Skip to content

Horse riding at Formby

Close up of a horse
Horse-riding at Formby | © National Trust Images/John Malley

Formby is a great place to take your horse for a gentle ride along the beach and through the woodlands. Here's some useful information and top tips to help you make the most of your trip and have a safe and enjoyable ride.

Access and parking

Head to Lifeboat Road (L37 2EB) Bay 3 to park your horse box.

Please note the event field / overflow car park where horse boxes can usually also park, particularly on busier days, is currently closed. This is due to long periods of dry weather and drought conditions which have caused a build up of loose sand and sand bowl dips on the track leading to the field.

Access to Lifeboat Road car park is via a narrow road with passing places. There is no horsebox parking available at Victoria Road car park.

Animal welfare

Please be aware that there is no water supply or grazing area at Lifeboat Road so please bring all water and feed that your horse will need with you.

Keeping it tidy

To keep the site clean and tidy for others, please remove all horse-related debris (including faeces) from the field car park and surrounding area. Please take this debris away with you and dispose of it responsibly.

Where can I ride?

The only access to and from the beach for horses is via the Lifeboat Road path. This path across the sand dunes is marked by waymarkers and can be accessed from Lifeboat Road car park. Once on the beach, you can ride south as far as Altcar Rifle Range (red flags on the dunes mark the boundary of this live firing range) and north as far as Ainsdale.

For an inland ride, there is a short section of public bridle path that runs through the woodlands from Lifeboat Road to Wicks Lane in Formby. 

Please download a map of the bridle path at Formby here before you visit. 

To help protect all the wonderful wildlife at Formby and prevent damage to paths horses are not allowed on any paths or areas other than those stated above and marked on the map. Thank you for your support.

Check tide times

Formby is on Liverpool Bay, which has one of the highest tidal ranges in the UK. This means that often at high tide the entire beach goes underwater. It is therefore very important for your safety that you check the tide times carefully for the day that you plan to ride. Avoid riding on the beach for approximately two hours either side of the high tide time. 

The beach and sand dunes at Formby, Liverpool
The beach and sand dunes at Formby, Liverpool | © National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

Protecting wildlife 

The beach along the Sefton Coast is an internationally important area for feeding and roosting birds. A lot of these birds stop here on their migration to either their breeding or overwintering grounds. It is very important that they remain as undisturbed as possible so that they can build up a store of energy to complete their long and often difficult journey.

Please note that the Sefton Council Public Space Protection Order (PSPO - click here to view), introduced in July 2022 details specific restrictions for horse riders to help protect the special Sefton Coast landscape and the wildlife that calls it home, whilst keeping everyone who loves to visit safe;

  1. Horses are not allowed into the designated bathing areas between 1st May and 30th September, nor to enter vegetated areas on or adjacent to the beach or to ride through flocks of roosting/feeding birds or gallop anywhere on the beach.
  2. Horses must not he ridden dangerously or within 2 hours either side of high tide.
  3. Horses are not allowed to be ridden on the coast other than on designated bridleways and those beaches with access via an authorised route.

Protecting the past

Formby is famous for having 5000-year-old footprints of both humans and animals preserved in silt beds on the beach. These silt beds can be easily damaged by horses being ridden over them. The silt beds show as areas of dark brown muddy sediment on the beach so avoid these areas when riding.

Top tips for a safe and enjoyable ride

Hundreds of thousands of people visit Formby each year and we want all visitors to have a safe and enjoyable visit. To ensure your safety and the safety of others, please be aware of the following:

  • Never ride your horse at full gallop. You may find that there are sections of dry soft sand which could lead a galloping horse to stumble. 
  • The beach has many hidden dangers including deep channels, patches of soft sand and rubble. These dangers may move across or along the beach over time. Please take care when riding and pick your route carefully. 
  • Do not let your horse to go too far out on the beach as the tide may come in behind you and cut you off.
  • There are likely to be loose dogs on the beach and across the site. Although we ask that dogs are kept under close control, we are aware that not all dog owners  follow this guidance so please be aware of this when riding.
  • Please keep younger and less experienced riders and horses under close watch.
  • Please be aware that NT Formby staff vehicles use the bridle path for access and are also driven along the beach.
The beach and sea at Formby, Merseyside

Discover more at Formby

Find out how to get to Formby, where to park, the things to see and do and more.

You might also be interested in

Dogs play on the beach at Formby, Merseyside

Visiting Formby with your dog 

Dogs are welcome at Formby, which is a one pawprint rated place. Find out all you need to know about exercising your pups on the sandy beaches and acres of woodland.

Ionic Star shipwreck at Formby

Things to see and do at Formby 

Formby’s coastline is home to many rare species, two shipwrecks and prehistoric footprints. Can you spot a red squirrel in the trees or footprints on the shoreline?

Aparagus beds in the sand dunes at Formby, Merseyside

Discover the history of Formby 

Formby is steeped in history if you know where to look. Discover the history of Formby’s asparagus fields, prehistoric footprints and shipwrecks.

Visitors explore the sand dunes at Formby, Merseyside

Conservation work at Formby 

Formby is one of the fastest changing stretches of coastline under the National Trust’s care. Discover how the team are working with nature to protect rare habitats and wildlife.


Projects at Formby 

Find out what's happening at Formby's nature haven and get involved. Together we can shape future plans to protect this precious landscape and the rare species that call it home.