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Southport Beach

Nostalgic seaside resort with protected natural landscape

Southport beach is the most northern part of Sefton's beautiful 22-mile coastline and has one of the most unique natural environments in the country.

The resort’s beach is home to many thousands of wading birds from their northern breeding grounds and sees flocks of migrating birds relying on its landscape to feed and rest.

Southport beach is famous for hosting the Southport Air Show, one of the many nostalgic seaside delights on Southport’s seafront with events throughout the year.

It’s also known as the gateway to the Ribble Estuary and a place where the coast and countryside connect in one of the most amazing ways.

Visiting Southport beach

Southport beach is in easy walking distance from Merseyrail station Southport, you can plan your journey and find timetables on the Merseyrail website. There are also many regular bus routes from the town centre and further afield.  

Travelling by car

People are encouraged to plan ahead to avoid traffic delays and are reminded to park responsibly and considerately.

Southport beach car park will remain closed for the time being due to unsuitable condition of the sand, which has been caused by extensive periods of wet weather. Green Sefton rangers conduct regular checks so the beach parking in Southport can be opened as soon as the conditions are safe.

There is a car park on Marine Drive, Southport, that is in close proximity to the seafront. On sunny days this car park proves very popular, so visitors are advised to have alternative parking options in mind.

Please take note that Esplanade Park & Ride in Southport closed permanently on April 1, 2024.

RNLI lifeguards return to Southport beach during the spring and summer months.

Lifeguards are present from 10am - 6pm on weekends at Southport, and during school holidays they are there seven days a week.

Always check the safety signage and flags present before entering the water. And if you have any questions, the friendly lifeguards are happy to chat. More info can be found: Water Safety 

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

We frequently empty our coastal bins. Green Sefton Rangers can empty them up to 10 times a day when it’s busy and it can take around four days to fully clean up after a busy weekend at the Sefton coast. Help us out and take your litter home with you and recycle where possible.

During the busy spring and summer months, more bins and skips are made available at the coast to help keep our beaches clean – please use them or better still bin your rubbish at home.

It’s not OK to have a BBQ or fire at the beach or any part of the Sefton coast be that in the dunes or woods. BBQs and fires are not permitted and can devastate our wildlife. Aside from being dangerous, fires are difficult and costly to put out and pull emergency services away from other important areas of their work.

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

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

Aside from being dangerous, fires are difficult and costly to put out and pull emergency services away from other important areas of their work.

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

Much of the Sefton coast is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, with a series of nature reserves and protected areas running from Crossens in the north to Waterloo in the south.

Dog owners are encouraged to exercise their pets here but you must clean up any fouling, do not leave dog poo bags in the landscape and ensure your dog is kept under control.

There are two beach 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.

Rare species including Natterjack Toads and Great Crested Newts use the many pools in the dunes – dogs MUST be kept out of these areas of water so these protected species can survive.

Dogs should also be kept away from birds on the beach, especially large flocks of roosting waders, terns and gulls, all of which use this coastline as an essential stop off or breeding site along the East Atlantic Flyway. It is a criminal offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to allow your dog to disturb these birds.

Pets should also be controlled so they do not disturb ground-nesting birds in the dunes. Nesting species are also protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Threatened species including Skylarks are vulnerable and can be found throughout the Sefton dune system.

Dogs should also be kept under close control and way from all livestock (sheep, cows etc.) on the coast.

Some basic rules when bringing your dog to the coast: 

  • Keep your dog under close control at all times. If you cannot control your dog, keep it on a lead. 
  • Keep your dog out of pools of water or slacks (the dips where water gathers) on the dunes as there are a variety of rare flora and fauna that shouldn't be disturbed. 
  • Never let your dog roam around the coast unattended. A dog out of sight might be out of control or at risk of harm from a high tide or unexpected danger.
  • 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. 

We have an excellent rail service along the Sefton coast. The Merseyrail northern line runs regularly in both directions between Liverpool and Southport with most coastal locations only a short walk away. Plan your visit on the Merseyrail journey planner.

Sefton is also served by several bus service providers, from Merseytravel, Arriva and Stagecoach, so why not give the bus a try.

There are plenty of different cycle routes and bike hire available at both the Eco Visitor Centre and Southport Train Station. Plus, you can take you bike for free, and without the need to pre-book, on the Merseyrail network.

