture on your trip? Why not Facebook a picture?
End: The main notice board opposite the toilets at National Trust Formby, grid ref: SD280082
In partnership with
- Trail: Walking
- Grade: Easy
- Distance: 2.75 miles (4.4 km)
- Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
- OS Map: Explorer 285 Southport and Chorley (Not all paths are marked on OS map)
The route consists of a mixture of stone, compacted earth, grass and sandy paths with some uneven terrain. There is also a short section of boardwalk.
- 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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