Beach Car Parks 
  • The beach car park at Southport remains closed until further notice.
  • The Beach car park at Ainsdale will be closing for the winter after 30th September 2020. It is scheduled to reopen at the beginning of April 2021.
  • Check tide times, here.  Please take your rubbish home and where possible, recycle it. BBQs are not permitted at the beach or in the dunes. Stay safe and have fun.
  • You can also view our Beach Parking Terms of Use


2021 COVID Update

Find the latest info here following the announcement of national lockdown restrictions here

During the summer (1st April – 30th September), beach car parking is available at Ainsdale (PR8 2QB) and Southport (PR9 1RX). However, beach car parking can be affected by the tide, the weather or for other reasons, and parking charges apply.

The all-day charge for parking on Ainsdale beach is £10 and a new cashless payment system is being introduced for 2021. For regular visitors who are Sefton residents, and those who drive an electric or hybrid car, they can purchase a reduced rate £30 season ticket (non-refundable). Discounted evening rates (50% off the all-day charge) after 4pm will be subject to further car parking management arrangements for the 2021 season. 

An online form to purchase season tickets will be made available in the coming weeks ahead of beach car park reopening. 

This funding provides essential support to contribute to the costs to provide our services and preserve the natural beauty of our coastline  

Crosby beach is backed by a promenade, from where you can safely view the Another Place ‘Iron Men’. There are several pay and display car parks adjacent or close to the promenade.

Car parking for the beach at Formby is managed by the National Trust.

Only Formby, Ainsdale and Southport are designated bathing beaches. During the summer water samples are taken and there are RNLI Beach Lifeguards on duty. Crosby Beach is not a designated bathing water.

All the beaches in Sefton have good train connections. Merseyrail operates regular services along the Northern line between Liverpool and Southport.

There are two dog exclusion zones in place from 1st May to 30th September: 

  • Southport beach is free of dogs starting from the Pier south towards Pleasureland (for 555m) and to the tide line.
  • Ainsdale Beach is free of dogs 200m either side of the main beach entrance and to the tide line.

Both the dog exclusion zones are well signed during the summer season.

Please some basic rules: 

  • Keep your dog under close control at all times. If you cannot control your dog, keep it on a lead.
  • Never let your dog roam around the coast unattended. A dog out of sight might be out of control. 
  • You must clean up after your dog. Failure to clean up dog waste is an offence under the cleaner Neighbourhoods Act 2005. You could incur a £75 fixed penalty or be fined up to £1000 if prosecuted. 

Picnics are allowed along Sefton's beaches, provided visitors make sure they take away all their rubbish when they leave the beach.

Barbecues are strictly not allowed. This is due to the potential fire risk, injuries caused by discarded barbecuing kits and potential damage to habitats.

We actively encourage visitors to our beautiful coastline to enjoy it safely and to treat the surrounding natural habitats and fellow visitors with respect.

Southport Beach Car Park currently remains closed until further notice. 

Yes you can park on the beach car parks during the summer. However, they can be reduced or closed depending on tidal conditions or at other times for reasons such as severe weather or organised events.

The all-day charge for parking on Ainsdale beach is £10. A new cashless payment system is to be introduced for the 2021 season.
For regular visitors, Sefton Council offers a money-saving £30 annual season ticket (non-refundable) for parking on Ainsdale Beach, also available for those who drive a hybrid or electric car. This funding provides essential support to contribute to the costs to provide our services and preserve the natural beauty of our coastline

The quickest and easiest way to buy your beach parking contract ticket is to buy online. A form will be made available here ahead of the beach car park reopening in April 2021. 

You can call 0345 140 0845 or email to enquire or book.

Horse riders must possess current and valid personal and third party liability insurance. Please observe these basic rules:

  • Keep younger and less experienced riders and horses under close supervision
  • Never ride your horse at full gallop
  • Horses are excluded from all bathing areas
  • Do not allow your horse to go too far out into the sea
  • Avoid riding on the beaches for 2 hours either side of high tide and never ride through flocks of wading birds.
  • Horses are not permitted in the dunes
  • Local Nature Reserve Byelaws and Sandhill Bylaws apply
  • To avoid congestion, do not  park your box or trailer at the main entrance to Ainsdale Beach
  • Please clear up all your horse related debris and remove it from the beach, do not leave behind any dung or straw 
  • Be considerate to all other beach users
  • To avoid disturbing flocks of wading birds

Ainsdale and Southport have RNLI Lifeguard cover between Easter and September.  

Lifeguards work at Formby (Lifeboat Road) between May and September. 


Our top tips are:

  • Read the beach information notice boards for news and safety information
  • Take your litter home
  • Where lifeguards operate you are required to follow their instructions and advice
  • Respect the beaches, coastline and other people using the area
  • Do not allow your dog or horse to foul the beaches
  • Care should be taken at all times when swimming in the sea
  • Check the tide times and the weather forecast before your visit and be aware of the beach access points

During the summer the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) lifeguard service is in operation at Formby, Ainsdale and Southport and they promote a 'swim between the flags' service, which means they will patrol a designated area of the beach.

At Crosby, RNLI Lifeguards are present all year, but please note Crosby beach is not a bathing beach and does not have a patrolled bathing area. 

On occasions it may be necessary to restrict activities and even close a beach and access to the water. Where this occurs we follow the procedures identified on the RNLI water safety advice website.

Tide times vary everyday throughout the year. Please check the tides website before you make your journey especially if you want to see the Antony Gormley statues. 


Ainsdale has twice won the international Blue Flag and in 2010 Southport achieved excellent water quality under the current European standards. Formby has always had consistently good bathing water quality.

However, in 2015 the new standards will classify a bathing beach based on the previous four years testing and will have the additional requirement to provide improved information for the beach user. 

Warnings in the form of signage of short-term pollution events will be posted at the beach and are more likely to appear following heavy rain. If visiting a beach to swim or take part in another activity in the water and it has rained recently we advise that you check the notice boards at the beach.

More information on the revised bathing water standards is available on the Environment Agency and Defra websites.

In the North West, a Turning Tides partnership has been established to strive to further improve our bathing waters and between 1994 and 2015 £1 billion will have been spent in the North West.

Professional filming outlets seeking permission to fly drones and quadcopters must obtain approval from both Sefton's Coast and Countryside team as well as Natural England.

Recreational drone usage is unlikely to be approved as much of Sefton's coastline is classed as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

The flying of drones and/or quadcopters without prior consent or approval is strictly prohibited.

For a full list of rules and regulations regarding activities on SSSI click here.




Last Updated on Friday, February 26, 2021

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