Travelling by other ways, like walking and cycling, to the coast helps to reduce your carbon footprint too.

Access to beaches varies by location and in some areas it may be difficult for pushchairs and wheelchairs to gain access.

Please note: our beach car parks at Southport and Ainsdale will close for the season at the end of the day on Saturday 30th September 2023. 

Yes, you can park on the beach car parks at Southport and Ainsdale during the spring and summer months (1st April to 30th September). However, they can be reduced in size or closed depending on tidal conditions or at other times for reasons such as severe weather,  organised events or emergency incidents.

The all-day charge for parking on Ainsdale beach is £10 and at Southport it is £8, and we operate a cashless payment system as a preference. 
 
For regular visitors, Sefton Council offers a money-saving £70 beach car parking season ticket (non-refundable) for parking on Ainsdale and Southport beaches. For those who drive a hybrid or electric car, or are residents of Sefton, the price is £37.50.

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

The quickest and easiest way to buy your beach parking contract ticket is to buy online using the e-form.  

You can call 0151 934 2961 or email Green Sefton for further enquiries.

There are public toilet facilities at all Sefton coastal sites and extra temporary loos will be made available at Ainsdale and Crosby beach in spring/summer 2021, in a way that is safe for users and the staff required to keep facilities clean and sterilised.

Please use the facilities provided and do not use the beaches, dunes or the sea to go to the toilet. 

Make sure you wash your hands after using public toilets or use the hand sanitiser provided at the portable loos. Keep regularly using hand sanitiser when visiting the coast, to help stop the spread of COVID-19. 

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

During the summer the 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. 

Southport Lifeboat have their own safety advice about tides, and how to avoid becoming cut off. Be aware of your surroundings and keeping checking behind you that the tide isn't coming in around you. Find out more in this MySefton news item.

The key summer safety advice is:

  • Visit a lifeguarded beach & swim between the red and yellow flags
  • If you get into trouble Float to Live – lie on your back and relax, resisting the urge to thrash about
  • Call 999 or 112 in an emergency and ask for the Coastguard

Find out more about the ways that the RNLI work alongside HM Coastguard to keep our beaches safe for everyone, by reading this RNLI webpage.

Our top tips are:

  • Read the beach information notice boards for news and safety information - not all beaches are suitable for swimming and there are other hazards like soft mud and sand, particularly at Crosby, that is highlighted across signage at every access point to the beach
  • 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 on beaches where it is designated OK for bathing
  • Check the tide times and the weather forecast before your visit and be aware of the beach access points

RNLI Lifeguard Service

During the summer the 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 patrol the beach 365 days a year and are on hand to offer advice and offer assistance to anyone who gets into trouble. But please note Crosby beach is not a bathing beach and does not have a patrolled bathing area. In addition to this, signage is in place along Crosby Promenade and sea wall at all access points warning people of the potential dangers at Crosby. The signs follow the RNLI’s Guide to Beach Safety Signs, Flags and Symbols ensuring that they meet the requirements of the accepted standard for beach safety signage in the UK. 

Crosby beach safety sign

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.

Tides

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. 

Southport Lifeboat have their own safety advice about tides, and how to avoid becoming cut off. Be aware of your surroundings and keeping checking behind you that the tide isn't coming in around you. Find out more in this MySefton news item.

Key summer safety advice from the RNLI:

  • Visit a lifeguarded beach & swim between the red and yellow flags
  • If you get into trouble Float to Live – lie on your back and relax, resisting the urge to thrash about
  • Call 999 or 112 in an emergency and ask for the Coastguard

Find out more about the ways that the RNLI work alongside HM Coastguard to keep our beaches safe for everyone, by reading this RNLI webpage.

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.

Read Sefton's drone policy. 

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, please read through this gov.uk webpage

 

 

You are allowed to metal detect on the beach in certain areas (seashore bylaw 9b) NOT in the dune system this is a SSSi protected site (sandhill bylaw 11).

For information about Formby Beaches please contact the National Trust for information https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/formby

Please read our CODE OF CONDUCT FOR METAL DETECTORS ON THE SEFTON COAST

Finds of interest must be reported to:

Green Sefton's, coast and countryside team on 0151 934 2961 and;

Portable Antiquities Officer – Liverpool Museum on 0151 478 4259

 


Last Updated on Friday, May 10, 2024

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