We met at Hightown Station and signed the register to say we’d read the Risk Assessment. Crossing the Railway Line by the footbridge, we set off along a tarmac path parallel to the railway. Soon we reached the entrance to Altcar Training Camp, one of the UK’s premier facilities for small arms marksmanship training. Signs on the perimeter fence warned us of touching any Military debris with possible fatal consequences. I had a Pythonesque vision of a dog walker scooping up the wrong “debris”! The footpath narrowed here and we had to keep well to one side to allow cyclists to pass. Weeds had reduced the width considerably but later on we came upon some high viz strimmer operators working in the opposite direction to our walk to clear the way. Shortly after crossing the River Alt on a wide footbridge, we turned left and walked with trees to our left and open fields to our right. The threat of rain had lifted and most of us had taken jackets off. We soon came to Cabin Hill Nature Reserve. Cabin Hill used to be the largest dune on this part of the coast. It was used as a landmark by shipping approaching Liverpool until removed by sand extraction. Later, a flood bank was created by the water authority to protect the low lying land behind the dunes. This left wet areas (slacks) on either side which have since become very important for wildlife. Migrating birds, sand lizards and natterjack toads breed here. A tree lined sandy path took us past the Range High School and we soon came to the entrance gates to Firwood Hall, the home of Mike McComb (of the Lenton & McComb car dealership fame). The mansion was featured in a TV programme “Our Coast” hosted by Adrian Chiles a few years ago. Further along St Luke’s Church Road we passed Shorrocks Hill. The former Country Club had been a “Santa’s Enchanted Forest” recently but appeared to getting another rebranding. We turned along Lifeboat Road here heading towards the coast, on the edge of pine woods passing Formby Point Caravan Park. Reaching a clearance in the woods, we stopped for a snack break before turning north past the National Trust car park where volunteers were recruiting members. The sun had made an unsuccessful effort to break through and mist was now beginning to appear on the horizon. We crossed the open land parallel to the shore through shallow sand dunes before turning inland on tree lined paths to Blundell Avenue. This took us to Larkhill Lane with large, expensive, detached houses on either side. At the end of Larkhill Lane we reached Victoria Road with the Red Squirrel reserve to the left, but we took a right turn to arrive at Freshfield Station. We only had a few minutes wait for our train back to Hightown and beyond. Light rain was starting as the train arrived – good timing!
Thanks to Anne for organising and recce-ing. Looking forward to the lifting of restrictions so we can resume our canal walks.